A clear discharge from your vagina usually means you’re ovulating. It may also be an early indicator of pregnancy or a bacterial infection.

Vaginal discharge is fluid that’s naturally released by cells in your vagina and cervix. It serves as one of your body’s defenses by moving dead skin cells and bacteria out of the vagina while also maintaining a healthy pH balance.

Changes in the consistency and color of your discharge can sometimes offer clues about your body’s processes. Read on for more info on what clear, stretchy discharge could mean for your body.

Ovulation refers to the point in the middle of your cycle when your body releases an egg for potential fertilization. As you approach this point in your cycle, cervical mucus production increases. This results in more abundant discharge that’s clear and stretchy.

This increased discharge helps to usher sperm up your cervix so they can fertilize the released egg.

Some people check for signs of clear, stretchy discharge to figure out when they’re ovulating and are most fertile.

To use discharge to track your ovulation, you’ll need to check your cervical mucus on a daily basis:

  • Sit on a toilet seat and use clean hands to wipe your vaginal opening with toilet paper. Do this before you urinate.
  • If you don’t see any discharge on the toilet paper, insert your fingers into your vagina and remove them, checking the mucus for color and consistency.
  • Examine the discharge’s color and texture.
  • Wash your hands and record your findings.

Learn more about tracking your cervical mucus and what to look for at different stages of you menstrual cycle.

Many people report experiencing changes in cervical mucus early in their pregnancy.

Usually, your discharge becomes drier and thinner after ovulation, when estrogen decreases. But if sperm successfully fertilize an egg, you might notice that your discharge remains thick, clear, and stretchy. It might also take on a whitish color.

This happens because hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, continue to rise after ovulation if an egg’s been fertilized. This thicker discharge can last for up to about eight weeks. At that point, the mucus starts to form a mucus plug, which protects the embryo and cervix.

Keep in mind that cervical mucus changes aren’t a very reliable way to tell if you’re pregnant, but they can be a useful indicator of when you might want to take a pregnancy test.

Many things besides ovulation and pregnancy can cause changes in your vaginal discharge. This is why you shouldn’t rely solely on tracking your cervical mucus to determine fertility.

Other things that can cause clear, stretchy discharge include:

  • exercising
  • sexual arousal
  • sexual activity
  • dietary changes
  • stress
  • recent surgery involving your cervix or nearby organs
  • starting a new medication, especially hormonal birth control

These are expected changes and aren’t usually cause for concern.

Clear, stretchy vaginal discharge usually isn’t anything to worry about, but there are a few exceptions.

For example, vaginitis, a bacterial infection of the vagina, can cause changes in pH that cause the cervix to produce extra mucus. Sometimes, the mucus remains clear. In other cases, it might turn yellow, gray, or green.

Yeast infections and sexually transmitted infections, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, or trichomoniasis, can all cause changes in cervical discharge.

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you have unusual clear, stretchy discharge that’s accompanied by:

  • burning sensation in your vagina
  • fever
  • vaginal itching
  • painful intercourse
  • redness around your vulva
  • soreness around your vulva or vagina