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Common Occurrences of Stringy Discharge

Written by Elizabeth Buescher, Gynecologist

Knowing the difference between normal vaginal discharge and abnormal vaginal discharge is oftentimes simple, specifically because there a couple of factors that usually indicate when there may be something wrong with your cervical mucus. Stringy vaginal discharge is normal most of the time, and usually occurs during the middle of your menstrual cycle as a result of estrogen levels increasing during this time.

It’s commonly characterized by clear or whitish color, and consistency that’s similar to uncooked egg whites. Clear stringy discharge also has the property of spinnbarkeit, or fibrosity, which refers to its ability to stretch an inch or two.

When should you expect to have white stringy discharge, and when is it normal?

Stringy Discharge During Ovulation

The ovulation is the most common time in your menstrual cycle when stringy discharge occurs. That’s because estrogen levels increase substantially when you are ovulating, which results in up to 30 times more clear stringy discharge. Although not thick, this type of cervical mucus is significantly denser than the watery discharge you experience when ovulation is imminent. Most women refer stringy discharge to as egg white cervical mucus due to its close resemblance to uncooked egg whites.

Typically, the discharge can stretch without breaking in the middle. It can make your vulva feel wet and tacky, although there is no strong or unpleasant odor coming from the vagina. You can expect to have stringy vaginal discharge 12 to 14 days before period. Once progesterone levels start increasing, the discharge becomes sticky and clumpy.
Stringy discharge is considered the most fertile type of discharge since it allows sperm cells to travel through your uterus and possibly unite with the egg cell.

White Stringy Discharge During Pregnancy

Another common occurrence of stringy white discharge is during pregnancy. In early pregnancy, your body steps up the levels of estrogen. Under the influence of estrogen, cervical mucus becomes abundant, clear and stretchy, looking very similar to raw egg whites. But unlike ovulation, pregnancy can cause your vagina to expel up 40 times more discharge during first trimester, and the amount continues to increase until birth.

Most notably, early pregnancy is the time when the cervical mucus plug seals your cervix to prevent any pathogens from traveling to the uterus, thus keeping infections at bay. When it comes out, the cervical mucus plug is bloody, thick and stretchy and has a strong musky odor. However, your

When it comes out, the cervical mucus plug is bloody, thick and stretchy and has a strong musky odor. However, your normal vaginal discharge continues even after the cervical mucus plug has come out.

Brown Stringy Discharge

Brown discharge usually indicates the presence of a small amount of blood, which is why its occurrence is typically abnormal and concerning. However, there are certain times when stringy brown discharge is normal and shouldn’t be a reason of alarm.

1. After Period

Excess endometrial tissue that hasn’t exited your body during period will be flushed out by your vagina in the form of brownish discharge. The mucus is typically stringy, but much thicker than your normal mid-cycle discharge. Your vagina keeps expelling brownish mucus for one or two days after your period has stopped. During this time, the color of the discharge will gradually lighten until it becomes clumpy and sticky.

2. During Implantation

Implantation bleeding is light bleeding that occurs when the fertilized egg attaches to the inner wall of the uterus (endometrium). The embedment causes the blood-filled endometrium to bleed, an occurrence that can last for just a few minutes or even one or two days depending on each particular case. The presence of blood can turn your discharge brownish for a little while – but if this is your case, it isn’t a reason of concern.

Note that implantation bleeding occurs 6 to 12 days after conception, which is why you may experience it instead of period. The amount of blood and actual length of the bleeding are the factors that differentiate implantation bleeding from your regular period.

3. Breakthrough, Postcoital and Intermenstrual Bleeding

Breakthrough bleeding is a normal side effect that occurs when taking combined oral contraceptives. It happens due to your estrogen levels decreasing substantially due to the contraceptives. However, breakthrough bleeding is typically inoffensive and doesn’t pose any risk to your health.

Postcoital bleeding is non-menstrual bleeding that occurs immediately after sexual intercourse. Common causes of postcoital bleeding include hormonal changes, polyps or fibroids, fragile tissue on the face of the cervix, and infections. However, postcoital bleeding may also be a sign of a more serious underlying condition such as cervical or uterine cancer.

Intermenstrual bleeding is non-menstrual bleeding that occurs at any time other than your period. While it isn’t necessarily a cause of concern, intermenstrual bleeding may be due to growths in the uterus or cervix, miscarriage (in case of pregnant women), hormone imbalance, vaginal dryness, and cancer.

If you experience brown or red discharge that doesn’t occur due to causes #1 and #2 described above, make sure to see your doctor as soon as possible for an examination. Due to the potential risk carried by non-menstrual bleeding, a quick identification of the underlying cause can help you receive appropriate treatment fast.

Yellow Stringy Discharge, a Sign of Infection?

If you are currently experiencing yellowish stringy discharge, you should pay attention to a couple of aspects to see whether or not there is anything wrong with you. First of all, try to notice any bad odor that may be coming from your vagina, which is usually the most common sign of vaginitis. Second, take note of other physical symptoms that may be present, such as vaginal or vulva itching, swelling, redness, burning during urination, painful intercourse, lower abdominal pain and a general sense of discomfort. If any of these are present, the culprit is likely a vaginal infection.

If your discharge has a bad odor but isn’t accompanied by other physical symptoms, you could still have an infection, most probably bacterial vaginosis. As such, you should call your doctor and tell her about your symptoms in order to accurately identify a potential infection. In addition to taking a few vaginal swabs to be put under the microscope, your doctor will also do a pH test of your vagina to see whether the acidity is low (a common sign of BV).

Read also:
White Vaginal Discharge: When Is It Normal and When Not?
Changes in Cervical Mucus after Ovulation
What is Cervical Mucus before Period Like?