Clear discharge should not be cause for concern. During your ovulation week, you might experience some clear discharge, but it might also happen during periods of sexual excitement, exercising, menopause, etc.
If you have a uterus, you have likely experienced a little something called cervical mucus (a.k.a. benign discharge) which shows up as vaginal discharge. This fluid may seem unimportant and maybe annoying but it provides more information than you may think!
What is vaginal discharge?
Dr. Sophia Yen, CEO and co-founder of Pandia Health agrees that vaginal discharge is anything that comes out of your vagina in a liquid form. Essentially, it is fluid and cells from the vagina that can be white, sticky, clear, or watery; sometimes there is an odor. It can be no big deal (benign) or a sign of infection. Infected discharge would be itchy, green, yellow, chunky white, and/or have a bad odor.
What is cervical mucus?
The most benign discharge is cervical mucus, which is a fluid that comes from the cervix = the bottom of the uterus. More specifically, it is produced by the cervical canal as a result of rising estrogen, a sex hormone.
What is cervical mucus made of?
Although it may look and/or feel gross, cervical mucus is totally natural. It is made up of mucus molecules, water, proteins, and other biochemical compounds (i.e. sodium and potassium).
Why is cervical mucus so important?
The quality of your cervical mucus is a strong indicator of fertility, or your ability to get pregnant at the moment. Essentially, the way cervical mucus looks and feels each time you wipe can help you determine when you are ovulating, or when an egg is being released.
If you are trying to prevent pregnancy, paying more attention to what is in your underwear and on your toilet paper could be quite useful; the fluid released can serve as a sign that you might want to avoid sex or make sure you are covered via contraception that day.
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How do I check my cervical mucus?
To check your cervical mucus and where you are in your ovulation cycle, you must first take an up close look. If you feel comfortable getting up close and personal with your vagina, do the following:
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Gently insert 1 finger up to the first knuckle in your vagina (make sure your nail is not sharp). If you prefer to use an external method, simply check your toilet paper when you wipe your vagina after going to pee.
- Remove your finger and check the texture (i.e. thin, stretchy, sticky) and color. Roll the mucus between your thumb and index finger. Then press the fingers together and see if you can stretch the mucus.
What’s causing period discharge?
It is normal to experience discharge before and after your period. 2 weeks before your period it is normal to have a thin, stretchy, and odorless discharge. This indicates fertility. Read on to learn more about the different discharges during your menstrual cycle.
What causes milky white discharge?
Milky white discharge can be normal. Vaginal mucus aka discharge can be normal and the color/texture will be different in each person. If your discharge is thin, grey, and fishy smelling, then it could be bacterial vaginosis. If it’s not your normal vaginal mucus and is smelly or itchy, see a doctor when next available (it’s not an ASAP moment unless you are having fever or abdominal pain with the discharge).
What should my cervical mucus look like?
The 4 main types of normal cervical mucus are as follows:
- Dry phase = This phase represents the non-fertile portions of a person’s cycle. If you notice that your vagina is relatively dry or slightly damp (the vagina secretes its own fluids separate from cervical mucus) you are likely in the dry phase. Day 1-4 after your period ends and again on Days 14-28
- Sticky phase = During this phase, you are still non-fertile. While everyone’s body reacts differently, the sticky phase typically entails rubbery, cloudy/white cervical mucus. Day 4-6.
- Creamy phase = This phase indicates that you are semi-fertile. Your cervical mucus thickens and appears milky or lotiony, smooth, white. Day 7-9.
- Clear, stretchy phase = Once you are in this phase, you can expect to ovulate soon. Cervical mucus that is clear and stretchy (egg-white consistency) allows sperm to survive the environment of the vagina, and in turn, could lead to pregnancy. Wet, watery, clear phase = Very fertile. Helps sperm to zip up into the uterus. Day 10-14.
When is the best time to have sex?
While you can have sex anytime you and your partner would like, your cervical mucus can play a crucial role in terms of planning around times of fertility. If you want to get pregnant, do it when the mucus is slippery, as this indicates ovulation.
You are more likely to get pregnant both when you have slippery mucus and up to 3 days before (because the sperm can live up to five days inside a person with a uterus). Once your cervical mucus transitions back to the sticky type, unprotected heterosexual sex has less of a chance of leading to unplanned pregnancy.
Is all discharge healthy?
Healthy vaginal discharge is painless, clear or off-white, odorless liquid that flows from your vagina. A change in your discharge (texture, color, smell, or overall amount) may indicate a vaginal infection. For example, if you’re suddenly experiencing more vaginal fluid than usual and if it’s bright yellow or green, thick and chunky, like cottage cheese, or particularly watery discharge, these could be are signs that your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong.
