Most women fail to understand the important role that vaginal discharge plays in the female reproductive system. When you hit puberty, you start experiencing some amount of vaginal discharge, which shows that your reproductive system is “viable.” The role of the discharge is keeping your vagina clean and healthy, preventing bacteria from traveling to your uterus and causing infections. During your menstrual cycle, the discharge can be anywhere from clear and stretchy to white and clumpy.
What does clear discharge mean, and how do you know if everything is alright down there? Keep reading to find out.
What Is Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is a term used for describing the secretions that come out of the vagina throughout your menstrual cycle. Vaginal discharge is a fluid that’s produced by glands inside the vagina and cervix, and serves an important housekeeping function of the vagina, flushing out dead skin cells and bacteria to keep it clean and healthy. As a result, bacteria cannot fester, and hence there is no risk of infection. At the same time, this discharge maintains the vagina’s acidic pH, which also contributes to preventing infections.
On average, a woman’s vagina produces about one teaspoon of discharge a day, although the amount usually varies from woman to woman. While some experience little discharge, others report consistently changing their underpants to avoid wetting the clothes.
The color and consistency of vaginal discharge depends strictly on the time in your menstrual cycle: white and clumpy after period, egg white before ovulation, clear during ovulation, and creamy before period.
So What Does Clear Mucus Discharge Mean?
Most of the time, clear vaginal mucus discharge is a clear sign that you are ovulating. The first few days after your period stops are the least fertile, and your discharge tends to be extremely white and clumpy during this period, preventing sperm cells from traveling to your uterus and uniting with your ovum (egg). These are called “dry days.” Between your dry days and ovulation, your discharge becomes creamier and less dense. This type of discharge helps filter out weak sperm cells, allowing only the most viable ones to travel to the uterus and potentially unite with your egg.
When ovulation is imminent, the discharge becomes clear and watery, with a consistency that’s extremely similar to uncooked (raw) egg white. This type of discharge is very fertile, as sperm cells can easily travel to the uterus. Consistency turns very watery and slippery the day the egg is released or the day before – this is the most fertile type of discharge, meaning you can easily get pregnant if you engage in unprotected sex when you have it.
Keep in mind that most women experience up to 30 times more clear white discharge during ovulation as compared to the rest of their menstrual cycle. If you notice a heavier flow of discharge, you can check and see whether you are ovulating or not. To do this, think of when your last period started and when the next one is supposed to start, then calculate 12 to 14 days back. If you are ovulating, then the discharge (as well as the heavy flow) is perfectly normal and should not be a reason of concern. Remember that, no matter how much discharge you have, it should never bear any odor. If it does, then you may have an infection, so it’s recommended that you see your gyn as soon as possible.
Clear Discharge During Pregnancy: Is It Normal?
The vast majority of pregnant women report a sudden increase in the amount of vaginal discharge throughout pregnancy. This discharge is usually white or clear, and its consistency is very watery, similar to your ovulation days. It’s typically referred to as “leucorrhea” or “white flow,” and it occurs as a result of estrogen levels increasing at a great deal during pregnancy.
The amount of leucorrhea tends to be very heavy, and it sometimes feels as if you have just passed urine. Many pregnant women need to frequently change their underpants due to the discharge soaking through them. A slightly musky odor can be sensed as a result of the increased amount of discharge that you experience, but it shouldn’t be very unpleasant.
How Can I Address Clear Vaginal Discharge?
If you are currently ovulating or pregnant, there is nothing you can do to control the discharge. Keep in mind that this discharge helps keep your vagina clean and healthy, so don’t attempt to get rid of it. Here are some hygiene tips to keep your eye on to stay clean and fresh even when you’ve got lots of discharge:
1. Wear cotton underpants. Cotton is the most breathable fabric, and it helps ventilate your skin, thus ensuring that bacteria cannot travel to your uterus. Make sure to wear loose underpants instead of very tight ones – if pregnant, you should wear knickers, which tend to be a lot more comfortable than thongs.
2. Avoid feminine hygiene products such as scented soaps, deodorants and perfumes. They contain harsh chemicals that irritate your vulva and change the vagina’s environment, which can result in bacterial vaginosis (BV). It’s best to use specifically water when cleaning down there, avoiding any type of soap. If you still want to use soap, choose a mild, unscented product to avoid irritations, swelling and abnormal discharge.
3. Wipe from front to back to avoid introducing fecal matter inside of the vagina. This can lead to vaginal infections, with symptoms such as thick white discharge with bad odor, itching, swelling, redness and pain during urination. Use unscented toilet paper and baby wet wipes to keep yourself clean, and always clean your hands before and after using the toilet.
4. Be mindful of your diet. It’s important to eat specifically healthy foods if you want to avoid infections and abnormal discharge. Eat more yoghurt as it contains living cultures that regulate the growth of Candida bodies and prevent yeast infection. Avoid sugary foods as they can alter your vagina’s pH and upset the balance between good and bad bacteria. Drink at least eight glasses of water every day to flush out bad bacteria and toxins, and eat more fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, cherries and watermelon.