Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy: What’s Normal & What’s Not?

Updated on March 31st, 2020
vaginal discharge during pregnancy

When a woman is pregnant, there are numerous changes in the body. One of the first changes experienced is vaginal discharge. It is essential to consider what is normal during pregnancy and inform health care practitioners about changes that may be occurring.

Normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy is thin, milky-white, mild-smelling, and is called leukorrhea. However, in case your vaginal discharge is colored, see the doctor immediately. Don’t assume it is a vaginal infection and treat it yourself.

Tampons and douche can introduce germs into the vagina and interrupts the balance of healthy vaginal bacteria, leading to diseases. Always notify your doctor about charges, especially if the vaginal discharge is greenish-yellow, strong in smell or accompanies redness/itching.

A common vaginal infection during pregnancy is candidiasis, also called yeast infection. Another cause of the abnormal discharge is an STD. Never try to diagnose or treat yourself. Even spotting or bleeding that accompanies cramping or pain, lasts 24 hours or more and is enough to fill a tampon or pad is a danger signal.

Why Examine Vaginal Discharge?

Vaginal discharge can signal a lot of things about your health during pregnancy. Some changes in vaginal discharge color are regular. Others indicate an infection or a problem. It is common to have discharges at numerous stages of menstruation and during pregnancy.

Healthy or white-colored vaginal discharge has only a mild odor. However, the discharge volume increases across pregnancy, and you run the risk of uterine and vaginal infections if you are not alert.

STDs like herpes can even cause blindness in the baby or vision problems. Discharge is most substantial at the pregnancy’s final weeks, where pink mucus may be secreted. The mucus is sticky and much like jelly in its consistency. It indicates the body is preparing for labor.

Colors of Discharge: When to Check with a Doctor?

There are various colors of vaginal discharge, which may indicate different health issues, including the following:

1. Clear, Milky White Discharge

White Discharge
Image: ShutterStock

This color suggests leukorrhea, a normal and healthy release that has a mild odor. This discharge is perfectly normal during pregnancy. But changes in color or consistency require medical care.

A pregnant woman who has not reached her full term should always check with the doctor if the increase in clear discharge is significant and continuous. Also, if the release is jelly-like and thick in consistency, consult your doctor, as such changes may indicate premature labor.

[Read: Home Remedies for Itchy Vagina]

2. White and Lump-Filled

Vaginal discharge that is lumpy and off-white or white, like cottage cheese, indicates yeast infections. Yeast infections are common. The body is particularly susceptible to these during pregnancy. Other symptoms of yeast infection(1) include burning, itching, painful urination, or sexual intercourse.

3. Greenish-Yellow

Green or yellowish-green vaginal discharge is not normal. It suggests an STD/STI such as trichomoniasis or chlamydia. Other symptoms include genital redness or irritation. STIs often do not cause any symptoms. According to the CDC, STIs trigger complications during pregnancy that can impact fetal development, besides your health.

These complications are sometimes not present until years post the birth. The difficulties affect the nervous system and the child’s development, causing infertility in women. People sometimes think yellow discharge means urine leaks. But colors of vaginal discharge can indicate health issues, too.

4. Gray

Grayish vaginal discharge indicates vaginal infection known as BV or bacterial vaginosis. It also has a fishy smell that strengthens following intercourse. This disease is a vaginal bacterial imbalance, caused by douching and sex partners in plenty. BV is a common vaginal infection during childbearing years.

[Read: Treat BV Without Antibiotics]

5. Brown

Brown discharge is old blood leaving the body, an early symptom of pregnancy. Pregnant women experiencing dark-brown discharge, however, should contact the doctor.

6. Pink

Pink discharge can be normal or abnormal. It all depends on whether the pink discharge occurs during early pregnancy or final weeks as the body adjusts to labor. It happens before miscarriage or during ectopic pregnancies, too. Other causes of light spotting include vaginal infection and sexual intercourse.

7. Red

Red-colored vaginal discharge requires immediate medical care during pregnancy, more so if the bleeding is heavy, contains clots or takes place alongside abdominal pain or cramping. The symptoms also indicate ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. Close to 10-15 percent of pregnancies close in miscarriage, also referred to as pregnancy loss.

Other red discharge causes are less severe, especially in the first trimester when it results from infection or implantation. Research shows that anywhere from 7-24 percent of women bleed during early pregnancy. Bleeding later in pregnancy indicates serious issues or preterm labor(2), which requires medical attention.

[Read: Home Remedies for Dry Vagina]

Seriousness of Conditions

Image: ShutterStock

An increase in mild smelling discharge at the time of pregnancy is healthy. Unusual odors and colors indicate infection. A doctor can prescribe medicines or antibiotics to treat bodily infections. Women can maintain vaginal health during pregnancy by understanding the seriousness of the condition if there is colored discharge.

Ideally, women should avoid douching or using tampons during pregnancy. They should also choose unscented toilet paper and soaps or personal care products. Panty liners should be worn to absorb the excessive discharge.

Other precautions women should take is drying the genitals thoroughly after swimming or showering and wearing underwear from cotton fabric. Pregnancy means wearing comfortable clothes as tight jeans raise the risk of bacterial infections. A diet rich in sugar can encourage yeast infections. Try probiotic foods and supplements for the best results.

Solutions You Should Try

It is vital to consider unusual discharges with a doctor. Symptoms like these can suggest infections that require treatment or pregnancy issues. Without treatment, infections trigger complications. An increase in vaginal discharge at the time of pregnancy is average, but unusual discharge with strong odors and colors like gray, yellow, or green are indicative of health issues.

Women should seek prompt medical care while experiencing heavy spotting or bleeding alongside pain or cramps. Let your healthcare practitioner know about abnormal discharge. Abnormal discharge signals infection. Yeast infections can require suppositories or vaginal creams.

[Also Read: Garlic for Yeast Infection]

Wear loose clothing your body breathes in, cotton underwear and add probiotics to your diet. Always dry your genital area post, showing, swimming, exercising, or bathing. Pregnant women should be screened for STD at the first prenatal appointment.

Abnormal discharges can signal pregnancy complications such as placental abruption or placenta previa. The best solution is always to call your doctor and take all the precautions because prevention beats cure.

[Also Read: Cure Circumvallate Placenta Naturally]

Thus, vaginal discharge can be normal or abnormal depending on the color, frequency of secretion, and thickness or consistency. Vaginal discharge can signal infections, diseases or pregnancy complications as well. Therefore, it is critical to consult your doctor and examine yourself carefully during this period, to prevent your moment of joy as you give birth from turning into a trial to be suffered.

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