For example, bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an infection that results when healthy bacteria overgrow and cause an imbalance in your vagina; BV is an unusual vaginal discharge that is thin, grayish-white, and smells of fish. In contrast, vaginal yeast infections, result in a thick, white discharge that looks like cottage cheese and may also cause swelling of the vulva, itching, and painful sex. It is also possible to experience excessive vaginal discharge due to arousal, ovulation, or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
If your vaginal discharge is white and clumpy, like cottage cheese, that could be a yeast infection. You can treat it with over the counter intravaginal cream or you can ask your doctor for a prescription pill to treat it. Yeast infections are often also itchy.
If your discharge is clear or white and doesn’t bother you (most likely it’s cervical mucus), there is nothing to worry about. On the other hand, discharge with one or more of the following may be a sign of infection:
- A strong smell (like fish or eggs)
- Bright yellow, green, or gray in color
- Itching, swelling, burning, or irritation
Consult a doctor if you notice the following symptoms in addition to abnormal discharge:
- A missed period (that is not done intentionally with birth control)
- Rashes or sores
- Burning during sex or urination
Funky discharge accompanied by unpleasant symptoms may be indicative of an underlying issue. Certain colors, smells, and bodily reactions are associated with various health conditions.
- White, thick, and no smell= Yeast infection (Also, itching and irritation of the vagina due to an imbalance of bacteria)
- Yellow/green, clumpy, and strong smelling = STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection passed via unprotected sex with an infected partner)
- Gray, thin, and fishy-smelling = Bacterial vaginosis ( due to buildup of certain bacteria in the vagina)
- Pink with no smell = Implantation bleeding (bleeding that occurs before an expected period that could be a sign of pregnancy) or spotting (bleeding between periods)
- Red with no smell = Cervical polyp (growth on the cervical canal), endometrial cancer (cell growth on the endometrium), or cervical cancer (cell growth on the cervix)
Brown with no smell: Old blood, like breakthrough bleeding
How can I ensure a healthy vagina?
TLDR: don’t use soap, perfume, or douche IN your vagina.
Unfortunately, those with uteri cannot prevent all bad health conditions from occurring. However, one can decrease the likelihood of developing frequent infections by maintaining a hygienic vagina.
The vagina self-cleans, so you do not need to do anythingto keep things healthy down there. Avoid soaps, wipes, bubble baths, and other scented products and opt for plain, non-perfumed brands or even just warm water when cleaning.
How can birth control affect discharge?
If you notice a change in your discharge after starting hormonal birth control, don’t panic; this is a normal reaction to the new hormones introduced to your body. Some women even welcome this extra lubrication if they previously experienced vaginal dryness.
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Should I be embarrassed by my discharge?
Absolutely not! Discharge is a natural function of the body that cannot be controlled. If anything, it can be used as a source of connection amongst individuals with a uterus. If anything, individuals with a uterus can connect and bond over their discharge. Rather than feeling ashamed, why not let it empower you to embrace your sexual health?
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Disclaimer: This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.
Please consult YOUR doctor/provider before changing, stopping, or starting any medications.
Disclaimer: This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. Please consult YOUR doctor/provider before changing, stopping, or starting any medications.
If your vaginal discharge is white and clumpy, like cottage cheese, that could be a yeast infection. You can treat it with over the counter intravaginal cream or you can ask your doctor for a prescription pill to treat it. Yeast infections are often also itchy.How do you treat white milky discharge? ›
Bacterial vaginosis occurs when there's too much of a certain bacteria in your vagina. It can be transmitted through sexual contact but not always. People with BV have white or gray discharge that's foul-smelling and fishy. It's treated with antibiotics.What does it mean when you have a lot of creamy milky white discharge? ›
If thick, white discharge goes along with other symptoms, such as itching, burning and irritation, it is probably due to a yeast infection. If not, it is normal discharge. You may also notice an increase in thick, white discharge before and after your period.Should I be worried about milky discharge? ›
As long as the milky white discharge does not have an odor and there are no other symptoms, it's most likely a sign of typical vaginal health. However, if the color of the discharge develops a white-gray shade and a strong fishy odor, the discharge may be a sign of an infection.Is milky white discharge okay? ›
Milky White Discharge Meaning. For people with vaginas, small amounts of milky white discharge can be a sign of natural built-in processes intended to keep sexual organs healthy. Glands in the cervix and vagina routinely produce mucus. Vaginal and cervical mucus is typically clear.What stage is white creamy discharge? ›
Days 7-9: Creamy, yogurt-like consistency. Wet and cloudy. Days 10-14: Stretchy and resembles raw egg whites. Slippery and very wet.What foods stop white discharge? ›
- Apple Cider Vinegar. Apple Cider Vinegar has an antifungal nature, which helps balance the pH of your vagina. ...
