Pregnancy is a delicate thing. After all, it’s tough work to grow life inside of you, even if you may not be aware of all the things that are going on with your body. Among the things that you might want to monitor during pregnancy is discharge. After all, discharge can tell you a whole world of things about your condition, from the hormones in your body to a dangerous infection.
You’ll want to keep note of the consistency, color and smell of the discharge to check for anything that could signal problems. In addition, the timing of the discharge also matters. Spotting during the first trimester, for instance, may be just fine. If it occurs later, however, your doctor may worry.
In this article, we’ve brought together everything you need to know about discharge during pregnancy, as well as a few tips to help you determine if it’s safe.
15 Hormonal Changes
Throughout pregnancy, levels of the hormones that help sustain the pregnancy, namely estrogen and progesterone, are consistently going up. Estrogen increases blood flow to the cervix and the vagina, which might cause an increase in discharge. Progesterone, on the other hand, may cause thickening of discharge.
During your menstrual cycle, these two hormones have specific functions. During the first half, when estrogen is dominant, the thin, increased amount of discharge lubricates the vagina and makes it easier for sperm to reach the egg cell. During the second half of your cycle, progesterone is dominant. The thick discharge helps keep more sperm from entering.
14 Safe: Leukorrheal
Because of these hormonal changes, most women experience leukorrheal. During this time, both estrogen and progesterone levels have gone out. You will therefore experience more vaginal discharge which is thick and can be almost milky white in color. It should have a mild, but not unpleasant, smell.
Some new moms may worry a bit about this increasing discharge but, really, it’s normal and nothing to worry about. During pregnancy, it can help protect your womb from bad bacteria that can cause infection and interrupt the delicate process going on in there right now.
13 May Be Safe: Spotting
During the first trimester, you might notice slight spotting. You might notice literal spots of blood on your underwear, or you might notice pinkish streaks in your discharge. The first spotting you might notice is implantation bleeding. That is, the mild bleeding that signals that the fertilized egg is burrowing into your uterus to get nutrients. You may also experience other episodes of spotting throughout this first trimester. Check with your doctor when this happens, but as long as a heartbeat has already been detected, you still have a high chance of continuing to carry the pregnancy.
If you experience spotting during your second or third trimester, however, or if it comes with symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, you might want to get yourself checked.
12 Unsafe: Like Cottage Cheese
If you experience vaginal discharge that clumps together like curds, you might have candidiasis or a yeast infection. This is especially if you also experience itching, redness or irritation around your vagina. You might also experience some pain upon urination.
Pregnant women are at increased risk for candidiasis because the increased estrogen levels and discharge may cause an imbalance in your normal vaginal flora. During this time, fungus might dominate, causing infection. While this isn’t as serious as other conditions and probably won’t affect your pregnancy, you’ll still want to get treatment as it can pass on to your baby during childbirth as oral thrush.
11 Unsafe: Greyish
Normal vaginal discharge is usually clear to milky white. If, however, it turns too opaque white or grey, you might want to get yourself checked for bacterial vaginosis. Like with candidiasis, bacterial vaginosis can be caused by an imbalance in the vagina’s normal flora. Again, this is pretty common during pregnancy due to the drastic changes in discharge.
If you think you have vaginosis, you might want to get yourself tested and treated as soon as possible. This is because it is associated with an increased risk for miscarriage or preterm labor. You can ask your health care provider to screen you for vaginosis if she hasn’t already.
10 May Be Unsafe: Yellow
A just slightly yellowish discharge could be considered normal. If, however, it is distinctively yellow and comes with other symptoms, you might want to get yourself checked. Yellow discharge, after all, could mean that pus is mixed in with the discharge. Pus is a combination of dead microorganisms and white blood cells that you would commonly find in areas with infection.
Yellow discharge may therefore be a sign of infection. It could be a sign of a yeast infection, especially if it’s curd-like. Or it could be a sign of a more serious infection such as gonorrhea, chlamydia or trichomoniasis.
9 Unsafe: Green
If your discharge is green or yellow-green, however, you might want to get medical care immediately. This is because green discharge is usually frothy in consistency and is most definitely caused by infection. Most commonly, it is caused by trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted infection caused by the protozoa Trichomonas vaginalis.
This condition will increase your risk for preterm birth or a baby with low birth weight. Your baby may also get infected by the parasite during childbirth. Make sure to tell your health care provider of your discharge, as testing for trichomoniasis is not mandatory during prenatal checkups unless discharge is present.
