Watery vaginal discharge is normal and may be a sign of vaginal health. The vagina produces secretions to clean itself, and more secretions are produced during ovulation.
However, if the discharge changes in color or consistency (thickness), or if the clear discharge is accompanied by other symptoms such as vaginal itching or soreness, it may indicate a problem.
Learn more about the causes of watery discharge and when you should 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.
Causes of Watery Vaginal Discharge
Watery vaginal discharge is usually normal and may be due to reproductive processes in a woman’s body (such as ovulation and pregnancy) or natural hormonal fluctuations that occur during sexual arousal or menopause.
Watery discharge and ovulation
Ovulation usually occurs halfway through your menstrual cycle, about 14 days before the first day of your next period. Before ovulation, the discharge may look similar to egg whites and be:
Before ovulation, the body produces 30 times as much mucus as it does after ovulation.
This discharge is more elastic and watery than at other times of the menstrual cycle. During this time, some women may choose to wear panty liners.
Watery Discharge and Pregnancy
When a woman becomes pregnant, the cervix and vaginal walls soften. To protect the uterus, the body increases the production of vaginal secretions to help stop the spread of infection through the vagina to the uterus.
Because of this, some women may notice that they have a clearer white discharge during pregnancy, which is normal.
During the last week of pregnancy, the discharge may change from clear to white to one with thick mucus or some blood. This is normal because mucus from the cervix leaves the body during pregnancy as it prepares for labor.
Watery discharge and sexual arousal
During sexual arousal, glands in the vagina produce clear, watery fluid to lubricate the vagina and prepare it for potential intercourse. This discharge is normal and usually disappears within an hour.
Discharge is usually:
Watery Discharge and Menopause
As estrogen levels drop during menopause, the vagina produces less discharge, which is more likely to be watery. Discharge may also be:
When does vaginal discharge occur?
Vaginal discharge is normal and can occur at any time during the menstrual cycle.
discharge before period
Discharge can vary throughout the menstrual cycle. It may appear clear, white or slightly yellow. It may appear darker when it dries on underwear.
The amount of discharge may vary depending on the time of the cycle. The discharge may become thicker or thinner throughout the cycle.
The discharge may change from clear to brown or pink before you get your period. This is called spotting and is normal.
discharge after a while
Some women may find that they have light spots after their period. It may be brown or red in color and is usually lighter than normal. This is normal and part of the closing period.
Some women experience unexpected bleeding or spotting throughout their cycle.
In a small 2012 analysis of bleeding and spotting patterns during menstrual cycles in 201 women, researchers found that about 5 percent of women had spotting mid-cycle. But many experts believe the discovery may be more general.
Unexpected bleeding throughout the cycle may be pink, red, or brown, and is usually lighter than a period. It may not require the use of hygienic protection.
manage water discharge
Watery vaginal discharge is normal and a sign of vaginal health. Nothing needs to be done to stop the discharge, but some women may find it helpful to use hygiene protection.
Tips for dealing with overdischarge
If you have heavy discharge, such as during ovulation, or if you are experiencing spotting, you may want to wear panty liners for added protection.
There’s no need to worry about white or clear discharge, but there are things you can do to prevent abnormal discharge and protect your overall vaginal health, including:
- Wipe from front to back when using the toilet
- Avoid wearing leggings, pantyhose, or bike shorts for extended periods of time
- Wear cotton underwear during the day to allow the genital area to breathe
- no underwear at night
- avoid sitting in a hot tub
- Bathe and pat dry the genital area daily
- Not using feminine hygiene sprays
- Avoid scented or colored toilet paper
Should you rinse?
Douching is not necessary to clean the vagina and, in many cases, can actually be harmful. This is because the chemicals in the douche can disrupt the pH balance of the vagina and promote the growth of problematic vaginal bacteria.
Flushing also poses other risks. It can spread infection to the uterus and may increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). If you notice an odor in the genital area, simply wash the outside of your vagina (called the vulva) with mild soap and water to get rid of the odor.
When to see a healthcare provider
Clear, watery leucorrhea is rarely a cause for concern. However, if your discharge is excessive, or if it changes color or viscosity (thickness), especially if it is accompanied by fever and/or abdominal or pelvic pain, you should make an appointment with your healthcare provider for a test.
You should also contact your healthcare provider if you have abnormal discharge and think you may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
There are some symptoms that may indicate an infection, and it’s important to be aware of these. Contact your healthcare provider if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- burning in urine
- other urinary symptoms
- worsening symptoms
- Symptoms still not resolved after a week
- itching in the genital area
- genital redness
- genital area swelling
- Blisters in the vagina or vulva
- vaginal or vulvar ulcers
- Sudden change in discharge color
- Sudden change in secretion odor
- Sudden changes in discharge consistency
Watery discharge is usually nothing to worry about and is a sign of vaginal health. This may indicate that the vagina is cleaning itself, and it may also indicate ovulation. If it is accompanied by other symptoms, such as itching or vaginal pain, it may be caused by thrush or other conditions. If you have other worrisome symptoms, make an appointment to see your healthcare provider.
Watery vaginal discharge is normal and natural, but it’s also normal if you find wet spots on your underwear embarrassing. The panty liner helps absorb excess water your body produces between periods.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does watery discharge indicate pregnancy?
Watery discharge doesn’t necessarily indicate pregnancy – it could be due to ovulation or sexual arousal. But during pregnancy, levels of a hormone called progesterone increase, which can lead to more secretions.
What infections can cause watery discharge?
Watery discharge is often a sign of vaginal health. However, if you have a watery or thin discharge with vaginal itching or pain, you may have thrush. This is a common infection that is not sexually transmitted. It can be treated with antifungal medication.
What does watery discharge before menstruation mean?
Watery discharge can occur at any time during the menstrual cycle. This is a sign of vaginal health that the body is functioning properly. During ovulation, watery discharge may increase, and some women may prefer to use panty liners during this time.