Vaginal discharge that is clear and sticky is normal. It varies at different points during the menstrual cycle, such as before and after ovulation.

A person may also notice more clear discharge when they are aroused or during exercise.

This article will discuss the causes of clear, sticky discharge, what it looks like, and when a person should speak to their doctor about unusual discharge.

Clear, sticky discharge is often normal. It may signal:

  • arousal
  • ovulation
  • changes in diet or exercise
  • the presence of medication

The following sections will discuss these possible causes in more detail.

Ovulation

It is not uncommon for discharge to change during the course of a monthly cycle.

According to some experts, discharge can signal fertility and ovulation. Discharge that is clear, sticky, or stretchy may indicate that a person is entering a moderately fertile time of the month before ovulation.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy can cause vaginal discharge to change colors and textures.

White or cloudy discharge is normal during pregnancy. If the discharge is clear or watery, it may be urine or amniotic fluid.

However, it may be difficult to tell the difference between the two. A person should talk to their doctor if they experience changes in their discharge during pregnancy, especially if it is bothering them.

Learn more about the different types of discharge a person may experience during pregnancy here.

Menopause

After menopause, a person may experience fewer instances of clear discharge. This is because the vagina will secrete less fluid. This happens when estrogen levels decrease.

If a person has yellow-white discharge that smells, it could be a symptom of an infection. Infections after menopause may occur more frequently because the vagina does not secrete as much antibacterial mucus.

Sexual arousal

When a person is sexually aroused, the vagina dilates and fills with blood. The swelling from the blood creates a reaction wherein the body secretes fluids to lubricate the vagina. This additional fluid makes penetration easier and more pleasurable.

Exercise

During exercise or other physical activities that produce sweat, a person may notice additional clear discharge coming from the vagina.

In these cases, the sweat from exercise will mix with the vaginal discharge, making it difficult to tell the difference between the two fluids. Any extra odor may be due to sweat.

To avoid potential infection, a person should change their underwear and clothes after working out. It is best to keep the vagina clean and dry. Also, after taking a shower, a person should use a fresh towel.

Medication

Certain medications can decrease vaginal discharge and lubrication during sexual activities. Medications that affect estrogen levels can lead to vaginal dryness, which means that a person could see less discharge.

Some common culprits include:

Everyone is different. Normal discharge will be heavier for some people and lighter for others. Discharge will also vary slightly in both color and odor.

According to one older review, changes in vaginal discharge — such as an increase in the amount — are common and not usually a cause for concern.

If a person experiences an increase in discharge that is thick, has a strong odor, or is bright yellow or green, it could be a symptom of infection.

Clear, watery discharge is often normal, especially near ovulation. It can also occur as a result of hormonal changes, sexual arousal, or pregnancy.

Unless it is foul smelling or other symptoms are present, it is likely benign.

Everyone’s vagina is slightly different, with some people noticing a lot more discharge than others. A person should talk to their doctor if changes in their discharge are bothering them.

A person should also see their doctor if their vaginal discharge is accompanied by:

  • a bad smell
  • a rash
  • itchiness
  • soreness

A person should also talk to their doctor if their discharge changes color to yellow or green or becomes clumpy or thicker. These are all symptoms of an infection that likely requires medical attention.

Clear vaginal discharge is typically not a cause for concern. A person may notice additional discharge at different times, such as during sexual arousal or following exercise.

A person should see their doctor if their discharge has a bad odor and there are other symptoms present, such as a rash or a change in color, as these could be symptoms of an infection that requires medical treatment.