Is it Normal?
Clear, vaginal discharge is normal and is produced to keep the vagina clean and moist. The consistency, colour, and amount produced can change over the course of your menstrual cycle. Abnormal discharge can be a sign of infection or another gynaecological problem and should be checked by a doctor or nurse.
- 1. Is it Normal?
- 2. What is Clear Discharge?
- 3. What Infections Can Cause Clear Discharge?
- 4. Can Periods Cause Clear Discharge?
- 5. Clear Discharge and Pregnancy
- 6. Clear Discharge and Sex
- 7. Clear Discharge and Menopause
- 8. How to Prevent Clear Discharge
- 9. Sources
- 10. Patient Reviews
- 11. Further Reading on Vaginal Discharge
What is Clear Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is normal and most women experience it. It is mucus or fluid that helps to protect the vagina from infection and keep it clean and moist.
Vaginal discharge is not usually anything to worry about if it is:
- clear or white
- thick and sticky
- wet or slippery
- does not have a strong or unpleasant smell
What does clear discharge look like?
Clear discharge usually looks like a see-through liquid, similar to water or it may be white in colour.
If the colour, smell, or texture of your discharge changes, you should see a doctor.
Brown or bloody discharge may be normal at the start or end of your period. If you experience bloody discharge between periods, it’s called spotting and you should seek medical advice to find out why this is happening..
If you are concerned about brown discharge or this is not normal for you, speak to your doctor or a nurse for further advice.
Yellow or green discharge
If you have a yellow or green discharge, this may be a sign of infection and you need to seek medical attention.
Is clear discharge normal?
Yes, clear discharge is usually normal and helps to keep your vagina clean and protected against infection.
If you find you have a lot more clear discharge than usual or you have lots of clear discharge when you are pregnant it’s a good idea to contact a doctor to check for any underlying causes.
Common causes of clear discharge
- normal bodily function to clean the vagina
- increased sexual arousal
- hormonal contraceptive pill
- emotional stress
What Infections Can Cause Clear Discharge?
Clear discharge is often normal, but if your vaginal discharge changes or becomes abnormal then it may be a sign of infection. If this happens to you, then you should speak to a doctor, nurse or your local sexual health clinic for advice.
Some causes of abnormal discharge include:
- Bacterial vaginosis (BV) - can cause a strong, foul-smelling fishy discharge that may be thin, grey, or off white in appearance.
- Thrush - white, cottage cheese-like discharge alongside a burning or itchy vulva
- Trichomoniasis - an STI that causes a foul smelling, yellow or green discharge that may also have a frothy texture. Other common symptoms include pain, inflammation, and itching.
- Gonorrhoea - an STI that can cause abnormal vaginal discharge. It’s usually green, yellow, or cloudy in colour. Other symptoms include pain during sex, burning when peeing, irregular bleeding, pelvic pain.
- Chlamydia - also an STI which can cause similar symptoms to gonorrhoea.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) or cervical cancer - HPV is spread by sexual contact and can cause cervical cancer. Some women experience no symptoms but others may have a brown, bloody or watery discharge that may have an unpleasant smell.
Can Periods Cause Clear Discharge?
Periods are more likely to change the colour of your discharge making it less likely to be clear.
Vaginal discharge can change throughout your menstrual cycle. That’s because your hormones can affect how much fluid your cervix produces, and even what it looks and feels like.
On the first day of your period, the levels of two important hormones, oestrogen and progesterone are low. Oestrogen is responsible for vaginal discharge production, and at this point in your cycle, your cervix isn’t producing much. It’s unlikely you would notice this because you will have a period.
What does clear discharge mean after a period?
Clear discharge after a period usually means your hormone levels are returning to normal. However, you may not notice any cervical fluid because oestrogen levels are still on the rise.
As you move through your cycle and closer to ovulation, that is where an egg is released from your ovary and can become fertilised, leading to pregnancy, you may notice more vaginal fluid is being produced. At this point it may appear:
During ovulation, your body produces more cervical fluid and it may become more slippery as the water content increases. You may even notice that it has an egg-white consistency around 1-2 days before ovulation.
How to stop clear discharge after a period?
White or clear odourless discharge is common and is usually a sign that the reproductive system is working as it should be.
Why is there a clear discharge before my period?
After ovulation, your cycle moves into the luteal phase and your vaginal discharge will change again. At this point, you may notice that the discharge becomes more stretchy or stringy. Some women may notice that their vaginal discharge becomes sticky, dry, or you may not have any discharge at all.
