Clear watery discharge is extremely common and a good indicator that there is a good balance of healthy bacteria and yeast in your vagina’s bacterial flora. Most of the time, clear watery discharge helps flush out dead cells and bacteria, keeping your vagina clean, healthy and preventing potential infections.
While it’s normal to experience some amount of watery discharge throughout your menstrual cycle, sometimes the mucus may be accompanied by other symptoms that typically indicate that something more serious is going on down below. So what does clear watery discharge mean – and most importantly, is it a reason of concern? Find out the answer below.
When Does Clear Watery Discharge Occur?
Except for your menstrual cycle, there are a number of other factors that can impact the hue, consistency and amount of discharge your vagina produces. It’s important to take note of when it occurs in order to identify potential patterns and provide a more accurate description of your symptoms to your doctor. Outlined below are the most common times when you may experience clear watery discharge:
1. Clear Watery Discharge During Ovulation
When it comes to clear watery discharge, ovulation is the most common time in your menstrual cycle when it occurs. When you are ovulating, your body’s levels of estrogen increase significantly, which result in a lot of watery vaginal discharge. The amount reaches its peak the day when the ovum (egg) is released or the day before. During ovulation, your vagina will produce up to 30 times more mucus, which should be clear, watery, and bear no smell.
The best way to say whether you are ovulating or not is calculating when your next period is due to start, and then counting 12 to 14 days back. Try recalling when you have first noticed the watery discharge and see whether or not it corresponds to the date when you are supposed to ovulate.
2. Clear Watery Discharge After Sex
If you are sexually active, then you have certainly noticed a huge increase in discharge during and after sex. This discharge is usually clear and slippery, and occurs as a result of sexual arousal. But instead of coming from inside the vagina, like regular discharge, it is produced by specific glands located above and below the vaginal opening. The glands are called the Bartholin’s and Skene’s glands.
This type of discharge is commonly referred to as lubricating discharge or lube, and its role is facilitating penetration during intercourse to make the sexual act less painful and more enjoyable for you. The glands will continue to produce lube several hours after the intercourse is concluded, making your vulva feel tacky and slippery and possibly wetting your clothing.
3. Clear Watery Discharge During Pregnancy
Very few women are aware of the hormonal changes that occur in their bodies in early pregnancy. Clear watery discharge is a common sign of pregnancy that many of them fail to notice. Just like when you’re ovulating, your levels of estrogen will dramatically increase during early pregnancy, thus leading to the vagina and cervix producing a much larger amount of discharge. Sometimes, the discharge may be accompanied by blood streaks, an occurrence that’s known as implantation bleeding or spotting.
Most women experience massive amounts of mucus while pregnant, and as long as there are no other symptoms such as itching, swelling or redness of the vulva, pain during urination or bleeding, you should be fine. The amount will increase as delivery date approaches, culminating the day when the cervical mucus plug is released, coming out either all at a time as a ball of mucus or gradually as increased vaginal discharge.
4. Clear Watery Discharge During Period
While before and after period the amount of discharge is relatively small, it increases significantly during period due to the hormonal changes taking place in your body. During the first two or three days while on your period, the discharge may not be noticeable due to the naturally higher flow of blood. Once the amount starts to decrease, you will notice your period becoming pinkish due to the combination of blood and increased amount of vaginal discharge.
Signs to Look Out For
If you experience a sudden increase in the amount of your vaginal discharge, or if some characteristics such as color, consistency or odor have changed out of nowhere, you should call your doctor and have the issue investigated. Smelly discharge that appears to be cottage cheese-like, greenish, grey or yellow may indicate the presence of an infection, and treating it as soon as possible is crucial to preventing more serious consequences such as pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy or even infertility.
We’ve listed below the main types of discharge you should expect to see, along with their symptoms and potential causes.
1. White Discharge
- Characteristics: milky to cloudy white in color; strong fishy odor; thick, cottage cheese-like consistency.
- Other symptoms: itching, swelling or redness of the vagina, burning during urination, lower abdominal pain.
- Possible causes: yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis.
2. Yellow Discharge
- Characteristics: pale to dark yellow in color; fishy odor; thick, creamy texture that feels like lotion when rubbed between fingers.
- Other symptoms: itching, swelling or redness of the vagina, pain during urination, pain during intercourse, lower abdominal (pelvic) pain.
- Possible causes: bacterial vaginosis or gonorrhea.
3. Green Discharge
- Characteristics: yellowish to neon green in color; fishy, sour smell; thick, pasty consistency.
- Other symptoms: urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, itching, swelling or redness of the vagina, bleeding (spotting) between periods.
- Possible causes: trichomoniasis or Chlamydia.
4. Gray Discharge
- Characteristics: cloudy white to pale grey in color; stronger-than-usual odor; creamy, cheesy consistency.
- Other symptoms: redness or swelling of the vagina or vulva, itching and burning.
- Possible causes: bacterial vaginosis.
Seek Medical Assistance
If you experience any of the above-mentioned types of discharge, please make sure to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible and have a few vaginal swabs taken for analysis. Treating the underlying issue very quickly will help you prevent potential complications, especially if you’re pregnant. Your doctor will accurately identify the vaginitis and prescribe appropriate medication to eradicate the infection and get your discharge to normal. He may also recommend that you change your hygiene habits and make some lifestyle changes to prevent the infection from returning.