The color and consistency (thickness) of leucorrhea varies daily at different points in the menstrual cycle. Clear, thick discharge is common in most women during ovulation and at other specific times, such as during sexual arousal.
This article will explain what causes clear, thick discharge, management strategies, and when to see a healthcare provider.
The term “woman” is used herein to refer to a person who identifies as female and has reproductive organs typical of a cisgender female. We recognize that the anatomy of some people who call themselves female differs from that described in this article.
What causes clear, thick discharge?
Clear vaginal discharge is normal and can be due to a variety of reasons. Ovulation, sexual activity, pregnancy, lifestyle factors and even stress can cause a clear, thick discharge.
Difference Between Normal and Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
When you ovulate, your body secretes a clear secretion that is stretchy, sticky, or smooth. The discharge may resemble egg whites in appearance and is an indicator of fertility.
There may also be higher emissions during this period. Before ovulation, the vaginal glands produce 30 times as much cervical mucus as after ovulation.
Monitoring cervical mucus can help women know when they are most fertile during their cycle. The following factors need to be considered when observing cervical mucus:
- Appearance: This refers to color and consistency. During ovulation, the discharge is usually clear and stretchy.
- Feeling: How mucus feels in the vulva. During ovulation, it is usually slippery.
- Fertility window: Tracking your menstrual cycle can provide clues about when ovulation is likely to occur and how vaginal discharge changes during each phase of the cycle.
During pregnancy, the walls of the vagina and cervix begin to soften to make room for the growing fetus. The body produces more vaginal secretions to stop the infection from moving up the vagina to the uterus. An increase in the hormone progesterone also helps to increase vaginal discharge.
This is why some women notice that they have more discharge during pregnancy, which may even be mistaken for urine due to the amount of fluid. During most of pregnancy, healthy discharge should be:
- clear or white
Towards the end of pregnancy, the discharge may change, including streaks of blood or mucus. This is probably normal and nothing to worry about.
Many changes occur in the body during menopause, and the vagina often becomes less moist during this time due to declining estrogen and progesterone levels.
However, women still produce discharge, just in smaller amounts. The discharge should be clear and non-irritating.
If the discharge turns yellow or white, it may indicate an infection and you may need to consult your healthcare provider. Disruptions to the vaginal flora, such as thrush and bacterial vaginosis, are more common after menopause because less antimicrobial mucus is produced in the vagina.
How to relieve symptoms of vaginal dryness during menopause
sexual arousal and activity
When the body is sexually aroused, glands in and around the vagina produce arousal fluid. Arousal fluid is produced to lubricate the vagina and prepare it for potential intercourse. Unlike other forms of discharge, wake-up fluid usually goes away within an hour. The wake-up fluid is:
Clear, thick discharge is normal at any time during the menstrual cycle. Normal discharge is about one teaspoon per day and varies in color from clear to white. The secretions may also vary between thick and thin, from tasteless to musky.
Some women experience an increase in watery, clear discharge while exercising. This is normal and nothing to worry about.
Some medications, such as hormonal birth control pills (birth control pills), can affect vaginal discharge.
Combined oral contraceptives that contain progesterone and estrogen can thicken cervical fluid. This helps stop sperm from entering the uterus and prevent pregnancy, but it can change the appearance of the discharge. Some women who take birth control pills may find that their discharge continues to whiten throughout the month.
Vaginal Discharge Color Guide
When to see a healthcare provider
Clear, thick discharge is normal and can occur at any time during the cycle. This is not cause for concern. If discharge is troublesome, panty liners may be worn.
However, a sudden change in discharge or discharge with other symptoms may indicate an underlying problem that requires the attention of a healthcare professional.
You should contact your healthcare provider right away if you have abnormal vaginal discharge with other symptoms, including:
- pelvic pain
- abdominal pain
You should also contact your healthcare provider if you have any of the above symptoms and think you have been exposed to an STI.
It is important to watch for symptoms that may indicate an infection and seek medical attention. Talk to your healthcare provider if you experience persistent or intense irritation to your vagina or vulva or any of the following:
- itching in the genital area
- redness in the genital area
- genital swelling
- Sudden change in discharge (color, amount, smell, or consistency)
- worsening symptoms
- Symptoms that last more than a week
- burning in urine
- blisters on the vagina or vulva
Symptoms of abnormal vaginal discharge to look out for
Clear, thick discharge can occur at any time during the menstrual cycle and is nothing to worry about. Significant discharge can indicate ovulation and pregnancy, but can also occur during sexual arousal, menopause, or even exercise. If you are concerned about your vaginal discharge, or if your vaginal discharge changes suddenly and is accompanied by symptoms such as fever or cramping, make an appointment to speak with your healthcare provider.
The vagina is self-cleaning, and the secretions it produces play an important role in keeping the vaginal environment healthy. If you have a clear, thick discharge, it’s usually a sign that your vagina is working at its best. Knowing how your normal discharge looks and feels at different points in your cycle and what causes concern is a great way to take control of your health.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is clear jelly-like discharge?
Clear and jelly-like vaginal discharge is normal and may indicate that you are ovulating or about to ovulate. Before ovulation, the body produces up to 30 times as much secretion. It usually has the consistency of egg white (or jelly) and may be springy or sticky.
Clear vaginal discharge is not pregnant?
Clear vaginal discharge can be a sign of pregnancy, but it doesn’t necessarily mean pregnancy. The discharge is clear for most of a woman’s menstrual cycle. But during pregnancy, the body increases vaginal mucus production to help prevent infection from passing through the vagina into the growing uterus of the fetus.
What’s the difference between discharge during menstruation and discharge during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, healthy discharge is clear or white and rarely smells bad. This is not the same as fluid that leaves the body over a period of time.
For a period of time, blood will flow out of the vagina. This may last from three to eight days. When a period is at its heaviest, the blood is usually red. On lighter days, vaginal discharge may be black, brown, or pink.