Clear Discharge and Pregnancy
During the early stages of pregnancy, the body experiences many hormonal changes. Changes in vaginal discharge are normal, especially during the early stages of pregnancy. Some women notice they have a milky white discharge or leucorrhoea, a thick white, odourless vaginal discharge.
Is clear discharge a sign of pregnancy?
No, clear discharge isn’t usually a sign of pregnancy. Vaginal discharge may change colour or consistency during your menstrual cycle.
Is clear discharge during early pregnancy a cause for concern?
It is normal to have vaginal discharge during pregnancy. It helps to prevent infections travelling from the vagina into the womb.
If you experience unusual vaginal discharge during pregnancy it may be a sign of infection, such as thrush.
The symptoms of thrush include:
- white, cottage-cheese like vaginal discharge
You can help to prevent thrush from occurring by wearing loose, cotton underwear and washing in plain water or unperfumed soap.
If your vaginal discharge changes during pregnancy you should contact your doctor or midwife to check for any underlying causes.
Does discharge change during pregnancy?
Yes, when you are pregnant your body may produce more discharge than before. In the first couple of weeks of pregnancy, many women notice a more milky discharge.
As you approach full-term, you may notice a further increase of discharge. In the last week of pregnancy, you may notice that your discharge has streaks of jelly-like pink mucus. This is called a “show”, and is a normal part of pregnancy. It is a sign that your body is preparing for labour and you may experience a few of these before birth.
Clear Discharge and Sex
The production of clear, vaginal discharge before, during and after sex is normal, and is a result of increased sexual arousal. Clear discharge helps to lubricate your vagina and prepare it for sexual intercourse. It’s caused by an increased blood flow to the glands in the vagina, resulting in a clear, thin fluid.
Some women also have discharge for up to 2 days after sexual intercourse, particularly if their male partner has ejaculated inside the vagina. The semen will then leave the body in the form of vaginal discharge.
Vaginal discharge after sex isn’t usually anything to worry about unless it:
- smells foul or fishy
- is thick and white, resembling cottage cheese
- green, yellow, or frothy,
- is accompanied by other symptoms
- presents with pelvic pain or unexpected bleeding, especially after the menopause
If you notice any changes to your vaginal discharge after sex or have any of the above symptoms you should seek medical advice from your doctor, nurse, or local sexual health clinic.
Why do I have clear discharge after sex?
Clear discharge after sex is often normal but if you notice any changes to the smell, colour, or texture then you should speak to your doctor.
Clear Discharge and Menopause
During and after menopause, you will notice many changes to and within your body. These changes arise from fluctuating hormone levels, especially oestrogen. Menopause is characterised by falling oestrogen levels which affects the amount of cervical fluid the body produces.
As oestrogen levels decline, so does the production of vaginal discharge. The process is called vaginal atrophy. It is where the vaginal walls become thinner, drier, and lose their elasticity. This can cause symptoms, such as:
- pain during sex
- abnormal discharge
For many women, the production of vaginal discharge will stop after menopause. This isn’t the case for all women and some may still produce some watery, clear discharge after menopause. This is not usually anything to worry about unless it occurs with other unusual symptoms.
If you are experiencing vaginal dryness or a lack of discharge, you may find it helpful to:
- clean your vaginal area with plain water or unperfumed products
- use vaginal moisturisers
- use oestrogen containing creams or pessaries to keep your vagina lubricated
- use water based lubricants before sex
Some women experience yellow discharge after menopause. This can be a sign of infection and can be caused by changing pH levels. Vaginal dryness can mean you are more susceptible to infections during and after the menopause.
If you have a change in vaginal discharge after the menopause you should contact your GP for review.
How to Prevent Clear Discharge
Clear discharge is usually a normal, healthy sign and not a cause for concern. You may notice an increase in vaginal discharge production after exercise, sexual arousal, or before your period.
If you produce lots of vaginal discharge or it is bothering you, you may find it useful to wear pantyliners. These are thin absorbent pads that line your underwear and can help to keep you feeling fresh, clean, and dry.
You can help prevent infection by:
- washing in water or unperfumed bathing products
- wearing loose fitting, cotton underwear
- using a condom during sexual intercourse
Do you need to prevent clear discharge?
No, clear vaginal discharge is usually normal.
When should I see a doctor about my discharge?
If you notice any changes to your vaginal discharge, you should see your doctor. Changes in colour, smell, or texture may be a sign of infection or another gynaecological problem but you should not self-diagnose. A doctor will be able to tell you what type of problem you have by asking you a few simple questions, and if necessary, carrying out some tests.