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Vaginal Discharge During Early Pregnancy
June 10, 2022

Vaginal Discharge During Early Pregnancy

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Vaginal Discharge During Early Pregnancy

You knew you were going to get a lot of weird pregnancy symptoms, but you may not have had an idea about what was going to appear on your undies. Early pregnancy discharge can be kind of surprising, if we’re being honest, but we’re here to help. Read on for this handy guide.

What Does Early Pregnancy Discharge Look Like?

Early pregnancy discharge is thin, milky white and has a mild smell. After you become pregnant, you might notice an increase in your usual discharge (called leukorrhea), thanks to more estrogen in your system and an increase in blood flow. And, really, you can have discharge any time during pregnancy. “It can continue throughout the pregnancy,” says Washington, DC-based ob-gyn Dr. Cordelia Nwankwo, “and can increase toward the end.” So if discharge is bothering you now, just wait until you reach month eight or nine!

Is Discharge an Early Sign of Pregnancy?

If you’re not pregnant yet, and you’re wondering whether or not your discharge could be an early sign of pregnancy, the answer is: maybe. Discharge isn’t one of the most common early signs of pregnancy, but it can be a sign. Since pregnancy-related discharge is caused by the thickening of the cells in the vagina from the moment of conception, seeing an increase could be a signal you’ve conceived.

Also, take note that spotting—or early pregnancy discharge that’s a little brown or pink and lasts only a day or so—could also be an early sign of pregnancy. Your cervix is sensitive while you’re pregnant, so you may notice light spotting after intercourse, vigorous activity or even straining with bowel movements, says Nwankwo.

What Kind Of Discharge Is Normal In Early Pregnancy?

Normal early pregnancy discharge is usually clear or white, says Nwankwo.

Different Types of Discharge During Early Pregnancy

The look of vaginal discharge may change at different points during pregnancy, and different colors or consistencies could indicate something else going on, such as irritation or infection. Below is a quick reference for what different colors and consistencies might mean, as well as guidance on when to see a doctor.

Different Colors of Discharge and What They Mean

  • Clear or white: Normal early pregnancy discharge colors.
  • Pink, red or brown: Sometimes normal discharge colors; could be mild cervical irritation from exercise or sex. If it lasts longer than a day or two, it’s a good idea to let your doctor know.
  • Yellow or green: Abnormal discharge colors, and could be a sign of infection. If you see yellow or green vaginal discharge, contact your doctor.

Different Types of Discharge and What They Mean

  • Milky/opaque: Normal early pregnancy discharge consistency.
  • Watery: Usually normal for pregnancy discharge, but could be a sign of infection if it’s accompanied by cramping and/or discoloration and odor. If there’s more than usual or it comes out as a sudden gush, it could be a leak in the amniotic sac or preterm labor, especially if you have a high-risk pregnancy.
  • Thick/lumpy: If your vaginal discharge is lumpy and resembles cottage cheese, it could be a sign of a yeast infection.

When to Call Your Doctor

Look for anything out of ordinary with your early pregnancy discharge. Here’s what Nwankwo says to look out for:

  • Smelly: Early pregnancy discharge with a fishy smell could signal a vaginal infection called bacterial vaginosis.
  • Thick: As we noted in the previous section, if your early pregnancy discharge has a cottage cheese-like consistency, it could be caused by a yeast infection.
  • Colorful: Yellow or green early pregnancy discharge could be a sign of infection. Pink, red or brown early pregnancy discharge could be a sign of irritation around your cervix.
  • Itchy: If you’ve got an itch down there, or a burning sensation, and/or inflammation alongside your early pregnancy discharge, it might be a yeast infection or varicose veins in your vulva.
  • Bleeding: Anything more than spotting (i.e. if you’re filling a panty liner) could signal an infection or potentially something more serious like miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. Either way, if you experience heavier bleeding during your pregnancy, it warrants a call to your doctor.

See your healthcare provider if you notice any of the above discharge in early pregnancy and beyond (for instance, when it’s later in your pregnancy, discharge that all-of-a-sudden becomes really thin or really thick could be a sign of preterm labor). Don’t assume you have a certain condition (like a yeast infection) and try to treat it yourself without your healthcare provider’s go-ahead. It’s important to get a proper diagnosis of your abnormal early pregnancy discharge, so it can be treated correctly.

How to Deal with Discharge During Pregnancy

If you think your discharge is interesting now, just wait. You might be surprised how much your discharge can increase between early pregnancy and late pregnancy. But don’t use tampons or douche, both of which can increase your risk of infection. Wearing pantiliners or absorbent underwear like Thinx can help if you’re experiencing a lot of discharge. And they might come in handy with those random bladder leaks too.


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