Why are there bleached patches in my underwear? A gynaecologist explains.

Seriously, though. WHAT GIVES?

Anyone else chuck their black undies in the wash only for them to come back looking like they've been dipped in a bucket of bleach? Like, huh? 

And then no matter how many times you wash them, that discoloured part on the crotch just ~remains~?

What is this, some kind of cruel joke? Well, apparently it's nothing to do with how much your wear them or your washing skills.... it's your sneaky vagina.

Yep. Your vagina can bleach your underwear

Watch: Here's what your vagina should smell like - because of course you want to know. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

Umm... are you guys also feeling completely terrified by your vagina's ability to BLEACH things? Like, how does she do that?

Image: Giphy 


Because we all seem to have missed this in year eight health class, we thought we'd conduct a little lesson on WTF is going on in our undies. 

Now, please pop on a fresh pair of knickers and a fancy learning hat, because we asked gynaecologist Dr Nicole Stamatopoulos everything we need to know about bleached underwear.

Where do those bleached patches in my underwear come from?

Good news: Discolouration in your underwear doesn’t actually mean that anything particularly harmful is going on with your vag. Hooray!

It's super common, and it actually comes down to one thing: Discharge.

So, yeah - we're not saying that your vagina literally spits acid (OMG, IMAGINE THO).

Basically, what’s happening is that your vagina is excreting discharge that happens to be a little more on the acidic end of the pH scale - which, in case you'd like to know, ranges from 1 (acidic) to 14 (alkaline).

"The white patches you see on your underwear is usually discharge," said Dr Stamatopoulos. "This is usually mucus and can look white or clear. The mucus is usually a normal function of the vagina and is slightly acidic if the bacterial balance in the vagina is normal."


Listen: While we're on the topic of vaginas and such, get your ear holes into this episode of Mamamia Out Loud where the team discuss a medical procedure that helps you orgasm. Post continues below.

Just FYI, the vaginal pH is normally slightly acidic - so it's nothing weird or unusual. An 'average' vaginal pH level will sit around the 4.5 mark. So, yeah - you WANT to be more acidic.

Dr Stamatopoulos also said that if your discharge is slightly acidic, it could potentially change the colour of the fabric on your underwear.

While you might not notice it in your white undies (it'll just look like yellowish/off-white marks), it can look like bleached patches in black underwear.

How can I stop my vagina discharge from bleaching my undies?

If it’s an issue for you and your favourite undies, try popping on a liner when you're wearing darker underwear. 

"Many women require using a liner every day to avoid the discharge touching their underwear. This may be to avoid bleaching of the underwear or for comfort."

If you're a lady on a mission and want to try to keep your discharge in check, just be careful with using too many random body washes and stuff - 'cause it can have the opposite effect and also throw your pH out of whack.

"Sometimes washing the vaginal area too often will dry out the skin and vagina and increase the amount of discharge," Dr Stamatopoulos reveals. "It's best to wash the area up to twice a day, with warm water or soap free wash."


If all else fails you could, y'know, just really get on board the whole tie-dye thing. Suits you.

What not to do: Use a tampon to stop the discharge ruining your undies. Why? We know it might be tempting, but using a tampon for anything else other than your period, creates a higher risk of a bacterial infection. You also might completely forget that you've even got one in - which is just not a good time.

How do you know if your vaginal discharge and odour is normal?

Having discharge dosen't mean you have an STI. But! If the stuff you're seeing in your undies has a weird colour or odour to it, it could be a red flag.

"This discharge may be normal, but there may be some cause for concern if there is an odour to it, or a change in colour or it's associated with other symptoms such as an itch or redness," said Dr Stamatopoulos.

"It may be an indication of a candida infection, STI or other infections related to bacterial imbalance."

So, if you notice any gunky, gross-smelling, yellow or green discharge kicking around in your underwear - get it seen to.

"If you are ever concerned about discharge, it is best to see your GP who may refer you to a gynaecologist. Swabs are usually taken from the vagina and to check for STIs. It is also a chance to check the integrity of the skin and vagina with an examination."

Just remember, your health is waaay more important than feeling awkward for two minutes. Plus, your doctor doesn't give a hoot about seeing your vagina. They've seen a thousand before yours.

Image: Giphy 


Wa-wa-wait! Before you get back to filing your nails and doing your 10-step Korean skincare routine, let's just make this clear: ALL vaginas leak and smell weird sometimes - it's just that for some weird reason no one ever talks about it! 

So, don't ever let anyone make you feel embarrassed and abnormal about vagina tings - especially your fancy discoloured undies. 

And if they do - you can just hit 'em with these straight facts.

Feature image: Getty

Do you have any vagina-related questions you want busted by an expert? Share with us in the comment section below.