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Amy is a Board Certified Family Health Nurse Practitioner (FNP) with over 15 years of experience working in Hospital Medicine, Urgent Care and Primary Care practices. Amy graduated Thomas Jefferson University with high distinction earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2008, a Master of Science in Nursing in 2010 and a Post Master's Certificate in Adult Gerontology Acute Care (AGAC) in 2014. She was recognized by the Elite American Nurses Association in 2013 for her dedication, achievements and leadership in the field Nursing. She served as a clinical preceptor for a number of Nurse Practitioner students and enjoys teaching the bright minds of future NPs.
The vagina does a great job of cleaning and lubricating itself. However, in some cases, it produces a watery discharge that makes it feel as though you peed yourself, leaving you in an uncomfortable position.
Despite the odd feeling, vaginal discharge is entirely normal and is not usually a cause for concern, although certain precautions can help you feel less uncomfortable. However, there are some changes that may signify a problem, which we will discuss throughout this article.
Table of Contents
- What Does Watery Discharge Mean?
- Types Of Watery Discharge
- What Causes Watery Discharge?
- What Can I Do When I Have Watery Discharge That Feels Like I Peed Myself?
- When To See a Doctor?
- Key Takeaways
What Does Watery Discharge Mean?
Vaginal discharge is a normal fluid that comes out of the vagina, and watery discharge is typically white or clear and has only a mild odor. Some women may experience it every day, whereas others only occasionally.
On top of that, the type and amount of discharge you experience can also change based on your menstrual cycle and stage of life, which means that significant hormonal changes such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can affect it.
Types of Watery Discharge
Watery discharge refers to the viscosity and consistency of it, which is typically very thin and light. However, the color of this discharge can say a lot about your internal health.
Clear or white discharge is very normal and may be due to exercise, ovulation, or sexual arousal.
In most cases, brown discharge occurs when you are near the end of your period, during the time when your vagina cleans out older blood. However, brown discharge may also occur around ovulation or early in a pregnancy, especially when you would have had your period if you weren’t pregnant.
Discharge of this color may signify an infection, especially if it is clumpy and thick or accompanied by a strange odor.
What Causes Watery Discharge?
Most causes of watery discharge are harmless. However, in some cases, a change in the amount or consistency of discharge can signify an infection.
It is normal for pregnant women to experience discharge that is more watery than usual. This is because, during pregnancy, the vaginal walls and cervix soften, and to protect the womb, the body produces more vaginal discharge as a preventative measure against infections.
Additionally, as you get closer to your due date, your discharge will likely become heavier, which is a sign that your body is preparing for labor.
Some people who are pregnant may mistake watery discharge for their water breaking. However, vaginal discharge is thin and clear, whereas when your water breaks, it releases amniotic fluid, which is pale and straw-colored.
Ovulation is a part of the menstrual cycle where the ovaries release an egg, and it occurs around 14 days before the first day of your next period. Leading up to ovulation, discharge can appear slippery, clear, and stretchy, with a consistency similar to egg whites. The body can also produce up to 30 times more mucus leading up to ovulation than it does after ovulation.
Hormonal Birth Control
Hormonal birth control prevents pregnancy by increasing the amount of estrogen and progesterone in the bloodstream. However, this can also cause changes to your vaginal discharge. Some people may experience less, whereas others may experience more.
When you are sexually aroused, blood rushes to the vagina and triggers the release of lubricating fluids. Because of this, discharge may be more common or present in a greater amount following sexual intercourse.
Periods of significant hormonal changes can affect the amount of vaginal discharge your body produces, and menopause is one example of this. With menopause, estrogen levels dramatically decrease, which can cause vaginal atrophy. This is a condition where the walls of the vagina become thinner, and watery discharge is common with it.
If a foreign object, such as a condom or tampon, is left in the vagina for an extended amount of time, your vaginal discharge may change. If this occurs to you, be sure to visit a doctor.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis, can cause your vaginal discharge to change.
If you have one of these STDs, you may notice other symptoms such as:
- burning sensation
- unpleasant odor
- pain during urination
- sores or rashes in the vagina
- abnormal bleeding
If you think you have been exposed to an STD, it is crucial to see a doctor as, if left untreated, STDs can increase the risk of cervical cancer, lead to problems with infertility, and increase the susceptibility to HIV if exposed.
