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Vaginal discharge is completely normal. A typical women produces about one teaspoon a day, although it often goes unnoticed. Also, the amount varies from woman to woman and there are reasons for an increase in discharge as well as a change in consistency. What causes clear vaginal discharge and what effects these secretions?
Vagina discharge is the result of secretions of the cervix and vagina. Cervical glands naturally produce a clear mucus. This mucus can turn white or yellow when exposed to oxygen. The walls of the vagina may also contribute to discharge.
Hormone levels in the body have a lot to do with the amount of normal discharge as higher levels of estrogen lead to more secretions. This is why there may be noticeable differences during different stages of the menstrual cycle as hormone levels fluctuate. So, for instance, before ovulation vaginal discharge may be heavy for some women. During ovulation the discharge will still be clear, but it will have a stretchy consistency. Other factors such as stress and sexual excitement can increase the amount of discharge. During pregnancy women may experience more secretions then normal.
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Normal vs. Abnormal
Clear vaginal discharge with no odor is perfectly normal. It is also possible for healthy discharge to be whitish or yellowish, or even brown after a period. Normal discharge can be watery, but it also may be stringy and sticky. Some women will have heavy secretions and may even need to wear a thin pad during certain times of the month. Others will rarely notice vaginal discharge. When there is no odor, nor other accompanying symptoms, clear discharge is nothing to worry about. When is discharge a sign of a health problem such as a bacterial infection or a sexually transmitted disease?
If vaginal discharge is:
- Green, gray or yellow
Or if there are other symptoms such as itching, irritation, pain in the pelvic area or abdomen or fever, it may be a sign of an infection or other health issue. If unsure or if symptoms persist it is important to make an appointment with your doctor.
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The causes of clear vaginal discharge include hormone fluctuations, sexual excitement, stress and a healthy reproductive system. While there is always bacteria present in the vagina, factors such as poor immune health, poor diet, the use of feminine deodorants and douches and poor hygiene can lead to a bacterial or fungal infection and changes to your discharge. Having unprotected sex with a partner who has a sexually transmitted disease can also lead to health problems. Take care of your health and well-being and if there is any reason to believe there is a problem, see your doctor just to be safe.
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Medicine Plus, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003158.htm
Cleveland Clinic, http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/vaginal_discharge/hic_vaginal_discharge.aspx
Palo Alto Medical Foundation, http://www.pamf.org/teen/health/femalehealth/discharge.html