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During pregnancy, your body undergoes various changes: your breasts swell up, the blue veins in your breasts, belly and legs become noticeable, you gain weight, your uterus enlarges and your skin has that pregnancy glow. You may also notice another change that is vaginal discharge. An increase in vaginal discharge is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy and it continues throughout pregnancy. Pregnancy causes changes in vaginal discharge, which can vary in colour, texture, volume and thickness.
In this article, we'll discuss what causes vaginal discharge during pregnancy and what the different colours of discharge mean.
Vaginal discharge is a normal biological occurrence in women and changes from time to time; it usually becomes heavier before your periods. When a woman becomes pregnant, it is quite normal to have an increase vaginal discharge. A healthy vaginal discharge, also called leukorrhea is thin, clear or milky white and shouldn't smell unpleasant.
A lot of women notice it during the early months of pregnancy. This increase in discharge is due to higher levels of oestrogen hormone and changes to the cervix during pregnancy. The volume of vaginal discharge increases throughout pregnancy to decrease the risk of vaginal and uterine infections.
Vaginal discharge becomes heavy during the final weeks of your pregnancy and it is usually pink in colour. The mucous is sticky and has a jelly-like consistency, which indicates that your body is preparing for labour.
However, many women may notice different colours of vaginal discharge during pregnancy, which may indicate certain health issues.
What Different Colours Of Vaginal Discharge Mean During Pregnancy?
- Clear or milky white
A healthy and normal discharge is thin, clear or milky white and has a mild odour. Women who are pregnant and not reached full-term pregnancy (about 40 weeks) should consult a doctor if they experience an increase in clear vaginal discharge that becomes thick and jelly-like. This change may indicate preterm labour.
- White and lumpy
If the discharge is lumpy and either white or off-white, it may indicate a yeast infection. Yeast infections are common during pregnancy because the hormonal changes can disrupt the pH balance of the vagina. The symptoms of yeast infections include vaginal itching, burning and painful urination or intercourse .
- Green or yellow
If your vaginal discharge is greenish-yellow, it means that you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as trichomoniasis or chlamydia. STIs can cause complications during pregnancy that can affect the mother and child, so it is advisable to consult your doctor if you notice green or yellow vaginal discharge .
If you notice a brown vaginal discharge, it indicates an early symptom of pregnancy. It occurs due to the old blood expelling out of the body and usually it is not a cause for concern. However, if you experience dark brown discharge, you should seek medical attention.
If you experience a gray vaginal discharge, it may indicate a vaginal infection called bacterial vaginosis (BV). It occurs as a result of the hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy. In pregnancy, BV increases the risk of miscarriage, preterm labour, preterm delivery, chorioamnionitis and postpartum complications like endometritis and wound infections .
Studies show that between 7 to 24 per cent of women bleed during early pregnancy. If you experience heavy bleeding that contains clots and also cramping and abdominal pain, you should seek medical attention immediately as this indicates miscarriage .
Pink vaginal discharge during pregnancy may or may not be normal. Pink discharge often occurs during the final weeks of pregnancy when the body is preparing for labour; however, it can also occur before a miscarriage .
How To Treat Abnormal Vaginal Discharge?
The treatment for abnormal vaginal discharge depends on the cause. Yeast infections can be treated with anti-fungal medications, bacterial vaginosis can be treated with antibiotic medications and STIs such as trichomoniasis is usually treated with antibiotics.
Here are some tips to maintain vaginal health during pregnancy:
- Keep your vagina clean and dry
- Avoid using tampons
- Wear light pads or panty liners to absorb the excess discharge
- Wear cotton underwear and change it at least 2 to 3 times a day
- Choose unscented soap and water when washing your vagina
- Avoid douching
- After a shower dry your vagina
- Do not use any vaginal wipes or washes
- Don't use vaginal deodorants during pregnancy
- Eat a healthy, nutritious diet
- Eat foods rich in probiotics
- Clean your vagina by wiping from front to back after you've had sex.
It is normal to experience clear or milky white vaginal discharge during pregnancy; however abnormal vaginal discharge such as white and lumpy, red, gray, green and yellow discharge indicates a serious health issue that needs immediate medical attention.