If you thought your period was the only time fluids came out of your vagina, you’re in for a surprise: discharge is a normal part of life in between periods. Clear discharge is perfectly normal, and you may see it a few times during your cycle.
But why do you get clear discharge in the first place? And is there ever a time when discharge is abnormal?
Table of Contents
- 4 Types of Clear Discharge
- 2 Causes for Vaginal Discharge
- 4 Things to Do if You Have Discharge
4 Types of Clear Discharge
Throughout your cycle, you may experience different types of discharge. Some women may also notice that the consistency and color of their discharge changes as they age.
In most cases, discharge is normal, but the color, texture and smell will tell you if something is wrong.
Some of the most common types of normal vaginal discharge you may experience include:
1. Clear Sticky (Stretchy) Discharge
Clear stretchy or clear sticky discharge is typically caused by ovulation. The discharge should have no smell, and resemble egg whites in texture and consistency.
When you approach ovulation, estrogen levels rise and cause your cervix to release more “fertile quality” mucus.
The reason your discharge is clear and stretchy or sticky is because it helps the sperm move up through the vagina to fertilize the egg. Your discharge actually acts as a protective medium for the sperm.
So if your discharge is stretchy, sticky or even a little creamy, there’s a good chance that you’re ovulating. If you’re trying to get pregnant, now is a good time to get busy.
2. Clear Slimy Discharge
Clear slimy discharge may also be a sign of ovulation, but it’s more common to see this type of discharge just after and before your period.
It’s completely normal to see clear discharge before your period. You may also notice that your discharge is white or creamy in color and slimy. This is also normal, and can happen at any time during your cycle.
Some women may see slimy, creamy discharge in the early stages of pregnancy.
3. Clear Gooey Discharge
Clear and gooey discharge may also occur during ovulation, but it may also be a sign of a yeast infection.
The egg-white consistency of ovulation mucus can sometimes appear gooey, but if it’s gooey and looks like cottage cheese, that is abnormal. If your discharge is gooey and lumpy, there’s a good chance a yeast infection is to blame.
A yeast infection will also cause other symptoms in the vaginal area, including:
- Burning or pain during urination
Not all women experience a clumpy, gooey discharge when they have a yeast infection, but those that do may also notice a yeast-like smell.
In most cases, gooey discharge is just a sign of ovulation. If you’re seeing this type of discharge mid-way through your cycle and don’t have any other symptoms, ovulation is the likely cause.
4. Snot Like Discharge
Snot like discharge can be normal, but it may also be a sign of infection. The color and smell will tell you whether it’s time to see a doctor.
If the discharge is white and just snot-like in appearance, it may just be a sign of ovulation.
But if the discharge is green or yellow and has a foul odor, infection is the likely cause.
There are several reasons why your discharge may turn green, or take on a snotty-like appearance.
Chlamydia is a very common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. If left untreated, the infection can damage your reproductive organs.
Most women experience mild symptoms – or none at all – with chlamydia, but this infection can cause serious complications, including infertility.
Common symptoms of chlamydia include:
- Green or yellow, foul-smelling discharge
- Burning during urination
- Frequent urination
- Abdominal and/or lower back pain
- Pain during sex
- Bleeding in between periods
- Bleeding after sex
If you are sexually active, it’s important to get tested for STIs. Chlamydia is easily cured with antibiotics in the early stages of the infection.
Trichomoniasis is another common STI that affects sexually active women and is caused by a parasite. Experts estimate that about 20% of women will develop this infection during their reproductive years.
The most common symptom with this infection is a green, frothy and fishy-smelling discharge. The unpleasant odor is quite strong with this STI, and the discharge may be accompanied by soreness and irritation in the vaginal area.
Some women may also experience:
- Burning during urination
- Lesions in the vaginal walls and cervix
Lower abdominal pain is rare, but can happen.
Like with chlamydia and many other STIs, trichomoniasis is easily treated with antibiotics.
3. Bacterial Vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis, or BV, is another common reason for green discharge, and this infection produces a very strong fishy smell.
BV occurs when there’s an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the vagina. You cannot contract this infection from your partner because it is caused by bacteria that is already in your vagina.
The most common symptom with BV is a foul, fishy smell in the vaginal area. The smell may be stronger after having sex or during your period.
Green or gray and watery discharge is also common with BV. Soreness and irritation is not common with BV.
In some cases, BV causes no symptoms. If left untreated, it may develop into pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Another very common STI, gonorrhea can cause abnormal discharge as well as other
symptoms. This STI is caused by bacteria that can grow and multiply in warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract.
Gonorrhea can also affect the eyes, throat, mouth and anus.
One of the oldest STIs, gonorhea primarily affects the cervix in women, although it can spread to fallopian tubes and the uterus.
More than half of women experience no symptoms with this STI, especially in the early stages. Those that do have symptoms may experience:
- Frequent urination
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Irritation or itching in the vaginal area
- Green or yellow discharge
- Pain or burning during urination
- Bleeding in between periods
If you suspect you might have gonorrhea, it’s important to see your doctor to get tested and treated as soon as possible.
