If you have a vagina, you probably know that discharge can leave stains in your underwear now and then. Sometimes, your vaginal discharge may even stain your favorite pair of undies. However, if you have never encountered this situation, it can be shocking and potentially raise concerns about your vaginal health. While vaginal discharge and bleach-like stains are entirely normal, read on to learn why this phenomenon occurs.
The acidity in your vaginal discharge can cause bleach-like stains in your underwear.
Your vagina microbiome, found in your discharge, protects your vagina from harmful bacteria.
Factors affecting your pH balance include sex, menstruation, menopause, and more.
Try cold water rinses and enzymatic stain removers to prevent bleach stains.
Avoid using panty liners and tampons to stop vaginal discharge stains.
Why are there bleach stains in your underwear?
Your underwear can get bleach-like stains due to the acidity in your vaginal discharge. As mentioned before, vaginal discharge is completely normal, but it can also indicate infections when the color, consistency, and smell change. To discover your vaginal discharge acidity and address the bleaching in your undies, it’s crucial to understand your vaginal pH value.
Your vaginal pH value
The acidity in your vaginal discharge is identified through your pH value, which plays a significant role in your vaginal health. A method to understand your value pH value is through a pH scale that measures the acidity of substances, such as vaginal discharge. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic, seven being neutral, and 14 being the most basic. Your vaginal acidity can be a factor as to why your underwear gets bleached.
The average pH value for people with vaginas is 3.8 to 5.0, which is considered moderately acidic. People of childbearing age typically have a pH value ranging from 4.0 to 4.5. For people with vaginas that are in the premanarchal (before the first menstruation period occurs) or postmenopausal stages, their pH value may be higher than 4.5.
Why your vagina is acidic
The most common vaginal microbiome, Lactobacilli species, can produce acidic pH that can attack and kill other vaginal bacteria. Acidic vaginal discharge is significant because it can protect you from sexually transmitted infections and other pathogens, like vaginitis and yeast infections. With this in mind, it’s essential to maintain a healthy pH value for optimal vaginal health.
What throws off your vagina’s pH value?
What can affect your vagina’s pH value? When your vaginal pH value is off, it can change your discharge, which could contribute to bleach stains in your undies.
Factors that can create a pH imbalance in your vaginal discharge include the following:
- Vaginal infections. Bacterial vaginosis (BV), vaginitis, and yeast infections aren’t sexually transmitted diseases but can affect vaginal discharge and acidic levels.
- Sexual activity. Semen and other bodily fluids can lead to sexually transmitted infections like trichomoniasis and chlamydia, and certain lubricants can affect your pH balance.
- Douching. Douching involves using a mixture of solutions to cleanse the inside of the vagina.
- Scented deodorants and other products. These products can contain harmful chemicals can affect your pH balance.
- Tight clothing. When the vagina is restricted in tight clothing, it can’t breathe and can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that affects your vaginal health.
- Aging. Menopause declines your estrogen levels, which can raise your pH value.
- Menstruation. Blood has a pH value of 7.4, which can cause a temporary pH imbalance during your menstruation period.
Symptoms of an imbalanced vaginal pH
When your vaginal pH value becomes too low or high, you may experience different symptoms. As mentioned, the acidity in your vaginal discharge is a protective barrier. With this in mind, when your pH value is out of balance, your vaginal health is susceptible to harmful bacteria and infections.
If your vaginal pH is imbalanced, you may experience the following symptoms:
- A strong, fishy vaginal odor;
- Green, grey, or foamy vaginal discharge;
- Pain or discomfort when having sex;
- Vagina swelling and irritation;
- Burning sensation when urinating.
If your vaginal pH value continues to be imbalanced, please speak with your OB/GYN or another healthcare provider to get professional medical advice.
Ways to maintain a healthy pH balance
Fortunately, there are several ways to sustain a healthy vaginal pH, which can save your underwear from bleaching if it's caused by a pH imbalance.
- Wear loose, breathable underwear. Cotton is the preferred fabric choice for underwear because it helps with moisture control and allows your vagina to breathe.
- Avoid douching. Your vagina is self-cleaning, so anything beyond warm water and mild soap is unnecessary for your vaginal health.
- Use condoms. Condoms are a protective barrier from bodily fluids that can cause vaginal infections and STDs, so use one every time you engage in sexual activity.
- Regularly take pH tests. Stay up-to-date on your vaginal health so that you take action early if your pH value is off balance.
How to clean bleach stains in your underwear
With a better understanding of what causes those pesky bleach stains in your underwear, you can now take preventative measures to stop it from happening. It’s important to remember that having vaginal discharge is normal, so you can’t prevent it. Instead, find strategies, like the ones mentioned below, to keep discharge stains from ruining your underwear.
Here’s how to clean bleach stains from your undies.
- Rinse underwear in cold water. Before letting your vaginal discharge dry on your underwear, wash it with cold water. This can help prevent your discharge from settling into your underwear’s fabric. Before throwing them in the washing machine, you can also soak your undies in cold water and laundry detergent.
- Air-dry your underwear. After washing your undies, please let them air dry rather than put them in the dryer. As you air dry them, avoid placing them in direct sunlight, which can cause bleaching.
- Use enzymatic stain removers. Enzymatic stain removers contain substances that break down stains. Simply spray the solution onto your underwear and place it in the washer.
Before using any chemicals, always check your underwear’s fabric material to ensure that you’re not damaging them with the cleaning solutions.
Do not try to prevent vaginal discharge
Some people may believe wearing panty liners or tampons can prevent vaginal discharge and staining in the underwear. Wearing feminine hygiene products is not recommended to stop the vaginal discharge and can potentially cause health problems like toxic shock syndrome (TSS).
It’s normal to have vaginal discharge that stains or bleaches your undies. The acidity or pH value of your vaginal discharge can cause bleaching in your underwear, which is quite common among people with vaginas. Knowing your pH value can be beneficial when it becomes unbalanced, which can be caused by factors like sex, menstruation, menopause, and more. Try cold water rinses or stain removers to prevent bleaching in your underwear.
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