White Discharge After Or While Having Sex: Why Does It Happen?

White discharge refers to a white, sometimes cloudy fluid that might come out from someone’s genitals. It can show on both men and women as well as during or after engaging in sexual activity.[1]

Luckily, white discharge is often a natural part of sexual intercourse, and it’s actually helpful when this is the case. Cervical mucus is an example: it lubricates the vagina and keeps it clean.

The penis also has a similar fluid, which goes through the same passage as urine. This fluid neutralizes any acidity for sperm to survive. Both penile and vaginal fluids of this nature are usually clear, but they can also be white.

Other instances of white discharge can originate from different sources, and some infections manifest through this symptom.

White discharge during sex (women)

Here is a look at some of the possible reasons.

  • Arousal

Sexual arousal commonly causes a white discharge. When arousal is the reason behind it, this discharge can be either clear or white, and its purpose is to protect the vagina while keeping it lubricated.

When sexually aroused, it’s a lot easier to notice any vaginal discharge. It increases and thickens with excitement, and it’s completely normal as long as the pain doesn’t occur during penetration.[2]

  • Menstrual changes

The menstrual cycle changes a lot in a woman’s body, and this includes vaginal discharge. These fluids thicken during both the start and end of a woman’s period, and it’s usually white.[3]

On the other hand, vaginal discharge can appear clear during ovulation. It’s also less thick, and this happens so that sperm can go through it without issues.

Again, both types of discharge increase during sexual intercourse.

White discharge after sex (women)

  • BV

Bacterial vaginosis refers to vaginal bacteria overgrowing outside its normal levels. It’s a consequence of pH imbalances, which are caused by sex or cleaning, especially douching.[4]

This condition is more common in sexually active women, but it’s still possible without sexual activity.

BV discharge is often grayish. It can also be accompanied by symptoms like strong odors, itch, and burning sensations when urinating. These additional signs don’t always show up.

Antibiotics treat this condition, and it can clear up on its own. It’s always advisable to visit your doctor since BV can increase the chance of catching STIs and pregnancy complications.

  • Yeast

Yeast infections are similar to BV, but they occur when candida (vaginal fungus) grows over its normal levels. Also, like BV, vaginal candidiasis can spread via sex, but it’s not necessary for developing the condition.

In this case, vaginal discharge comes out white and thick, with a similar look to cottage cheese. It is usually odorless. Potential symptoms include pain during penetration and urination, burning, and redness around the affected area.[5]

Yeast infections can be treated with antifungal medication, both over-the-counter and prescription.

  • STI

Sexually transmitted infections can manifest through vaginal discharge after having sex. They’re spread via unprotected sex, which includes oral, vaginal, and anal sex.

Chlamydia is a common cause of abnormal vaginal discharge. Discharge can be between yellow and white, which could be accompanied by bleeding outside your period and pain when urinating. Symptoms don’t always appear.

Trichomoniasis causes vaginal discharge that varies in appearance: clear, white, yellow, or green. You may also experience burning, itching, and discomfort when urinating.[6]

Finally, gonorrhea sometimes causes abnormal vaginal discharge. It’s usually more than usual and white, and bleeding outside periods as well as pain when urinating can show up as well.

White discharge during or after sex (men)

  • Arousal

When sexually aroused, penile discharge can be either clear or white. It’s also known as pre-ejaculate, and it’s not the same as actual ejaculate. The latter is white, and it contains both semen and sperm.[7]

The only normal penile discharge is caused by sexual arousal.

  • UTI

Urinary tract infections can occur in different sections of the tract, usually appearing in the urethra: the connection between the penis and bladder. The most common cause for urethral infections is bacteria from the anus reaching the canal.

A common consequence of UTIs in the urethra is inflammation, also known as urethritis. A symptom of this condition is penile discharge. Other symptoms include burning while urinating, frequently urinating small and cloudy amounts of urine, bloody urine, and a strong smell.[8]

Prescription antibiotics are necessary to treat a UTI.

  • Yeast

Candida is also the reason behind penile yeast infections, and it’s often caused by having sex with someone with a vaginal infection as well.

It manifests through white penile discharge. Other symptoms include balanitis (inflammation of the glans), white patches, rashes, burning, and itching. Uncircumcised, overweight, and immune-impaired men have a higher chance of suffering balanitis.

Antifungal medicine is required to treat these infections.

  • STI

Just like with vaginal discharge, penile discharge can also be caused by an STI. It spreads in the same way as with women, and both the specific conditions and symptoms are the same in women and men.[9]

Treatment for STIs in men is also the same treatment already mentioned for women.

The average amount of discharge

Not everyone produces the same discharge during or after sex. You should take note of the regular amounts of discharge outside sexual activity, which should be reduced for women and none for men.

Women usually have around a teaspoon of vaginal discharge at all times: either clear or white. The same amount is about the standard for ejaculation in men, but again, men should only experience discharge when aroused.[10]

While higher levels of discharge should be expected while during sexual activity, different factors dictate these amounts. Menstrual and hormonal changes, arousal, hormone treatment, and health conditions play a role in how much discharge is produced normally during sex.

When an infection is messing with these signs, other symptoms tend to show up: more prominently, pain, and discomfort.

When should you go to the doctor?

If your discharge either smells or looks different than it usually does, it’s a strong prompt to go to the doctor. Yellow, gray, or green discharge should cause concern.[11]

As mentioned, any pain or discomfort should also prompt anyone to pause their sexual activity and visit a doctor. Pain can appear during sexual activity or urinating, and it can be felt on the abdominal or pelvic area – as well as the urethra on men. Any rash, itching, or burning sensation should also be an alert.


If your discharge is either clear or white, and it doesn’t have any abnormal symptoms like discomfort or strong smell, then it shouldn’t be considered abnormal.[12]

As stated, vaginal and penile discharge is common during and after having sex, and they actually play important roles, even to make the experience more comfortable and pleasurable.

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2007156/

[2] O’Dowd TC, Parker S, Kelly A. Women’s experiences of general practitioners’ management of their vaginal symptoms. Br J Gen Pract 1996;46:415-8. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24119895/

[4] Glasier A, Metin Gulmezoglu A, Schmid GP, Garcia Moreno C, Van Look PFA. Sexual and reproductive health: a matter of life and death. Lancet 2006;368:1595-607. [PubMed]

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2099568/

[6] Wilson J. Managing recurrent bacterial vaginosis. Sex Transm Infect 2004;80:8-11. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5677275/

[8] Thinkhamrop J, Lumbiganon P, Thongkrajai P, Chongsomchai C, Pakarasang M. Vaginal fluid pH as a screening test for vaginitis. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 1999;66:143-8. [PubMed]

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5052075/

[10] Ison CA, Taylor-Robinson D. Bacterial vaginosis. Int J STD AIDS 1997;8: 1-42 [Google Scholar]

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK281/

[12] Rodgers CA, Beardall AJ. Recurrent vulvo-vaginal candidiasis: why does it occur? Continuing medical education. Int J STD AIDS 1999;10: 435-41 [PubMed]