5. Lichen Sclerosus
In some cases, green discharge may be the result of Lichen Sclerosus, a disorder that causes skin changes in the vulva.
The disorder starts off with the appearance of small white patches on the skin. These patches later grown and change in texture to become thin and wrinkled. As the patches thin, they are easily torn. Purple and red bruises are common.
6. Foreign Object
Green, snotty discharge may also be caused by a foreign object in the vagina, commonly tampons. A forgotten tampon may be left in the vagina for days, or bits of a broken condom may get stuck in the vaginal canal.
If a foreign object is causing the discharge, you may also experience:
- Bleeding or spotting
- A foul odor
- Discomfort during urination
- Pelvic pain
- Swelling of the vagina
- Skin redness
- A rash in the vaginal area
If your green discharge is accompanied by any of the symptoms above, see your doctor right away to have the object removed.
2 Causes for Vaginal Discharge
Now that you know what types of discharge there are, you may be wondering why you get it in the first place.
What causes discharge, and what is its purpose?
What Is Discharge?
Just to clear things up: discharge is the vagina’s way of cleaning itself and keeping itself healthy.
Changes to vaginal mucus are caused by hormone production in the body, which is why discharge increases and changes texture during ovulation.
But mucus can also change during arousal. When you’re sexually aroused, blood flow increases to the vulva, vagina and clitoris. This increased blood flow creates swelling, which is called vasocongestion.
Vasocongestion causes a “sweating” reaction, which lubricates the walls of the vagina. The lubrication and mucus combine to create female sexual secretions. These secretions may contain amino acids, carbohydrates, protein and acids produced by lactobacillus, a type of bacteria.
Reasons for Vaginal Discharge
There are several reasons why your vagina releases discharge, and we’ve already covered quite a few of them:
- Ovulation, which can cause:
- Mucus like discharge
- Thick clear discharge
- Yeast infection
But there are other reasons the vagina secretes discharge.
Vulvovaginitis is a condition that causes an infection or inflammation in the vagina or vulva. A very common condition, vulvovaginitis will affect about 30% of women in their lifetime.
There are several things that can trigger this condition, but the most common cause is bacteria. Other causes include:
- Chemical irritants
Symptoms may vary and will depend on the cause of the infection. General symptoms can include:
- Irritation in the vaginal area
- Painful urination
- Inflammation in the labia
- Increased, foul-smelling discharge.
Pregnancy is another cause for discharge, and women typically secrete more mucus than normal during this exciting time.
Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy lead to an increase of discharge, and it may change in color or appearance.
Because yeast infections are common during pregnancy, it’s important to keep a close eye on the texture, smell and color of the discharge.
4 Things to Do if You Have Discharge
Discharge will typically disappear on its own, but there are things you can do to lessen the amount of mucus you see.
Please note that if your discharge is abnormal, you need to see a doctor right away.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) can help restore your vagina’s natural pH levels, which can help normalize your discharge. Its antiseptic and acidic properties also help restore the good bacteria in the vagina, which reduces odors and helps prevent infection.
There are two simple ways to use ACV to treat discharge:
- Drink it. Mix one or two tablespoons of raw ACV into a glass of water, and enjoy.
- Mix equal amounts of ACV and distilled water. Use the solution as a vaginal wash once or twice per day. Do not douche with the mixture.
Douching is not recommended – with ACV, plain water or any other product. In fact, douching can disrupt the natural bacterial balance in the vagina.
2. Indian Gooseberry
Also known as amla, Indian gooseberry is extremely beneficial for the vagina thanks to its antibacterial properties. This berry is also high in immune-boosting vitamin C.
Indian gooseberry is commonly found in health food stores in powder form. To use the powder as a remedy for discharge:
- Mix two teaspoons with enough honey to form a thick paste. Take the mixture twice a day for a week.
- Add one teaspoon to a cup of boiling water. Add a teaspoon of honey, and drink the mixture on an empty stomach.
3. Fenugreek Seeds
Fenugreek is a spice that has been used for centuries to help treat feminine issues. The seeds of the plant have saponins, which stimulate the release of certain hormones from the pituitary gland.
The pituitary gland is called the “master gland” because it supports the thyroid, adrenal glands, ovaries and testes. It’s for this reason that the seeds are believed to affect estrogen levels in the body.
They also work as a potent immune booster.
The easiest way to take advantage of the benefits of fenugreek seeds is to drink it in tea form. But you can also create a vaginal wash.
- Boil two teaspoons in four cups of water for half an hour. Strain the liquid, and allow it to cool. Use the mixture as a vaginal wash a few times per day.
- Soak a teaspoon of the seeds in water, and allow the mixture to sit overnight. Strain the water the next morning, and add honey to taste. Drink the tea on an empty stomach.
4. See Your Doctor
If your vaginal discharge is caused by pregnancy or an infection, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible to get treatment. Your doctor will be able to prescribe medication to clear up the infection. If you’re pregnant, your doctor will help ensure that you and the baby are healthy.