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Yep, Pregnancy Will Change Your Vaginal Discharge
Updated on
March 17, 2024

Yep, Pregnancy Will Change Your Vaginal Discharge

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Yep, Pregnancy Will Change Your Vaginal Discharge.
Yep, Pregnancy Will Change Your Vaginal Discharge

You knew you were going to get a lot of weird pregnancy symptoms, but you may not have known that any would appear on your undies. Vaginal discharge during pregnancy can be kind of surprising, if we’re being honest. Here’s everything you need to know about what’s going on down there, including all the changes you might see.

What does early pregnancy discharge look like?

During early pregnancy, vaginal discharge is thin, clear or milky white and has a mild smell.

After implantation, you might notice an increase in your usual discharge (called leukorrhea). It’s caused by having more estrogen in your system and increased blood flow, both of which happen pretty immediately after pregnancy starts to support baby’s rapid growth.

But it’s not just in early pregnancy—vaginal discharge can change in volume, color and texture at any time during pregnancy, says Dr. Cordelia Nwankwo, an obgyn based in Washington, D.C. And you’ll likely see the biggest increase in volume toward the end of your pregnancy, she says (not to mention the mucus plug!. So if discharge is bothering you now, just wait until you reach month eight or nine!

Is vaginal discharge an early sign of pregnancy?

If you haven’t taken a pregnancy test yet and you’re wondering if your discharge could be an early sign of pregnancy, the answer is: maybe.

Vaginal discharge isn’t one of the more 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.

Keep in mind also 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 implantation and 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, Nwankwo says.

Different types of vaginal discharge during pregnancy

The look of vaginal discharge may change at different points during pregnancy, and different colors, consistencies or textures could mean something else is going on, like irritation or an infection. Below is a quick reference for changes you might notice and what might be causing them, as well as guidance on when to see a doctor.

Different colors of vaginal discharge and what they mean

  • Clear or white: Normal colors for vaginal discharge during pregnancy.
  • Pink, red or brown: Sometimes normal discharge colors; could be harmless spotting caused by 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 vaginal infection. If you see yellow or green vaginal discharge, contact your doctor.

Different textures of vaginal discharge and what they mean

  • Milky/opaque: Normal consistency for early pregnancy discharge.
  • 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

No matter where you’re at in your pregnancy, look for anything out of ordinary with your vaginal discharge. Here’s what Nwankwo says to look out for:

  • Smelly: Vaginal discharge with a fishy smell could signal a bacterial infection called bacterial vaginosis.
  • Thick: As we noted in the previous section, if your discharge has a cottage cheese-like consistency, it could be caused by a yeast infection.
  • Colorful: Yellow or green discharge could be a sign of infection. Pink, red or brown discharge in early pregnancy could be a sign of irritation around your cervix.
  • Itchy: If you’ve got an itch down there, a burning sensation and/or inflammation, it might be a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis 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.

Talk with 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 suddenly 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 discharge so it can be treated correctly.

How to Deal with Discharge During Pregnancy

We get it, vaginal discharge can be uncomfortable, especially when you’re dealing with a whole host of other pregnancy symptoms at the same time. If you’re looking for relief, the best suggestion is to wear pantiliners or absorbent underwear (like Thinx)—and they might come in handy with those random bladder leaks too. Be sure not to use tampons or douches though, since they can increase your risk of infection while pregnant.

Sources:


Amylia Ryan

Associate Editor

Amylia Ryan is the Associate Editor at Babylist, specializing in the topics of health, wellness and lifestyle products. Combining a decade of experience in writing and editing with a deep passion for helping people, her number one goal in her work is to ensure new parents feel supported and understood. She herself is a parent to two young children, who are more than willing to help product test endless toys, books, clothes, toiletries and more.

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