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Women's Health

Got Some Watery Discharge Going On? This Could Be What's Up.

A few weeks ago, while I was talking to a friend who is post-menopause about how I really think that there needs to be far more information out there about perimenopause, she sighed, laughed, and then asked, “Have you started to feel like you’re peeing on yourself yet?”

Umm…NO. Girl, what?


She then went on to talk about how,for about a year straight, she would randomly have streams of what felt like urine running out of her and, when she finally went to the doctor about it, they said that it had to do with her hormones fluctuating all over the place because she was on the tail end of perimenopause andher vagina was in a bit of atrophy. Listen, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a billion times: it seems like the only time when our world, as women, isn’t revolving around a menstrual cycle, is before they ever begin. Otherwise…GOODNESS.

Anyway, after speaking to some other post-menopausal women about this very topic and then thinking about some of the times when I’ve had random bouts of watery discharge, even back in my early 30s, I decided that now is as good a time as any to tackle this topic — in case it’s something that some of you have or are currently going through…and you’re not quite sure what to make it of it.

What Is Healthy Discharge?

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Okay, so let’s start with a brief rundown on why we have vaginal discharge at all and what the indications are that it’s healthy. Long story short, vaginal discharge is a fluid that comes out of your vagina that helps to both clean and lubricate your vagina (which is why douching is totally unnecessary). Depending on the time of the month that your cycle is in, your discharge can change, although the average amount of healthy discharge tends to be somewhere between 1-4 milliliters (which equals out to ½ teaspoon) daily. Texture-wise, it may be watery or a bit thicker. Color-wise, it may be clear to off-white.

As far as what a healthy vagina smells like — that can vary. When it’s highly acidic, it might smell fermented. When you’re on your cycle, it may smell like copper (due to the blood). If it smells kind of like molasses, there could be an overgrowth of bacteria going on (although that’s not usually anything to be too concerned about).

Really, healthy discharge can be its own article; however, this is a pretty good overall description if you’re looking for something to compare your own vaginal discharge to.

What Is Unhealthy Discharge?

Unhealthy-dischargeGiphy

Now that you know about healthy vaginal discharge, what are some signs that yours may not be as healthy as it should be? Pretty much, it’s the opposite of everything that I just said. I will say that there is an exception when it comes to the color because if you see red, pink, or even brown and it’s around your cycle, your period usually has something to do with it (if it’s not around your period, you should alert your doctor because there may be an underlying health issue going on).

Outside of that, though, a yellow or greenish color typically means that you have either a bacterial infection or an STI/STD and grayish hues usually point to some type of bacterial vaginosis (BV). Odor-wise, your vagina should never smell fishy (that’s also an indication of some type of infection). If it smells like ammonia sometimes, that could be because your urine is too strong (drinking more water can help that out); if it smells like an onion, it could be due to emotional stress and if it smells like death (literally), that could be because you left a tampon in too long or some remnants of the tampon is still stuck in your vagina.

It’s also wise to remember that healthy discharge isn’t really irritating, so if yours is itchy, burning, or super thick, also see your physician as soon as you can.

What Does Watery Discharge Mean?

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Alright, now that you know (or have recapped) what healthy and unhealthy vaginal discharge is like, let’s get into today’s main topic: watery discharge. Although I already touched on the role that perimenopause and menopause can play, there are other things that can lead to this type of discharge too:

Ovulation: Honestly, a lot of this is more about yourcervical fluid/cervical mucus that becomes thinner and more slippery when you’re ovulating, so that it’s easier for sperm to get to your eggs. What causes this to happen is a spike in your estrogen levels. It’s nothing to be alarmed about.

Pregnancy: Another time in your life when your estrogen levels may remain pretty high iswhen you’re pregnant — and yes, that can cause some watery discharge too; the kind that may increase as your pregnancy progresses. So long as the discharge isn’t accompanied by any of the unhealthy signs that I mentioned earlier, you should be fine when it comes to watery discharge here as well.

Sexual Arousal: Something else that can cause more discharge that seems watery is when you’re sexually aroused. Whenever that happens, more blood flows to your vaginal region and that can cause natural lubrication to transpire. This, right here, is always a good thing. Oh, and for those of you who wonder if squirting would fall under this category, check out, “Is Squirting Really Worth The Hype?” Come to think of it, one more “oh” — if you find yourself “getting wet” without direct sexual stimulation (or maybe even wanting to), the term for that is arousal non-concordance. It’s basically what happens when your body lubricates during times when your mind may not be thinking about it or would like it to happen.

Vaginal Sweat: Something else that can lead to watery discharge: something known as vaginal sweat.For the record, although your vagina itself doesn’t contain any sweat glands, when your vulva (the outer part of your vagina) and/or thighs produce an excessive amount of sweat due to things like exercise; heat; panties that don’t “breathe” (check out “These Are The Kinds Of Panties Your Vagina Actually Prefers”); pubic hair; being overweight, and pads and pantyliners, that’s what it tends to be called. Also, nothing to fret about (although you should go with wearing cotton panties if that’s not what you’re usually wearing so that your vulva can cool off more easily).

5 Ways to Keep Your Discharge Just How It Should Be

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Now that you know a little bit more about watery discharge, you might also be curious about what you can do to keep yours at a healthy amount. Here are five quick tips.

1. Get your hormone levels checked. Since a lot about what goes on with discharge is about what your hormones are (or aren’t) doing, if lately, you’ve been noticing more vaginal discharge than usual, ask your doctor to check your hormone levels. If they’re imbalanced, there are a myriad of options that can help to get them back on track.

2. Wash your vagina properly. The reason why I’ve written articles like “Are You Washing Your Vagina Correctly? You Sure?,” “Have You Ever 'Spring Cleaned' Your Vagina Before?” and even “Love On Yourself With These 7 All-Natural DIY Vaginal Washes” is because, when it comes to how to correctly cleanse their vagina (which is really more like your vulva because your vagina doesn’t need any help in the cleaning department), many people know very little about it. For starters, if you’re using heavy perfumes or vaginal washes that contain a lot of chemicals, it could end up irritating your va-jay-jay and that can result in an increase of discharge. When it comes to vaginal cleansing, product-wise, less is always gonna be more.

3. Change out of wet clothes quickly. If you want to decrease vaginal sweating, get out of sweaty clothes as soon as you can. Not only can this prevent more wetness from occurring, but you will also decrease the chances of creating a breeding ground for yeast infections to occur (because dark, warm, and wet places are where yeast will thrive).

4. Make sure it’s not incontinence.Sometimes, what people think is excessive discharge can actually be incontinence that’s caused by an infection (like a urinary tract infection), a weak pelvic floor, constipation,an overactive bladder, or even stress. The cheat sheet on this one is no, your discharge should not constantly smell like urine. If it does, lean into you having an incontinence issue — and share it with your doctor.

5. USE. CONDOMS. Every time that I read thatonly one-third of men and one-fourth of women use condoms, I get triggered. Oftentimes, when your discharge is working overtime, it’s to try and get something out that shouldn’t be in there (like bacteria). Using condoms during sex helps to make things easier on your vagina — so unless you’re in a long-term exclusive relationship, condoms always need to be in use.

___

Watery discharge? It’s pretty much a fact of life that will creep up at one time or another. Now that you know what can be the causes of it, hopefully, you know what to do about it…whatever the cause of it may be.

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Featured image by dvulikaia/Getty Images

 

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