Watery Vaginal Discharge: Is It Normal and What Causes It?

What Watery Discharge Can Mean

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Watery vaginal discharge is normal and can be a sign of a healthy vagina. The vagina produces discharge to clean itself and also produces more discharge around the time of ovulation.

However, if the color or viscosity (thickness) of discharge changes, or clear, watery discharge is accompanied by other symptoms like itching or soreness in the vagina, it may be an indication of a problem.

Learn more about the causes of watery discharge, and when you should see a healthcare provider.

The word “woman” is used in this article to refer to people who identify as women and have typical reproductive organs of a cisgender female. We recognize that some people who identify as women do not have the same anatomy as that depicted in this article.

Woman in bathroom reaching for a panty liner

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Causes of Watery Vaginal Discharge

Watery vaginal discharge is typically normal and can be due to natural hormonal fluctuations that occur during reproductive processes in a woman's body, like ovulation and pregnancy, or during sexual arousal or menopause.

Watery Discharge and Ovulation

Ovulation typically occurs halfway through the menstrual cycle, roughly 14 days before the first day of the next period. In the lead-up to ovulation, discharge may look similar to egg whites and be:

  • Clear
  • Slippery
  • Stretchy

During the lead-up to ovulation, the body makes up to 30 times more mucus than it will following ovulation.

This discharge is more elastic and watery than at other times during the menstrual cycle. Some women may choose to wear panty liners during this time.

Watery Discharge and Pregnancy

When a woman is pregnant, the cervix and vaginal walls soften. To protect the womb, the body increases its production of vaginal discharge to help stop infections from traveling through the vagina to the uterus.

Because of this, some women may find they have more clear to white discharge during pregnancy, and this is normal.

In the final week of pregnancy, the discharge may change from clear to white to discharge that contains thick streaks of mucus or some blood. This is normal and happens because the mucus that has been in the cervix during pregnancy leaves the body as it prepares for birth.

Watery Discharge and Sexual Arousal

During times of sexual arousal, glands in the vagina produce a clear, watery fluid to lubricate the vagina and prepare it for potential sexual intercourse. This discharge is normal and usually goes away within an hour.

The discharge is typically:

  • Clear
  • Wet
  • Moist
  • Slippery

Watery Discharge and Menopause

As estrogen levels decline during menopause, the vagina produces less discharge, and discharge is more likely to be watery. Discharge may also be:

  • Clear
  • White
  • Thin
  • Odorless

Watery Discharge and Infection

Watery discharge is usually a sign of a healthy vagina. But if you have watery or thin discharge with itching or soreness in the vagina, you may have thrush, a vaginal yeast infection. This is a common infection that isn't sexually transmitted and can be treated with anti-fungal medication.

If vaginal discharge suddenly changes and has an unusual or foul smell or changes color or texture, this may signal an infection. Infections may include:

If you think you have any of these conditions, talk with a healthcare provider right away.

When Does Vaginal Discharge Happen?

Vaginal discharge is normal and can happen at any time during the menstrual cycle.

Discharge Before a Period

Discharge can change throughout the menstrual cycle. It may look clear, white or slightly yellow. It may appear darker when it dries on underwear.

The amount of discharge may change depending on the time of the cycle. Discharge may get thicker or thinner throughout the cycle.

In the lead-up to your period, the discharge may change from clear to brown or pink. This is known as spotting and is normal.

Discharge After a Period

Some women may find they have slight spotting following their period. It may be brown or red in color and is typically lighter than a regular period. This is normal and is part of the period finishing.

Unexpected Bleeding

Some women experience unexpected bleeding or spotting throughout their cycle.

In a small 2012 analysis of 201 women's bleeding and spotting patterns during their menstrual cycle, researchers found that about 5% of women experienced spotting midway through the cycle. But many experts believe spotting may be even more common.

Unexpected bleeding throughout the cycle may be pink, red, or brown and is often lighter than a period. It may not require the use of sanitary protection.

Managing Watery Discharge

Watery vaginal discharge is normal and a sign of a healthy vagina. There is no need to do anything to try to stop the discharge, but some women may find the use of sanitary protection helpful.

Tips for Coping with Excessive Discharge

If you are experiencing a large amount of discharge, like around the time of ovulation, or you are experiencing spotting, you may want to wear a panty liner for added protection.

There is no need to worry about discharge that is white or clear, but there are steps you can take to prevent abnormal discharge and protect your overall vaginal health, including:

  • Wiping front to back when using the toilet
  • Avoiding tight pants, pantyhose or bike shorts for extended periods
  • Wearing cotton underwear during the day to allow the genital area to breathe
  • Not wearing underwear at night
  • Avoiding sitting in hot tubs
  • Bathing daily and patting the genital area dry
  • Not using feminine hygiene sprays
  • Avoiding toilet paper that is perfumed or colored

Should You Douche?

Douching is not needed to clean the vagina and may actually be harmful. Douches contain chemicals that can disrupt vaginal pH balance and encourage the growth of unhealthy bacteria. They can spread infection to the uterus and increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). If you notice genital odors, wash the outside of the vagina (called the vulva) with gentle soap and water.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Clear, watery vaginal discharge is rarely a cause for concern. But if you are experiencing excess discharge, or it changes color or viscosity (thickness), especially if it's accompanied by fever and/or pain in the abdomen or pelvis, you should make an appointment with your healthcare provider.

You should also contact your healthcare provider if you have unusual 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 is important to be aware of these. If you experience symptoms, or if they get worse or don't resolve within a week, contact your healthcare provider.

These symptoms may include:

  • Burning with urination, or other urinary symptoms
  • Itching, redness, and/or swelling in the genital area
  • Blisters or sores on the vagina or vulva
  • Sudden changes to the color of discharge
  • Sudden change in odor of discharge
  • Sudden change in consistency of discharge


Watery discharge is usually not a cause for concern and is a sign of a healthy vagina. It can be an indication the vagina is cleaning itself, and can also be an indication of ovulation. If accompanied by other symptoms like itchiness or a sore vagina, it may be caused by an infection or other condition.

If you develop additional symptoms that concern you, make an appointment to see your healthcare provider.

13 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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