8 Safe: Odorless to Mild Odor
The normal smell of your vagina may vary. Some women have odorless discharge, while others may have a musky but not unpleasant smell. Because of the changes in your hormones, you may notice a stronger smell than usual. Sometimes this is because of the hormones changing the composition of your discharge slightly.
However, in some cases, it could also because your sense of smell is more sensitive than usual. Your nose may therefore pick up a few scents that you have not noticed before. If you’re worried, however, it doesn’t hurt to check with your doctor.
7 Unsafe: Foul-smelling
Despite the range of smells that your lady parts can take on, it’s usually not normal if the smell can be described as foul. This foul smell will usually come with other symptoms, such as a change in the consistency and color of your discharge. You might also experience redness, itching or inflammation around your lady parts as well.
A foul-smelling discharge is usually one among many sexually transmitted infections that could pose a risk to your pregnancy and therefore your baby. Some infections can increase your risk for premature labor. Some can also transfer to your baby during childbirth, causing problems. It’s best to see your doctor right away.
6 Unsafe: Fishy Smell
When we say that your vagina can take on a fishy smell, we don’t just mean that it’s suspicious. Your discharge may begin to smell literally like seafood when you have an infection. This is usually the case when you get bacterial vaginosis, which isn’t sexually transmitted. Still, you’ll want to get treatment for it as it comes with certain risks.
In some cases, however, the fishy smell may also be caused by trichomoniasis which, as we’ve talked about earlier, is riskier than bacterial vaginosis. This is especially if you experience other symptoms such as itching, swelling and pain upon urination.
5 Depends on the Time: Thin, Abundant and Clear
If you find that you’re leaking an abundant amount of thin and clear fluid, which may or may not be pinkish or blood-streaked, you just might be leaking amniotic fluid. We commonly associate water breaking with a sudden gush of water, but it can sometimes occur as this thin, consistent stream.
If you suspect that the discharge is amniotic fluid, you will want to see your doctor soon. If you’re still less than 36 weeks on, make sure to go to the hospital immediately as you may be having a premature rupture of membranes. If, however, you’re 36 weeks or more, give your doctor a call and prepare for the big day, which is sure to come very soon. If the amniotic fluid is green or dark in color, you’ll need to get to the hospital immediately.
4 Depends on the Time: The Mucus Plug
Like amniotic fluid, the mucus plug is usually released when your membranes begin to rupture. It’s what keeps your cervix closed throughout your pregnancy, and it’s something you might notice coming out of your lady parts late into your pregnancy.
It usually looks gelatinous, kind of like a thick egg white. They’re usually clear or translucent white, and may have streaks of blood in them. Sometimes, however, your body will expel it bit by bit, so you might not notice it coming out.
3 Unsafe: Blood
Spotting, or just a few drops of blood, is one thing. Outright bleeding, however, is quite another story. Early in the pregnancy, this could be a sign of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. Late in the pregnancy, it could be a sign of other just as serious problems such as placenta previa, placental abruption and preterm labor.
Of course, it could also be cause by other things such as rough sex. However, it’s still advisable to call the doctor when you experience bleeding, just so you know what the problem is, exactly, and get immediate treatment.
2 What to Do: Normal Discharge
With normal pregnancy discharge, pretty much the best you can do is just keep things clean down there. This may be tricky if you’re experiencing more discharge than usual. Make sure your underwear is breathable, preferably made of cotton. Also make sure that it’s always clean and dry. When you wash, use just plain old water or, if you like, a very mild cleanser.
When you clean up, make sure you wipe from front to back and not from back to front. This is because you could be introducing microorganisms from the anal area to the vagina or the urinary tract, which could result in infection.
1 What to Do: Abnormal Discharge
You should, of course, get any abnormal discharge checked right away. The earlier you get it checked, the better your chances of averting any risks. You will have to undergo diagnostic examinations to determine the cause of the discharge. Once diagnosed, your doctor may prescribe medication to treat it. It’s important that your doctor knows you’re pregnant so that she can give you medicines that are safe for your baby as well.
Make sure to complete the full course of treatment. If, for instance, your doctor tells you to take the medication for seven days, don’t quit halfway through just because you feel better. Stopping early could result in the rise of germs that are resistant to the medication, meaning you might require a stronger kind.