The Truth Behind That Watery Discharge That Feels Like You Peed Yourself
Hey, it happens. (And it’s usually not a cause for concern.)
From a very young age, most people with a vagina and vulva get used to playing a game called "Why Is the Crotch of My Underwear Wet Today?!" Though pretty self-explanatory, the game is rigged against those who have no choice but to play it. You see, most people learn that urine (the fancy word for pee) comes out of the urethra, and for several decades, menstrual blood can come out of the vagina. End of list. So when people with a vagina find clear, watery discharge in their underwear, of course, our first suspicion will either be that we peed ourselves or we are getting our period. And when we realize it's neither urine nor blood down there, it can be pretty unsettling.
Well, fear not: It's the American approach to sex education that's broken — not you. That watery discharge that came out of your vagina is completely normal and healthy. We know what you're thinking: "Yeah, but that watery discharge feels like I peed myself!" Rest assured, while it may feel like you had an accident, it probably doesn't look like it. Anyway, here's what to know about this annoying — but important — type of discharge.
What does it mean when you have a lot of clear watery discharge?
First, we should point out that when talking about vaginal discharge, there are a lot of variables to consider — including when it comes to watery discharges that make it feel like you peed yourself. Discharge that might be normal for one person could prompt someone else to bring it up with their doctor. This goes for the consistency and color of the discharge and when you tend to have it. Now that we've cleared that up, time for us to, ahem, discharge more information.
There can be a few different reasons why you have a lot of clear, watery discharge:
Having a Normal, Healthy Vagina
Healthy vaginal discharge has a mild odor, is either clear or white-ish, and can be produced in the uterus, cervix, or vagina itself, to help keep the vagina clean and infection-free. Because the clear, watery discharge is acidic, it flushes out harmful bacteria and dead cells.
Most people with vaginas have about 1 to 4 milliliters (around 1/2 teaspoon) of discharge every day during their reproductive years — and yes, it can be watery and make it feel like you peed yourself. In fact, according to an article published in the British Journal of Medicine, at some point in their lives, most people with vaginas will have discharge that they'll think is abnormal but is actually perfectly normal and healthy.
During earlier stages of pregnancy, some people produce even more clear, watery discharge, which is also not cause for concern. But if a significant, sudden rush of fluid comes out of your vagina during the later stages of pregnancy, it could be your water breaking (even if you're not fully to term). Either way, you'd need medical attention right away.
Pregnant or not, while producing clear, watery discharge is usually normal, it's essential to see your doctor if you experience any of the signs that your discharge may not be healthy and could signal infection, per the Cleveland Clinic:
- Your vaginal discharge changes color, becomes heavier, or smells different.
- You notice itching, burning, swelling, or soreness around the vagina.
- You develop pelvic pain.
The Stage of Your Cycle
At various stages of your cycle, you may notice an influx of watery discharge. In the middle of your cycle, when your ovaries release an egg, your body will typically produce more discharge to help sperm reach the egg. Ironically, that discharge is often compared to egg whites — clear, white, stretchy, and thin.
You may also notice an uptick in watery discharge before your period as your body prepares for your menstrual cycle.
Sometimes, if the clear, watery discharge produced when you're sexually aroused exits your vagina all at once, it can feel like you peed yourself. And while most people know their turn-ons, sometimes your brain will surprise you and have a strong reaction of sexual attraction prompted by someone or something new.
During menopause, clear, watery discharge that feels like you peed yourself can signify vaginal atrophy: a condition that causes the vaginal walls to gradually thin.
Other Miscellaneous Lifestyle Causes
Again, every single body is different, meaning there could be myriad reasons yours is producing enough watery discharge to make you feel like you peed yourself. In addition to those mentioned above, birth control, some medications, physical activity, and even food can affect the amount and type of discharge you experience.
Why does it feel like I'm peeing when it's just discharge?
If you're experiencing the sensation of peeing — a release of your bladder with urine passing through your urethra — and then realize that it's actually vaginal discharge, it's definitely time to see your doctor. There's a good chance it has something to do with your pelvic floor: a group of muscles in the base of your pelvis that supports the organs in that part of the body, including the bladder, vagina, uterus, and rectum. Because a weak or damaged pelvic floor has consequences for both the vagina and the bladder, it could be the reason you feel like you're peeing when it's just discharge.
When should I see my doctor?
Watery discharge is usually normal and has no cause for concern, but you should make an appointment with your gynecologist if you feel a burning sensation when urinating. You should also contact your doctor if you experience frequent itchiness and redness in your genital area. Pay attention to any swelling or blisters around your vulva or vagina as well.
You should definitely book an appointment with your gynecologist if your discharge is green or yellowish. Thick or cheesy like vaginal discharge or bleeding and spotting that occurs when you’re not on your period is also cause for concern. But if you are feeling any discomfort, use a cold compress on your vulva in the meantime.
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