#PantyChallenge: Why women are sharing pictures of their underwear online

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Woman's underwear, panty challenge
If you're an avid Twitter user, you may have noticed a new hashtag trending in your timeline.

The #pantychallenge is being discussed by people all over the world, after women began posting pictures of their underwear to their social media accounts. The reason? To prove that their pants were 'clean' - i.e., with no vaginal discharge on the fabric.

Unsurprisingly, backlash against the hashtag began almost instantly, with many referring to it as 'awful' and 'shaming'.

'#pantychallenge is awful and once again making girls feel bad about being healthy,' one user wrote, whilst another added 'Why do these girls think pretending online that they don't get discharge makes them better than other girls? #pantychallenge'

As a number of the commenters pointed out, having vaginal discharge is perfectly normal and healthy.

What is discharge?

Discharge is essentially fluid that is made by the glands inside the vagina and cervix. It carries away dead cells and bacteria, keeping the vagina clean and helping to prevent infection, so it's certainly not anything any woman should be ashamed of, or trying to prove that they 'don't have'.

The amount of vaginal discharge you have can vary throughout your menstrual cycle, and may also change colour around the time of your period, or during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

The only instances in which you should be concerned about vaginal discharge is if you experience a noticeable change in the colour or consistency, or if it has a particularly strong smell. There are a number of conditions that could cause these changes, including thrush, bacterial vaginosis or sexually transmitted diseases, so you should visit your doctor if you find that the smell or appearance of your discharge has dramatically changed.

The NHS confirmes that there is no need to clean or 'douche' the vagina, as it is self-cleansing.

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'Vaginal soreness and abnormal vaginal discharge can also be caused by overusing perfumed soaps, bubble baths and shower gels. Never clean your vagina with anything strongly perfumed. Use a mild soap and warm water to gently wash around your genitals,' they advise.

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