When I got my period for the first time, I was wearing my favorite 101 Dalmatians panties. Although I hit puberty in the era before Internet, I was well aware of the changes my body was going through and what that brownish stain meant. The mysterious gate to the world of femininity had opened in front of me and I was so ready to go in. I couldn’t wait to feel what I had seen in a lot of movies in my own body. I wanted to finally belong to the WOMEN*’s club. I was always a bit obsessed with Hollywood femininity, those female creatures with soft curves, wavy long hair, strawberry mouths and fertile wombs.
So yes, I kind of liked menstruating for the first time. Apart from the nasty cramps, the awkward walking and the dirty panties, I felt special and wiser. I was (almost) one of them. WOMEN*.
Nevertheless, puberty gave me another not so famous present that I hadn’t expected: Vaginal discharges.
I had no idea that my vagina was going to discharge every day for the rest of my fertile life. I hadn’t seen that in any of my favorite teenage movies, or read about it in my biology books. There was nothing solemn or dignifying about it. It was gross and unexpected. It was whitish and sometimes transparent, with a whole range of different consistences.
I thought I was ill, I was convinced I had a disgusting (maybe terminal) disease. Of course I never talked about my anguish to anyone and, since I wasn’t in pain and didn’t die, I got used to the white stains on my panties. I carried the “secret” with me like an old but embarrassing anecdote you’d rather forget. I also always tried to hide my dirty panties from my first lovers, they felt too unsexy and unclean.
With time, experience and great partners I finally learned to appreciate the most obvious proof of my functioning sexual organs. I now feel comfortable with my periods and everything in-between, and I don’t think I should have a Barbie’s pubis to be sexy. Actually now I think that that exactly is what is gross.
Having some amount of vaginal discharge is normal, especially if you are of childbearing age. Glands in the cervix produce a clear mucus. These secretions may turn white or yellow when exposed to the air, and the amount of mucus produced by the cervical glands varies throughout the menstrual cycle. It’s so normal. It’s so natural.
But some women still think there is some grossness in the way their bodies work. Some of them are still struggling with their “dirty secret”, even after being married for years and having children. Thanks to the Beautiful Cervix Project, a lot of people are now aware that their vaginas are not the only ones producing non-menstrual secretions. This amazing online platform aims “to contradict shame and misinformation around women’s reproductive health and choices” and “to affect positive change from the personal to global levels” with forums, photos and useful information from a very empowering perspective.
I am not trying to convince you of the exquisiteness of discharge, and I guess it takes sensitivity and imagination to find poetry in cervical mucus, but I invite you to stop trying to ignore it and to start observing it. Learn from it. For example, you can sometimes tell if you are ovulating by the look of your discharge. Knowledge is power and it is on your panties.
By Lo Pecado