This bleached patch in your underwear is completely normal
And it means your vagina is healthy - vaginal discharge keeps infections away.
TikTok is a quirky place. Just a few taps can let you see anything from cute animals and cool tricks, to… someone’s underwear.
21-year-old Alyssa chose to show her underwear on TikTok.
At the time of writing this, her video has received over one million likes and over 26,000 comments.
She wondered two things: Why did she get a bleached stain on her underwear? Were there other girls who experienced the same thing?
Many commented on the video. Alyssa was certainly not alone.
Sciencenorway.no has spoken with researcher Risa Lonnee-Hoffmann who works at NTNU.
What is it that causes underwear to bleach just like that?
“There is a simple explanation,” Lonnee-Hoffmann says.
“It's called vaginal discharge, and it cleanses our vagina. It keeps infections away and can prevent wounds from forming. The discharge cannot stay in the body, and so it ends up in the underwear.”
Already as children, we begin to develop some discharge. The amount increases substantially before the first period, and then it is produced to varying degrees for the rest of our lives.
The pH value in a healthy vagina is below 5. The environment in the vagina is therefore acidic.
“When the acidic discharge gets on the underwear fabric, colour can fade. It is completely normal and means that your vagina is healthy,” she says.
Facts about discharge
- Girls begin to produce more discharge for some time before their first period
- The vagina will continue to produce discharge throughout the lifespan
- Discharge can be transparent, white, brown during menstruation, or yellow when it dries
- Discharge has a sour smell
- If your pubic area itches or stings, you should consult a doctor or the school nurse
Source: Risa Lonnee-Hoffmann
Good to know
Is this something we need to talk about more then, the normality of vaginal discharge?
“Yes, it's great that we're talking about it", says Lonnee-Hoffmann.
"I have the impression that there are many young girls who are unsure of what is normal. They can be reluctant to ask their mothers or healthcare professionals,” she says.
The comment section on the TikTok video makes one thing clear. Many commenters did not know that the bleached stain is completely normal and natural.
“I thought it was just me, I was so scared,” one commenter wrote.
“U immediately go to the comments to see how many girls deal with the same thing u do & now feel so much better,” another commented.
We have to talk about it
In this case, girls got their information about the topic through TikTok. Is that ok?
“It is great that it is shown to be normal,” Lonnee-Hoffmann says.
However, she believes it should be covered in sex education in school.
"And then articles like this one are a great contribution", she adds.
Translated by Alette Gjellesvik.
Read the Norwegian version of this article on ung.forskning.no