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Watery Vaginal Discharge: What Does It Mean?

Watery vaginal discharge is usually a clear or translucent fluid. Glands inside your vagina and cervix create vaginal discharge to carry away dead cells and bacteria. Healthy, normal discharge provides lubrication and protects your vagina and urinary tract.

Main causes of watery discharge 

Watery vaginal discharge often occurs during:

  • Ovulation
  • Exercise
  • Sexual arousal

When you’re sexually aroused, blood rushes to the vagina and triggers the release of lubricating fluids. You may also notice an increase in discharge after sex.

Is clear watery discharge a sign of pregnancy? 

Clear watery discharge does increase during pregnancy, but it’s not necessarily an indication that you are pregnant. If you think you might be pregnant, talk to your health care provider, or take a pregnancy test to be sure.

Smelly or brownish watery discharge: should you seek medical help?

Here are some other forms of discharge and their likely causes:

  • Brown discharge — This is normal toward the end of your period, as your vagina cleans out older blood.
  • Spotting/brown discharge — This can happen around ovulation or early on in pregnancy. If you’re pregnant, you may experience some spotting around the time your period would have come.
  • Green/yellow discharge — This may be an indication of infection, especially if it’s thick and clumpy and accompanied by a bad odor, itching, pelvic pain, or painful urination.
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If your discharge is accompanied by itching, burning, pain, any form of discomfort, or a rash, make sure to consult your health care provider to rule out any of the following infections:

  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Candida
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Genital herpes

Watery vaginal discharge: timing matters 

Vaginal discharge can change in consistency, color, amount, and odor. These changes depend on your menstrual cycle, flow, sexual activity, birth control and other medications, and also any pre-existing health conditions. Puberty, pregnancy, and menopause also play a key role. 

Watery discharge after ovulation

Ovulation usually happens 10–16 days before your period starts. You may notice more discharge when you’re ovulating. This discharge tends to be clear and stretchy, like an egg white. Right before your period arrives, the discharge may become white and cloudy. 

Watery discharge after your period 

After your period, vaginal discharge tends to look a bit brownish. As mentioned before, this is because any remaining old blood in the vagina is being expelled. Once this leaves the body, you may experience a couple of days without any discharge.

Watery discharge during pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body experiences a lot of hormonal changes. As a result, you may notice a change in your discharge as early as two weeks after conception. Later in pregnancy, as the baby’s head presses against your cervix, you might notice more discharge and possibly streaks of mucus with a little blood, called “show.” This is an early sign of labor, and it’s important to notify your health care provider as soon as you notice it. 

Normal discharge, or leukorrhea, is thin and clear, has the consistency of an egg white, a mild smell, and should not soak through a panty liner.

Pale-yellow or clear fluid leaking from the vagina can be a sign of preterm rupture of membranes (PROM). When your water breaks, it may feel like a slow trickle of fluid from your vagina or a sudden gush of fluid. If you think you’re experiencing PROM, make sure to get medical assistance as soon as possible.

Clear watery discharge and cramps 

Talk to your health care provider if you experience any of these unusual types of discharge, particularly if accompanied by cramps and especially during pregnancy:

  • Yellow, grey, or green in color
  • Strong, bad smell
  • Redness, soreness, itching, or swelling in the vaginal area
  • Lots of pale yellow or clear discharge

Cramps and abnormal discharge could be signs of infection or a medical condition, which may lead to premature labor or other complications if you’re pregnant. Make sure to contact your health care provider if you notice any of these.

Watery vaginal discharge is normal in most cases. Vaginal discharge changes naturally through different life stages: puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Be aware of any unusual odors, colors, or textures in your discharge, as they can be an indication of a medical condition.

Here are a few useful tips to keep your vagina — and your discharge — healthy:

  • Wear breathable clothing and underwear.
  • Change your underwear daily. 
  • Wipe your vagina from front to back to avoid contamination.
  • Consider using panty liners, pads, or period underwear to control discharge.

Always be sure to consult your health care provider if you notice anything out of the ordinary, especially if you’re pregnant.

"Vaginal Discharge When To See A Doctor". Mayo Clinic, 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/vaginal-discharge/basics/when-to-see-doctor/sym-20050825.

Welt, Corrine K. “Evaluation of the Menstrual Cycle and Timing of Ovulation.” UpToDate, www.uptodate.com/contents/evaluation-of-the-menstrual-cycle-and-timing-of-ovulation.

"Vaginal Discharge". HHS.Gov, 2020, https://www.hhs.gov/opa/reproductive-health/fact-sheets/vaginal-discharge/index.html.

"Preterm Premature Rupture Of Membranes (PPROM) - Health Encyclopedia - University Of Rochester Medical Center". Urmc.Rochester.Edu, 2020, https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=90&ContentID=P02496.

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