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I have Clear Discharge from Clitoris with Bad Smell. What does that mean?

Last Updated - Fri, Mar 16 2018

Similar Questions - What is vaginal discharge, white discharge from vagina, I have an itchy clitoris, how to treat discharge, do I have an STD

Detailed Question:

Hi jusdoc, Over the last three months, I have been noticing a clear discharge on my underwear. As the discharge is present on the part of my underwear directly under my clitoris, I think that the fluid may be formed in my clitoris. I am not experiencing any redness, but the area around my clitoris and vagina itches from time to time. The discharge, which is clear and watery, is not a lot but is present almost every day. I do not know if it is present during my periods. I am 26 years old and have never had this problem before, but around a year ago I had some vaginal discharge which was thick white and cheesy. After a consultation, I found out that I had a yeast infection which disappeared after I took the prescribed medication. I know the discharge is different but could this also be an infection? Even though it is clear, the discharge has a very unpleasant smell. During intercourse, I feel embarrassed because of the smell and get scared that my boyfriend will judge me, though he has never said anything about it. 

I don’t know if this is relevant, but I started having oral and vaginal sex with my boyfriend a few days before I noticed the discharge. Could the discharge be because of that? I was hoping that it would stop on its own, but it’s been quite a long time now, and I am very worried. I have heard that discharge can be caused by sexually transmitted diseases. Is it possible that I have an STD? Please help me. I hope that it’s nothing serious. Thanks a lot in advance.

Category: Gynaecology


Thank you for your query regarding the clear discharge that you have observed. I hope that I can help in resolving this issue as soon as possible. Firstly, I would like to tell you that it is not uncommon for women to face similar problems and the solutions are, more often than not, relatively simple. I understand why this might be worrisome, especially since you are sexually active. However, most of the medical issues which are associated with the clitoris are not serious and generally aren’t a cause for concern. Also, as these issues are natural and are faced by a majority of women, I assure you that there is no reason to be embarrassed. Understanding the possible causes of the discharge will give you a better idea about the root of the problem and what could be done to do away with it.

Is discharge from the clitoris a possibility? 
It is close to impossible for the clitoris to secrete any fluid as the organ does not have any glands. The sole purpose of the organ is to provide pleasure to a woman when she engages in intercourse. As it is located just a little above the urethra and the vaginal opening, discharge from the vagina is often mistaken for discharge from the clitoris. This is a possibility in your case. Assuming that you walk around during the day, the discharge from your vaginal opening could move up to your clitoris, which would explain its positioning on your underwear.

What could discharge from the clitoris be? 
There are a number of ways in which matter can accumulate under the hood of the clitoris. This matter is of the following types and can be mistaken for discharge:
  • Debris, dirt or dead skin: Matter such as debris, dirt and dead skin often accumulates under the clitoris hood. When the matter manifests, it may appear to be some discharge that was secreted by the clitoris. If this is the case, all you need to do to get rid of the matter is keep your clitoris as well as the area around it clean by washing it regularly 
  • Smegma: Smegma is a natural lubricating substance which is a combination of shredded skin cells, oil secretions from the skin, dead epithelial cells and sweat as well as other forms of moisture. It is present between skin folds such as between the lips of the vagina, the labia and also around the hood of the clitoris. The colour of smegma may vary, and it may also give out a foul odour. This, too, is not a serious issue as long as it is wiped away and does not accumulate. If the amount of smegma builds up, there is a possibility that the woman will experience pain as the hood of the clitoris can get stuck to its glans and shafts 
  • Yeast infection: Yeast infections lead to discharge which is whitish and often causes itchiness and redness around the clitoris as well as in parts of the vagina and the vulva. To treat this infection, anti-fungal medicine in the form of a cream or tablets should be prescribed by a gynaecologist.
What is vaginal discharge? 
Since the clitoris is located so close to the vagina, which part of the body the discharge is coming from is not easy to point out. As mentioned above, there is a much greater chance that the discharge is being secreted by your vagina. Vaginal discharge is considered to be absolutely normal and highly essential as it expels the dead cells and bacteria from the vagina, thereby keeping it clean and safeguarding it against infections. Whether you need to seek medical help regarding vaginal discharge depends on a number of factors including the consistency, colour and the amount of the fluid that is secreted. 

Normally, clear discharge which is sticky is a sign that you are fertile. However, as the discharge you are experiencing is present throughout the month, it is not likely that it is due to you being in the ovulation phase of your menstrual cycle. Clear and watery discharge can be secreted at any time during the menstrual cycle and often increases when the woman engages in physical activities such as exercise. 

The above chart from HealthyWomen (see image on top) will help you to identify the types of vaginal discharges and what they could mean.

What are the causes of bad smelling discharge? 
The discharge that you described has a foul odour, and the possible causes of this odour are quite a few, especially if the fluid is being secreted by your vagina. The causes include the following:
  • Bacterial vaginosis: The foul smell of vaginal discharge is often caused by bacterial vaginosis, which is a mild infection that occurs when the balance of good and bad bacteria in the vagina is disturbed. Although this problem may vanish on its own, it could lead to a more serious medical issue and, treatment is thus recommended 
  • Vaginal atrophy or urogenital atrophy: This occurs during as well as after menopause, when the walls of the vagina begin to dry, often leading to foul-smelling discharge 
  • Vulvovaginitis: This affects most women at some point in their life and results in infection of the vagina and vulva as well as discharge with an unpleasant smell. 
  • Cervical cancer: Foul smelling discharge which is pale, watery, pink, brown or bloody is among the symptoms of cervical cancer. This discharge is often continuous and the menstrual periods of the woman become longer and heavier
Can Sexually Transmitted Diseases lead to discharge? 
As you have recently started having intercourse with your boyfriend, it would be advisable to get yourself tested for sexually transmitted diseases, just to stay on the safer side. There are a number of STDs that can lead to discharge with a bad odour and an abnormal colour such as yellow, green, etc. The sexually transmitted diseases that can lead to changes in your vaginal discharge include:
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
What are the causes of an itchy clitoris? 
A common reason for itchiness of the clitoris is a condition known as thrust, which is the result of an infection in the vagina and the areas surrounding it and leads to the formation of whitish discharge. The use of sex toys which are not properly cleaned could be a cause of the infection. Another cause of discharge which could also lead to itching is the accumulation of smegma under the upper hood of the clitoris. 

Clitoral itching can also be caused by:
  • Bacteria from hands
  • Bacteria from faecal matter
  • Stress
  • Over-stimulation during sexual activities
  • Allergic reactions to innerwear
How can the discharge be treated? 
Although certain types of vaginal discharge are perfectly normal, others require treatment. If you are suffering from abnormal vaginal discharge, you can take the following steps:
  • Ensure that you keep your clitoris and vaginal area clean by washing it at least twice a day with warm water and a mild soap
  • Avoid wearing clothing that is overly tight
  • Use panty liners that will help absorb moisture
  • Wear cotton under garments to prevent allergies
  • After defecation, wipe from front to back to avoid introducing faecal matter into the vagina as this could lead to infection
  • Avoid douching as it has a negative effect on the balance of vaginal bacteria
I hope that I have managed to answer your queries. However, as there are a number of causes of discharge and each requires a different method of treatment, it is advisable that you consult a gynaecologist.


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