The purposes of the normal vaginal discharge include moistening and cleaning the vagina, and preventing and fighting infections. The texture, amount and color of vaginal fluids vary across the menstrual cycle. However, some changes in the discharge are abnormal and hence it is important to differentiate between normal and abnormal discharges. So what is the normal consistency of discharge? How about clear and sticky discharge? Read on and find out the answers.
Is Clear Sticky Discharge Normal?
Normal vaginal discharge is not very clear but is slightly cloudy mucus because it contains lymphatic transudates, microorganisms, vaginal epithelium cells, cervical mucus, and secretions from sebaceous glands and sweat. But a clear and sticky discharge is normal during ovulation, pregnancy and in case of sexual arousal but the amount of the discharge varies in these three conditions.
Normal day secretions leave a yellowish color on the panty liner. This change during ovulation happens around the 12th to 16th day of a menstrual cycle. The discharge becomes thin, clear, and stretchy, and resembles a raw egg white. The amount increases as well during ovulation and the egg-white resemblance lasts for 2-3 days.
The changes are normal and can be used to plan pregnancy. However, if you want to use this cervical mucus method, you must track the characteristics of your mucus every mid-cycle for several months. Cervical mucus is clear and scanty at the beginning of the cycle but becomes abundant and stretchy a few days to ovulation.
2. Sexual Arousal
It is normal for the clear sticky discharge to intensify just before sex as a result of sexual arousal or orgasm. Healthy women do not experience any itching, irritation or discomfort from vaginal secretions. You can clear your doubts about your cervical discharge by taking a vaginal swab at your gynecologist’s office.
A clear stretchy cervical secretion is normal in the first trimester of pregnancy and before labor. In the first trimester, the cervical secretion results from the hormonal changes in the woman’s body. During labor, the discharge comes from mucus plug, which is a precursor to labor. Consult a doctor and prepare for oncoming labor if the mucous discharge is mixed with blood.
When to Worry About Your Discharge
Clear stretchy cervical discharges are abnormal if:
- They have a bad odor;
- They are accompanied by pain in the lower abdomen;
- They are mixed with brownish clots or blood drops;
- Their amount increases significantly and appear daily for a long time;
- You experience discomfort in your vaginal area;
- Your temperature increases;
- Your health deteriorates significantly and experience lightheadedness;
- They turn greenish, grey, white or yellowish;
Abnormal Vaginal Discharge You Should Pay Attention to
We have already established that a clear sticky discharge is normal. A clear watery vaginal discharge is also normal and may occur at any time of the month, which is heavier after exercising. You need to know the characteristics of abnormal discharged to monitor your health properly.
1. Discharge with Itchiness
It is normal to have a small amount of white discharge at the start or end of your menstrual cycle. However, the discharge is abnormal when accompanied by itching or has a cottage cheese-like, thick consistency. This could be a sign of candida or the yeast infection.
2. Brown or Bloody Discharge
The discharge at the end of your menstrual cycle may appear brown and not red. Spotting or a small amount of bloody discharge between periods is also normal. You may also experience this kind of discharge right after your periods.
However, spotting could be a sign of pregnancy if it occurs on your normal period time after having unprotected sex. Spotting in early pregnancy stages is a sign of miscarriage and requires medical attention. A bloody or brown discharge could also be a sign of cervical cancer, so the need for yearly Pap smear and pelvic exam is necessary.
3. Yellow or Green Discharge
A green or yellow vaginal discharge is abnormal, especially when it has a bad smell and is thick or chunky. This discharge is a sign of trichomoniasis, which is an infection spread through sexual intercourse or through sharing bathing suits and towels. The common symptoms of this infection include inflammation, pain and itching, though some people experience no symptoms. Gonorrhea and Chlamydia may also cause a cloudy, greenish or yellowish discharge.
4. Smelly Discharge
The amount and smell of vaginal discharge varies from one woman to another. A slight odor in your vaginal area is also normal. However, a strong odor from your vagina is abnormal and could be a sign of an infection.
- Bacterial vaginosis is a common bacterial infection that leads to an increased amount of vaginal discharge with a strong, foul, and at times fishy odor. The infection is common among women with multiple sexual partners and those who receive oral sex.
- The pelvic inflammatory disease is spread through sexual contact and occurs when bacteria spread from the vagina to other reproductive organs and cause a discharge with a strong, foul smell.
- The human papillomavirus infection or HPV is spread through sexual contact and may cause cervical cancer. The infection has no symptoms but causes a brown, bloody and/or watery vagina discharge with a bad odor.
What to Do About Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
Now that you know that a clear sticky discharge is normal, you can avoid an abnormal discharge form infections by practicing good hygiene.
- Wear cotton underwear and avoid douches because they remove healthy bacteria, thereby making the discharge worse.
- Practice safe sex to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.
- Take yogurt with live and active cultures to avoid yeast infections that are common when taking antibiotics.
- Use over-the-counter suppository or antifungal cream to treat a yeast infection.
- A cold compress like an ice park or washcloth can help in relieving swelling, itchiness and discomfort in the vulva.
- Abstain from sexual intercourse or use protection for weeks when you start treatment. See your doctor if the symptoms persist for more than a week.