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In spite of preparing for an easy pregnancy, most ladies find many unexpected things happening during the course of their pregnancy. Although one of the most memorable journeys of a woman's lifetime, pregnancy can bring about plenty of unusual occurrences that you might be quite unaware about.
Most women just attribute shiny hair, baby bump, mood swings and weight gain to the changes that happen in your body during pregnancy but there are many more changes beyond these. There are changes happening in other parts of your body too, one of the areas being your vagina.
It could be hard to notice any kind of vaginal changes especially during the early stages of pregnancy. In fact, there are no visible changes at least during the first trimester. However, things begin to change as you approach the second and the third trimester.
The hormonal changes happening in your body during pregnancy cause changes in the private areas of your body as well. But one should know that changes in the appearance of the vagina are quite common during pregnancy. About ten per cent of pregnant women face the appearance of varicose veins (the changes in the hormone levels is to be blamed for this). After about six weeks of delivery, these varicose veins would disappear; hence these are nothing to worry about.
The following list compiles some of the vaginal changes that occur during pregnancy:
1. Appearance Of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins can occur in the vagina during pregnancy. This happens due to the increase in blood flow in the genital region. Varicose veins are characterized by swollen, enlarged and twisting veins. They tend to appear bluish or dark purple in colour.
Varicose veins in the vagina occur during pregnancy as the walls of the veins face tremendous pressure when ample amount of blood flows through them. Otherwise referred to as vulvar varicosities, these disappear in a couple of week's time post childbirth. Doctors prescribe the use of specialized pregnancy undergarments that possess compression features in order to reduce the discomfort of varicose veins in the vaginal region.
It is also recommended that the pregnancy lady avoids sitting or standing for long durations at a stretch. One should increase the water intake and prefer keeping the legs and hips elevated whenever possible. The ideal practice is to have comforting pillows support your back, hips and legs while sleeping.
2. Odour Changes
Blood flow to the parts that are involved in labour, such as the vagina, increase during pregnancy. This also includes excess blood flow to the uterus. The increase in the blood supply causes an alternation in the pH level balance of the chemicals presents around in the vaginal area. This causes a change in odour around your genital region.
Not just the smell, it is also believed that the taste of the vagina changes too. This is again attributed to the increase in the blood flow. The taste of the vaginal area is considered more salty and metallic during pregnancy.
3. Vagina Turns Blue Or Purple
Increased blood flow along with hormonal changes causes a change in the colour of the vagina. Pigmentation is quite common in an expecting mother. Pigmentation not just affects the visible skin outward but could affect the labia and vulva as well making it appear dark in the shades of blue or purple.
However, your vagina would return to its normal colour post delivery. It is believed that the changes in the colour of the labia, cervix and vagina could begin to occur as early as four weeks. This aspect is also considered as one of the first signs of pregnancy.
4. Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal discharge is common throughout pregnancy and is not just something that occurs close to labour time (as believed by many). Hormonal increase in the body of the expectant mother leads to changes in the labia. The vaginal walls get stimulated which in turn produce a discharge that appears milky. This discharge is technically referred to as leucorrhoea. This discharge is actually beneficial as it helps in the prevention of infections affecting your private parts.
The colour of the discharge is usually either greyish-white or yellowish-white. However, if the discharge smells foul or looks thick and appears a dark yellow or green colour, then it might indicate an infection and would require antibiotics to heal.
Late into the pregnancy (when you are almost reaching the end of the term), the appearance of a gooey mucus plug might indicate that labour is on its way. This indicates that your mucus plug that was protectively placed at the cervix has come off and you could begin your labour pain at any moment.
Increased blood flow could make your vagina appear swollen. Improper hygiene during pregnancy could also result in a yeast infection making your vagina swell. Not taking care of vaginal hygiene could lead to microbes breeding in that region causing inflammation of the vagina. Also, changes in the pH value of the vagina make it an appropriate breeding ground for infections to occur.
Hormonal changes alter the flora of the vagina resulting in bacterial infections that cause swelling. Using products such as those of douching can lead to allergic reactions in the vagina leading to inflamed surroundings. Itching and a burning sensation are usually the first signs of the presence of an infection. It requires medical attention immediately.
Topical ointments are usually prescribed as the first course of medical action to treat the infection. A few studies claim that oral medication might increase the chances of a miscarriage, especially during the early stages of pregnancy.
6. Vaginal Itching
Increase in vaginal discharge during pregnancy can leave the skin around the vulva inflamed and irritated and hence the itching. The common reason behind vaginal itching is the discharge. Nevertheless, severe itching might be the sign of a budding infection which could be a bacterial infection or yeast infection.
Spotting or mild vaginal bleeding is understood as a common occurrence and in most cases, there is no cause of worry unless the bleeding is too severe or accompanied by immense abdominal cramps. Vaginal bleeding or spotting can happen any time during pregnancy.
Sometimes it happens during conception or when the egg is fertilized, while in some cases, it happens when one has almost reached the end of the pregnancy term. Light bleeding during the first trimester should not be a cause of worry. At times, one might bleed after a sexual intercourse, the reason being the genital region turning extra sensitive during pregnancy.
8. Risk Of UTIs
Another common occurrence during pregnancy is that of urinary tract infections. As the uterus grows in size as you progress in your pregnancy term, the uterus increases the pressure that it applies against the bladder. This at times results in your bladder not emptying completely. This is the primary reason why urinary tract infections occur. Doctors advise leading forward a bit while urinating in order to completely drain the bladder. You must also urinate as frequently as required.
The vulva changes when one is pregnant. This is due to the increase in the blood flow in the genital region. The vulva becomes engorged when one is pregnant and hence also shows signs of increased sensitivity.
10. Ingrown Hair
There is an increase in the hormone levels during pregnancy. Oestrogen levels are quite high in a pregnant body. As there is more oestrogen in the bloodstream, it leads to faster growth of hair in the pubic region. Faster, unusual growth of hair results in clogged pores. This happens due to the occurrence of profuse sweating and in turn results in the appearance of ingrown hair.
Most of the vaginal changes that occur during pregnancy are not long lasting. Although they might seem a bit strange, they are understood to be completely normal. They vanish just a few days post delivery and are surely not a cause to be worried about. It is important that you stay relaxed during your pregnancy period and seek medical advice immediately in case you notice any form of discomfort.