Vaginal Yeast Infection
A vaginal yeast infection most often occurs when candida albicans, a fungus that is a natural part of the microflora of the vagina, overgrows.
Some signs of a yeast infection include:
- burning sensation when urinating or during sexual intercourse
- severe itchiness and irritation of the vulva and vagina
Those with vaginal yeast infections often notice a change in vaginal discharge, which will appear thick, odor-free, and white, resembling cottage cheese. While less common, some people with a vaginal yeast infection may instead have a watery discharge.
Another infection affecting the vagina is bacterial vaginosis (BV), which occurs when there is an imbalance in the bacteria that reside in the vagina, leading to an overgrowth of lactobacillus bacteria. This allows the Gardnerella vaginalis bacteria to dominate the vagina, along with other anaerobic organisms.
Those with BV may not have any symptoms, or they may have the following:
- vaginal discharge with a fishy odor
- vaginal irritation
In addition, BV can make someone more susceptible to STDs such as herpes, chlamydia, HIV, and gonorrhea.
What Can I Do When I Have Watery Discharge That Feels Like I Peed Myself?
In general, watery discharge is not anything to be concerned about. In fact, you will instead want to watch for any changes in your discharge, as this may signal infection.
For example, a yeast infection can cause a thick, white, and clumpy discharge, while bacterial vaginosis can cause a grayish-white and thin discharge with a strong fishy smell. There are also some STIs that can produce unusual discharge.
To watch for these infections, look for any changes in the odor, color, amount, or consistency of your vaginal discharge.
Otherwise, the following tips can help when you have excessive watery discharge:
Wear a Panty Liner
A panty liner is a great, thin source of extra protection for those with excessive watery discharge that continually leaks through their underwear.
Change Your Underwear
For those who find panty liners uncomfortable, another option is to change your underwear multiple times a day if the wet sensation is bothersome.
Protect Your Vaginal Health
While watery discharge is rarely a sign of concern, there are actions you should take to prevent abnormal discharge, such as:
- avoiding wearing tight pants, bike shorts, or pantyhose for long periods of time
- wipe front to back after a bowel movement
- avoid hot tubs
- wear cotton underwear
- skip wearing underwear at night
- avoid feminine hygiene sprays
- avoid putting perfumed or colored feminine products on or near the vagina.
When to See a Doctor?
While watery discharge is not often because of a problem, if it is something that you are concerned about, schedule a visit with a primary care doctor, gynecologist, or OB-GYN.
Additionally, if your watery discharge is accompanied by symptoms such as soreness or itching in the vagina, it is recommended to see a doctor as this may indicate a problem. Other concerning symptoms may be excessive discharge, changes in viscosity or color, fever, or pain in the pelvis or abdomen.
If you have unusual discharge and think you may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (STI), it is also recommended to visit a doctor.
Get Help From an Online Doctor!
If you are unsure if your vaginal discharge is typical or are concerned about it, an online doctor is a great way to quickly gain guidance on your vaginal discharge. With DrHouse, you can meet with an online doctor in 15 minutes to discuss your vaginal discharge or any other symptoms and what might be causing it. Depending on the cause, your doctor can also prescribe treatment, such as antibiotics, to treat the infection and help you feel better.
Vaginal discharge is a natural fluid that can provide great guidance on a woman’s vaginal health. Despite it feeling odd to have watery discharge, sometimes feeling as though you peed yourself, it is most often not a cause of concern.
Normal watery discharge is clear or white and has only a mild odor. Some causes of this discharge can include pregnancy, sexual arousal, ovulation, or hormonal birth control. However, infections such as STIs, yeast infections, or bacterial vaginosis can cause a change in the color or odor of vaginal discharge.
Vaginal discharge can be uncomfortable, but using panty liners or changing underwear multiple times a day can help increase comfort and prevent infections. Additionally, it is recommended to see a doctor whenever there is a change in the color, odor, consistency, amount, or frequency of vaginal discharge.
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- Rao, V., & Mahmood, T. (2020). Vaginal discharge. Obstetrics, Gynaecology &Amp; Reproductive Medicine, 30(1), 11-18. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.ogrm.2019.10.004
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