I am sexually active, and when I take a shower and I go to clean my vaginal area, there's always a whole bunch of white gunk in there and on the outside. What is it? And how do I get it to stop?

Even though it’s natural to get some cheesy white junk between your labia and vagina it can be a little bit gross. This white stuff is like a natural cream that keeps things healthy and moist down there and if you are too aggressive rubbing it off you can get really red and irritated. Not fun. Your body makes more of this “white gunk” when the skin is irritated either from tight underwear, less than perfect wiping after peeing or pooping, or sometimes from fragrances in soaps, so change things up a bit in these areas and see if it diminishes. You really need to see your health care provider if the gunk smells bad, is coming out of your vagina (as opposed to being between your labia), if you are itchy down there, or if you are having any pain. Of course, since you are sexually active, you should be seeing your healthcare provider regularly for STD screening so, if it’s been a while, make an appointment.
If you’re talking about every day, it’s most likely your body’s natural discharge (see healthcare expert Dr. Molly’s answer for more info on that). If you’re talking about after sex, well, sex can be messy! It could be a combination of the two of you after sex. When the male ejaculates, it can look sometimes like as you put it--white gunk. If it disappears after your shower that is probably what it is. Now the mom question, are you having protected sex? If he is using a condom there should not be a lot to wash off. Please be careful, and I really want to encourage you to set up an appointment with your healthcare provider.
First of all, we all get that gunk, sexually active or not. From my understanding, it’s the vagina trying to rid itself of junk (not to be confused with gunk!). Even though it seems a little funky (and gunky, and junky … okay, okay, I’ll stop!), it’s actually a good thing. Unless it’s particularly smelly or otherwise abnormal for you, there’s no reason to try to stop it (if it is one of those things, you should talk to your healthcare provider). If you’re self-conscious about it, or it’s messing up your underwear – I’ve been there! – you could try wearing a really thin panty-liner. Otherwise, make peace with the white gunk. It’s your friend, not your foe!
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