- Probiotic Foods. These kinds of food items like yoghurt contain healthy bacteria called Lactobacillus. ...
- Aloe Vera. ...
- Green Tea. ...
- Fenugreek Seeds. ...
- Turmeric. ...
- Amla. ...
Most of the time, vaginal discharge is perfectly normal. The amount can vary, as can odor and color (which can range from clear to a milky white-ish), depending on the time in your menstrual cycle. For example, there will be more discharge when you're ovulating, breastfeeding, or sexually aroused.What color is milky discharge? ›
Normal vaginal discharge is milky or white and is odorless. But sometimes, an imbalance of bacteria in your vagina can cause your discharge to change color. Do you have brown or yellow discharge? Or maybe your discharge is green, white, bloody or dark.How do you know if something is wrong down there? ›
- A change in the color, odor or amount of vaginal discharge.
- Vaginal redness or itching.
- Vaginal bleeding between periods, after sex or after menopause.
- A mass or bulge in the vagina.
- Pain during intercourse.
Yeast infections cause white creamy discharge that is clotted and looks similar to cottage cheese. Symptoms of a yeast infection can also include: Vaginal itching or burning. Genital redness or swelling.What does creamy discharge tell you? ›
Days between your period and ovulation: sticky, white, creamy. Estrogen levels are rising quickly now and the cervix produces more fluid. At first, discharge may look thick and sticky. Then it may become more wet and creamy, like a lotion.What your discharge is telling you? ›
Clear and stretchy — This is “fertile” mucous and means you're ovulating. Clear and watery — This occurs at different times of your cycle and can be particularly heavy after exercising. Yellow or green — May indicate an infection, especially if it's thick or clumpy like cottage cheese or has a foul odor.Which vitamin deficiency causes white discharge? ›
Background & objectives: Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most prevalent vaginal infection in women of reproductive age group which has been found to be associated with vitamin D deficiency.What can I eat or drink to clean my discharge? ›
- Yogurt. Yogurt contains the lactobacillus bacteria, which is also naturally present in your gut, urinary tract, and vagina. ...
- Cranberry juice. ...
- Pineapple. ...
- Apple. ...
- Ginger Tea. ...
- Lemon. ...
- Celery. ...
Some women may notice less or thicker than usual vaginal discharge when they are dehydrated, just like you may notice less, and more concentrated urine when you are dehydrated." "Get to know your body, so if something about your discharge changes, you'll know to check in with a doctor or nurse," says Cullins.What disease symptoms is white discharge? ›
- Vaginal itching, burning or irritation.
- Thick, white vaginal discharge.
- A change in what the discharge usually looks like.
- Bad odor that lasts more than a day.
- Painful intercourse.
- Painful urination.
- Pain or tenderness in your lower abdomen (tummy)
- Blisters, bumps or sores in your genital area.
The vagina tends to lose its moisture after the menopause due to lower oestrogen levels. You will still produce small amounts of discharge after menopause. However, if you are experiencing yellow-white discharge, it is possible you have an infection.Is white discharge cancerous? ›
Ovarian cancer may cause discharge that is often white or clear or that contains blood. This symptom is common among certain types of ovarian cancer but not all. The most common type of ovarian cancer rarely has vaginal discharge or bleeding.Can you get rid of white discharge? ›
Abnormal vaginal discharge is completely treatable. However, it may reoccur— sometimes with regularity. Some women suffer from frequent yeast infections. Vaginosis can also keep coming back.
How long will I have egg white cervical mucus? The egg white discharge lasts about four days. If your cycle is 28 days, the fertile cervical mucus occurs around days 10 to 14.Can yeast infection go away on its own? ›
Fortunately, most yeast infections are not serious. Left untreated, yeast infections will usually go away on their own, but the severe itching can be hard to tolerate for some.What is the name of the medicine for white discharge? ›
CLOTRIMAZOLE (kloe TRIM a zole) is an antifungal medicine. It is used to treat yeast infections of the vagina.What cures yeast infection fast? ›
Best over the counter yeast infection treatments
- Miconazole (Monistat)
- Clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin)
Yeast is most commonly found in processed sugars, gluten-based foods and grains (a candida diet is recommended for people who have a yeast infection). In addition to this, it is also recommended to stay away from meat and starchy vegetables like potatoes and carrots and avoid excessive consumption of alcohol.What happens if yeast infection is left untreated? ›
If left untreated, vaginal candidiasis will most likely get worse, causing itching, redness, and inflammation in the area surrounding your vagina. This may lead to a skin infection if the inflamed area becomes cracked, or if continual scratching creates open or raw areas.