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Pregnancy vaginal discharge

Women usually have vaginal discharge which is actually a result of vaginal self-cleaning (removing bacteria, dead cells and vaginal secretion). During lifetime women could experience different types of vaginal discharge depending on period of life and health conditions. For example, during pregnancy women experience dramatic hormonal changes which have specific influence at vaginal discharge volume, texture, odor and color. Normal healthy pregnancy vaginal discharge is thin, white, milky with mild smelling.

During pregnancy, female body undergoes several changes including breast enlargement, body shape changes, skin stretch marks, weight growth and changed vaginal discharge. Pregnancy vaginal discharge called “leukorrhea” – it is absolutely normal condition but sometimes it can be disturbing.

During pregnancy body produces more estrogen and increased blood is flowing to the area around the vagina – both factors have influence at increased vaginal discharge which contain secretion from vagina and cervix, dead cells and vaginal bacteria.

Normal pregnancy vaginal discharge is clear to milky white, thin to thick (could be mucus-like), odorless or mild-smelling. Volume of discharge during pregnancy can increase starting from early pregnancy until your baby is born – reaching maximum before labor.

Pregnancy vaginal discharge vs mucus plug

Pregnancy vaginal discharge

Pregnancy vaginal discharge

Pregnancy mucus plug is made up of secretions that fill cervical canal in early pregnancy – it is actually the protective barrier which protects pregnancy from upcoming bacteria, microbes and any dangerous elements. Mucus plug looks like raw egg white (similar to clear mucus from runny nose). At the end of pregnancy (closer to delivery), usually cervix begins to thin out and dilate (open up). Mucus plug can be expelled from dilated cervix – it could be a sign of starting labor.

Sometimes mucus plug can be mixed with pregnancy vaginal discharge and could look like increased vaginal discharge with thickened mucus, clear or pinkish or brown or with blood strings.

Pregnancy vaginal discharge vs amniotic fluid

One of negative symptoms during pregnancy can be so called “water break” (damage of amniotic membrane) when amniotic fluid comes out creating problems for baby. What are differences between vaginal discharge during pregnancy and amniotic fluid?

  1. When amniotic membrane breaks, amniotic fluid come out unexpectedly as warm leak or trickle in certain amount but pregnancy vaginal discharge is on-going vaginal self-cleaning in same or similar daily volumes;
  2. Normal pregnancy vaginal discharge appears sporadically in small amounts, but amniotic fluid leaks out continuously once membrane breaks;
  3. Normal pregnancy vaginal discharge is thin, white, milky with mild smelling but amniotic fluid is clear or slightly yellowish, watery, odorless or slightly sweet-smelling.

Pregnancy vaginal discharge – recommendations

  • Keep genital area clean and never underestimate the importance of daily hygiene private routine,
  • You can wear panty liners to absorb discharge if you need,
  • Avoid tampons,
  • Choose natural cotton underwear and change it minimum 1-2 times,
  • Avoid synthetic and tight underwear and pans,
  • In toilet, always wipe from front to back,
  • Avoids bubble bath, scented pads, scented toilet paper, feminine hygiene sprays, and scented or deodorant soaps,
  • Avoid vaginal douching.

Abnormal vaginal discharge during pregnancy

Any changes of vaginal discharge during pregnancy should be evaluated. Special attention should be paid to discharge volume, texture, smell (foul, fishy) and color (yellow, green, brown, red/bloody, gray). Sometimes vaginal discharge can be accompanied with vaginal itching which could indicate vaginal infections.

Most common infections during pregnancy are vaginal yeast infection, sexually transmitted diseases (Chlamydia, trichomoniasis, gonorrhea) and bacterial vaginosis. If you experience colored vaginal discharge (green, yellowish) with strong smell (foul, fishy) accompanied with vaginal itching or vaginal sore, you could have vaginal infection.

Typical symptoms of vaginal yeast infection:

  • Vaginal itching,
  • Thick white odorless vaginal discharge (so called “cottage cheese discharge”) or increased watery vaginal discharge,
  • Vaginal burning sensation,
  • Vaginal irritation and inflammation,
  • Vaginal sore or vaginal rash,
  • Burning during urination and sexual contacts.

Typical symptoms of bacterial vaginosis:

  • Grey, milky white or yellowish vaginal discharge,
  • Strong unpleasant “fishy” vaginal smell which becomes stronger after sex,
  • Vaginal burning sensation and burning during urination,
  • Sometimes vaginal itching or soreness.

Typical symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases:

Chlamydia vaginal discharge is yellow or yellowish (sometimes mucus-like or pus-like) with foul odor. Women could also suffer from frequent painful urination with burning sensation, pelvic pain, fever, pain during intercourse and some irregular bleeding.

Trichomoniasis usually starts with greenish yellow, frothy, foul smelling vaginal discharge. Strong vaginal odor is pretty typical for trichomoniasis. Vaginal discharge can be combined with irritation and soreness in the genital area. In some women, the discharge is slight.

Gonorrhea could start from frequent painful urination combined with burning sensation. Vaginal discharge change color to yellow or yellowish. Women also could suffer from vaginal burning and itching, vaginal irritation and swelling as well as abnormal irregular vaginal bleeding.


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