Pregnancy can be both confusing and exciting at times, and it’s not always easy to tell which changes are normal and which are cause for concern. One of the changes that often confuse pregnant women is vaginal discharge. Vaginal discharge during pregnancy can vary in either consistency or thickness, frequency, and amount during pregnancy.
Vaginal discharge during pregnancy
One of the early signs of pregnancy is an increase in vaginal discharge, and this continues throughout the pregnancy. Normal discharge, known as leukorrhea, will appear watery, clear, or milky white, and have a light odor.
Changes in vaginal discharge can start early in pregnancy even from one to two weeks after conception, even before you miss your period. As your pregnancy progresses, this vaginal discharge usually becomes more noticeable, and is heaviest towards the end of your pregnancy. Mother should wear panty liners unscented if needed.
In the last weeks of pregnancy, you may also notice that your vaginal discharge contains streaks of thick mucus with streaks of blood. This is an early sign of labor and nothing to worry about.
What causes vaginal discharge during pregnancy?
Reported from What to Expect, During pregnancy, increased levels of estrogen cause increased blood flow to the pelvic area. More blood flow stimulates the body’s mucous membranes, causing increased vaginal discharge in early pregnancy and beyond.
And this vaginal discharge has an important purpose: It removes dead cells from the vagina, protects the birth canal from infection and maintains a healthy balance of bacteria in the vagina.
Illustration of the causes of vaginal discharge during pregnancy/ Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Nattakorn Maneerat
What causes changes in vaginal discharge?
Vaginal discharge ebbs and flows throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle due to fluctuations in hormone levels. Once you are pregnant, hormones continue to play a role in changing your vaginal discharge.
Changes to the cervix during pregnancy also affect vaginal discharge. When the cervix and vaginal walls soften, the body produces excess fluid to help prevent infection.
Your baby’s head may also press on your cervix as you approach the end of your pregnancy, which often causes increased vaginal discharge.
“Some women experience an increase in vaginal discharge during pregnancy, and some don’t experience an increase at all,” says Karen Nordahl, MD. Parents.
Vaginal discharge during pregnancy is usually normal if it is thick, sticky, and looks a lot like mucus. The vagina produces fluid to keep the cervix moist, closed, and healthy.
Tips for dealing with vaginal discharge during pregnancy
- Shower regularly and wear underwear with a cotton lining that absorbs sweat. Keeping it clean and dry helps maintain a balance of bacteria and prevents vaginal infections.
- Wear pads or panty liners if necessary. This absorbs excess fluid and can help you feel more comfortable. Don’t use tampons, which can introduce germs into your vagina.
- No need to use douches. Douching has not been shown to be safe in pregnancy and should be avoided completely. It can also upset the natural balance of microorganisms in your vagina and cause bacterial vaginosis.
- Do not use vaginal wet wipes. Mother’s vagina can clean itself. Wipes can change the pH in your genital tract, increasing your risk of infection. If you have to, choose a tissue that is pH-safe and free of alcohol and chemicals.
When to call the doctor about vaginal discharge during pregnancy
You should contact your doctor if:
- Mother’s vaginal discharge is yellowish, greenish, mixed with blood or thick and like cheese
- Mother’s vagina has a foul or fishy smell
- The inside of your vagina and or vulva feels like burning or itching
- Feels burning when you pee
- Feels painful during sexual intercourse
You may have an infection (such as a pregnancy-induced yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis), possibly related to changes in the balance of yeast and bacteria in the vagina. Your doctor can prescribe medication, such as antifungal medication or antibiotics, to get the balance right there and clear up your symptoms.
Abnormal vaginal discharge can also be a sign of sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea or trichomoniasis, all of which require prompt diagnosis and treatment for you and your partner.
You should also contact your doctor if you notice excessive discharge, which may be a sign of leaking amniotic fluid.
But even though vaginal discharge can contaminate your underwear, rest assured that vaginal discharge is usually normal and has a noble duty to protect you and your baby. And if vaginal discharge seems bothersome or worrying, then don’t hesitate to go to the doctor immediately so you can get the best treatment right away, Mother.