So… What Does It Mean If My Discharge Is Watery?

·3-min read
Photo credit: Sophie Mayanne - Getty Images
Photo credit: Sophie Mayanne - Getty Images

Watery discharge. Sure, probably not the first topic of conversation at your Thursday evening pizza-with-the-crew-session – but something that it pays to be clued up on, nonetheless.

Why? Well, discharge, widely speaking, is a hell of a keyhole into your health. It changes with your menstrual cycle, and dramatic alterations to your normal can indicate that it's time to get checked out at the doc's.

Did you know that the average woman produces anything from one to four ml per day, depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle?

So, what is discharge actually for? According to Dr Vanessa Mackay, Consultant Gynaecologist and Spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, discharge is produced by the body (glands at the cervix, to be precise) to protect your vaginal and urinary tracts from infections.

‘It's normal and healthy for a woman to produce a clear or white discharge from her vagina,’ says Dr Mackay. ‘It can be thick or sticky, slippery and wet and it can change throughout the menstrual cycle and during pregnancy. Healthy discharge is clear or white, with no strong smell or colour.’

So... what if yours isn’t? Or there’s a lot more than is usual for you? Keep scrolling for your guide to watery discharge and if / when you should worry about it.

What does clear, watery discharge mean?

There are typically three main causes of watery discharge:

  • Ovulation

  • Sexual arousal

  • Exercise

As such, watery discharge – when not accompanied by strong smells – is not something to be concerned by.

Can Watery Discharge be an Early Sign of Pregnancy?

‘The amount of vaginal discharge varies throughout a women’s menstrual cycle, and most pregnant women will get a pregnancy discharge which is of greater quantity than normal,’ Dr Mackay says.

This is due to changes in hormones. Expect to notice a difference anywhere as soon as a couple of weeks after conception.

But whether your watery discharge is a sure-fire giveaway that you’re expecting? Not quite. If you think you might be – as in you're showing other signs of pregnancy – take a pregnancy test and speak your GP.

Instead, see your watery discharge as a sign of where you’re at with your ovulation cycle. You may notice more discharge ahead of ovulating – between days 11 and 21 of your menstrual cycle, for example.

For some women it will be like egg white-like in consistency – sort of stretchy. For others, it will be super clear and liquid-y. After your period, your discharge will probably look a bit brownish and then may stop for a few days altogether.

What Does it Mean if my Discharge is Watery and Smelly?

As mentioned, healthy discharge is odourless so if yours is leaving you reaching for the body spray, don’t ignore it.

‘Women should contact their healthcare professional if they notice any changes in their vaginal discharge, experience dryness that is worrying them, or notice any strong smell or colour,’ says Dr Mackay.

‘Vaginal infections can cause changes in vaginal discharge.’

Equally, if your watery discharge is accompanied with symptoms such as a burning sensation, itching, a rash or pain, visit your GP to rule out infections (including STIs) such as:

  • Candida

  • Bacterial vaginosis

  • Chlamydia

  • Trichomoniasis

  • Gonorrhea

  • Genital herpes

Is it Normal to have a lot of Discharge, Everyday?

The average woman produces anything from one to four ml of discharge per day, depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle. If you are worried about your discharge, book in with your GP.

Watery discharge: the bottom line

If your discharge is looking more clear and thinner than you're used to, no sweat. It's only if those telltale strong odours, itching or burning have come along for the ride, too, that it's time to book in with your GP.

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