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A wet mess in your underwear: what does clear watery discharge mean?

3 min read
Cycle Care

Approved by

Ingeborg van Dijk - trainee gynecologist
Clear watery discharge tells you a lot about your cycle and general health. Read more about what it is and what the causes are!

You probably know what we are talking about. You get up out of your chair and suddenly there is a wet mess in your underwear. Did you get your period? Thankfully, no you didn’t. It’s just the clear watery discharge running out of your vagina. It tells you a lot about your cycle and your general health. It’s time to take a deep dive into the subject of clear watery discharge!

What is clear watery discharge?

Clear watery discharge is the fluid that your vagina secretes.The uterus and glands that line the wall of your vagina produce fluid and mucus. You need this to keep your vagina clean and moist. It is called discharge once it comes out of your vagina. A clear, watery discharge without a strong odor is actually quite normal and every vulva owner has this. 

What are the causes of clear watery discharge?

The most common causes are:

Clear watery discharge right before your period

Your discharge changes every few days throughout the course of your cycle. It goes from opaque to translucent, from clumpy to smooth, and from runny to more sticky or gooey. These changes are all related to the changes in your hormone balance during your cycle. Around your ovulation, you’ll notice that your vagina is more wet and your discharge is more slimy. This is entirely normal. 

After your ovulation and a couple of days before your period begins, the discharge becomes more clear watery with an almost fiber like texture and opaque. That happens within the two days after your ovulation. The day of or a couple of days before your period you often don’t have any discharge at all and it can feel very dry down under. 

The perimenopause

During menopause, you have to deal with major hormonal fluctuations that affect your body and mind. For example, you may notice that your skin and eyes become drier, but your vagina can also become drier. It also happens that vulva owners actually have to deal with a lot (more) clear watery discharge after menopause. This is due to the decrease in the hormone estrogen during menopause.


Hormonal fluctuations are also the cause here. Clear watery discharge occurs more often near the end of the pregnancy. Sometimes it is very difficult to differentiate between clear watery discharge and amniotic fluid for the pregnant person. That’s how much discharge can come out of the vagina. The difference between the two is mostly that discharge is always a little sticky and mostly odorless. Amniotic fluid is not sticky and often has a  sweet smell. In addition, your cervix becomes better circulated in pregnancy and therefore also produces more fluid.


If you suffer from clear watery discharge that smells, stinks or changes color, then you could have an infection. This could be bacterial vaginosis, but it could also be a sexually transmittable infection or an STD. The GP can take a test to see what is going on and possibly prescribe treatment.

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Cervical cancer

Clear watery discharge can also be a symptom of cervical cancer. Besides that, the discharge can be brown, bloody, and a lot. Sometimes it can also smell extremely foul. If you suffer from this, it is important to get a pap smear.

Intense exercise

Yes, really! Intense exercise, for example running, has the effect that you lose more discharge. Your body doesn’t produce more discharge due to the running, but due to the movement and friction down there, which results in more clear watery discharge in your underwear. 

Stress and lifestyle

The amount of stress and your lifestyle also affect the amount of discharge. If you suffer from a lot of stress, this can negatively influence your hormone balance. A bad lifestyle can also cause your hormones to be disrupted. And those disrupted hormones can create a lot of clear watery discharge.Not immediately harmful but something to watch out for and do something about!


Certain medicines, like the ones that include hormones, can cause the discharge to become more clear watery. 


Sex can also increase your discharge. This is because the penis brings different bacteria into your vagina than your vagina is used to. Your body is going to respond to this by making more discharge and cleaning your vagina with it.

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When should you go to the doctor?

If you have so much clear watery discharge that you have to change your underwear a couple of times a day, then it is smart to check your hormone balance. A lot of people can make some lifestyle changes (think about nutrition, exercise and stress management) which brings the hormone balance back to normal. If this doesn’t help (enough), then we advise you to go visit your GP to find a solution. If your discharge has a foul smell or an odd color, we always recommend going to the GP to get that checked out.

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Cycle is a community where all aspects of the female body are discussed freely. From menstruation to menopause: we'll help you understand your body, mind, cycle and sexuality better, with the help of our Cycle Experts.