Vaginal discharge with no odor is normal and healthy. It helps keep the vagina free of infection, prevents trauma during sexual intercourse, and nourishes sperm on the way to the fallopian tubes. Normal vaginal discharge can vary in color and consistency, but should be clear, white, or tinged yellow.
Changes in vaginal secretions occur throughout the menstrual cycle. These come from both the cervix and the vaginal walls. Vaginal discharge with no odor is also a result of sexual arousal. Many women also experience increased discharge during pregnancy.
After the menstrual period has ended, thick white vaginal discharge is normal. It is also normal not to notice any discharge. Vaginal discharge is also present after ovulation, before the next menstrual period begins. Its function is to rid the body of infectious material.
Around the time of ovulation, in the middle of the menstrual cycle, most women experience abundant clear, stretchy vaginal discharge that has no odor. The purpose of this discharge is to nourish and protect sperm, so it can reach the egg released during ovulation. Normally the vagina is acidic, which is hostile to fragile sperm. The vaginal discharge produced by the cervix during ovulation neutralizes the acidity. It also provides nourishment, and is similar in composition to semen. More odorless discharge is produced by the vagina during sexual arousal. This discharge is thin and watery and protects against injury during intercourse.
During pregnancy, more odorless vaginal discharge may be experienced. This increase is caused by increased estrogen and blood flow to the vagina. As labor approaches, thick vaginal discharge with no odor is expelled. This is a mucus plug that formed in the cervix to keep infections from entering the uterus.
If odorless discharge is abundant, a panty liner can be worn to ease the feeling of wetness. Douches should never be used, since they flush away the secretions that inhibit infections. A tampon should not be used to absorb discharge, because there is a risk of toxic shock syndrome, a serious infection caused by staph bacteria.
Vaginal discharge that has a foul odor indicates a problem. Yellow, green, or brown discharge may also be a problem, and any change in discharge should be reported to a health care professional.
Most females who have experienced puberty have vaginal discharge. After menopause, the drop in estrogen may cause this discharge to cease. This can cause itching and burning, painful intercourse, and an increased risk of infection. Women who experience a cessation of vaginal discharge should consult their health care provider.