Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy | Types and Symptoms
By Ashley Parker, MD, Obstetrician and Gynecologist—Virtua Ob/Gyn - Voorhees
During pregnancy, you may notice changes in your vaginal discharge. Even before pregnancy, vaginal discharge can vary from day-to-day or week-to-week. This is because of hormonal changes that take place during the menstrual cycle.
When you’re pregnant, those hormonal changes are even more significant. This can lead to some normal variations in vaginal discharge. However, you shouldn’t ignore certain types of vaginal discharge, especially during pregnancy.
If you’re pregnant, here’s what you need to know about vaginal discharge color changes that may require treatment.
White or off-white
White or off-white, thin, mostly odorless discharge during pregnancy is called leukorrhea. Leukorrhea happens for several reasons, including:
The high estrogen levels women experience during pregnancy
The cervix creating more mucus to protect the pregnancy
An increased blood flow to the vaginal walls
Nearly every pregnant woman experiences this but it’s not dangerous or bad – just annoying. You can use a panty liner or pad if it’s bothersome. Avoid tampons and douching, as they can introduce harmful bacteria into the vagina. Washing with warm water is sufficient.
Clumpy and white or off-white
If you experience thick or clumpy discharge, it may be because yeast is present. About 1 in 4 women have vaginal yeast overgrowth during pregnancy.
Yeast or a yeast infection won’t hurt the baby, so there’s no need to hit the panic button. You’ll want to talk to your ob/gyn or midwife, however, if you experience burning or itching and need relief. Most prescription and over-the-counter remedies are safe during pregnancy, but it’s best to ask about what’s best for you.
Yellow or green
If you experience darker yellow or green discharge that has a strong, unpleasant odor that’s accompanied by burning or itching, call your doctor or midwife. These are signs of two common vaginal infections: bacterial vaginosis (the overgrowth of common bacteria that causes vaginal inflammation) or trichomoniasis (a sexually transmitted infection caused by the parasite trichomonas vaginalis).
These symptoms alsomay be a sign of other sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. These infections may increase the risk for premature rupture of the membranes and early delivery. They also can cause infection in your baby’s eyes or lungs if present during delivery. Therefore, it's important to seek treatment promptly from your provider. These infections are treated easily with prescription medications that are safe to take during pregnancy.
Brown or red
Generally, red or brown bloody discharge isn’t considered “normal” during pregnancy and is a reason to call your doctor or midwife. At the same time, many things can cause bloody discharge that aren’t related to a pregnancy complication. Before you panic, talk to your health care provider and describe the situation. He or she will help you determine the appropriate next steps.
Watery and clear or light yellow
If you experience a gush or continuous trickle of watery and clear or light yellow fluid during pregnancy, it may be either urine or amniotic fluid.
It’s common to experience incontinence (the involuntary loss of urine) during pregnancy, especially in later stages when your growing baby is pressing on your bladder. However, it can be challenging to know whether you’re leaking urine or amniotic fluid. When in doubt, call your ob/gyn.
If you’re ever unsure about a symptom, always call your provider instead of worrying that something is wrong.
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Updated January 14, 2022
What’s Normal and What’s Not
When you become pregnant, you of course expect your body to change—but you probably never considered how pregnancy would affect your vaginal discharge. Surprise!
Even immediately after conception, the consistency, color and odor of your pregnancy discharge is likely to change due to hormone fluctuation. And if you’re not up to speed on those changes, things can sometimes look strange or feel pretty wet down there. Right off the bat, you may find yourself with questions about your early pregnancy discharge—like, should my discharge look that color? Is this smell normal? And when should I be concerned?
Knowing what to expect is important, which is why we’ve talked to experts to get the lowdown on what’s normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy, what your vaginal discharge color might mean (and trust us, there’s a rainbow of possible discharge colors) and when you should call your doctor. Follow our guide to find out everything you need to know about pregnancy discharge.
In this article: What is leukorrhea? What is normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy? What your vaginal discharge color means during pregnancy Vaginal discharge color chart How to deal with pregnancy discharge When to call the doctor
What Is Leukorrhea?
Before we dive into the different types (and colors) of pregnancy discharge you may experience, let’s first address leukorrhea. Leukorrhea is the medical term for the normal discharge you can expect to see in the early stages of your pregnancy. You might see white-ish clear, mild-smelling vaginal discharge, which can be evident within the first weeks of conception, says Nicolle S. Underwood, MD, an obstetrician at Pacific Women’s Healthcare Associates in Irvine, California. In this phase of your pregnancy, your body is experiencing higher levels of estrogen that increase blood flow to your pelvis, which in turn triggers the mucous membranes to ramp up production, leading to more discharge than you may be used to. That white pregnancy discharge can take some women by surprise, rest assured, it’s totally normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy.
What is the purpose of leukorrhea?
While it may seem like a nuisance at times, leukorrhea actually serves several purposes during the course of your pregnancy. This early pregnancy discharge helps protect your birth canal from infection and helps maintain a healthy level of bacteria. Leukorrhea also helps flush out dead cells from the vagina.
What Is Normal Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy?
We’ve established that your discharge will likely change when you’re expecting—so what does pregnancy discharge look like? You will likely see what we just referred to as leukorrhea.
Also, don’t be alarmed; there also tends to be more discharge during pregnancy due to the extra hormones circulating, such as estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen can thin out your pregnancy discharge, while progesterone thickens it, explains Kimberly Langdon, MD, an obstetrician and medical advisor for digital health company Medzino. Plus, the glands of the endocervix (the opening to the uterus) produce more mucus during pregnancy (which, fun fact, results in the mucus plug).
On top of all that, as pregnancy progresses, your full uterus can get in the way of your bladder completely emptying, making it possible for small urine leaks as well, which can add to the feeling of wetness down there. You also may find that your pregnancy discharge smells different than usual, which is also due to—you guessed it—hormonal fluctuations. Is this normal? Yes!
Your discharge may get thicker and stickier during late pregnancy, and it’s not uncommon to see mucus (which may be clear or red-tinged) during the last few weeks of your pregnancy. This is your mucus plug—aka the clump of mucus that helps keep the opening of the cervix closed. You can lose parts or all of your mucus plug, typically after 37 weeks. It can be a sign that labor is on its way, but it’s by no means a guarantee. If you lose it before 37 weeks, give your doctor a call, as it can be a potential sign of preterm labor.
What Your Vaginal Discharge Color Means During Pregnancy
What if your pregnancy discharge color isn’t white or clear? It doesn’t mean anything is wrong. For example, you may also see some spotting in the week following conception. Called implantation bleeding, this is due to the fertilized egg attaching itself to the uterus. While slight spotting throughout pregnancy—think: a few specks of blood on your underwear or a streak when you wipe—isn’t atypical, it’s something an obstetrician would want to discuss and monitor, says Underwood, so let your doctor know if you see any blood.
Here’s a full rundown of the vaginal discharge colors that may make an appearance in your underwear during pregnancy:
Clear vaginal discharge
More commonly referred to as leukorrhea, this early pregnancy discharge is made of cervical and vaginal secretions and is normal. It can show up almost immediately after conception and may continue throughout the pregnancy.
Clear, stringy, mucusy vaginal discharge
During late pregnancy, this discharge is likely part of the mucus plug. This may come out all at once (think: a tablespoon of a jelly-like substance) or may come out in bits and pieces during the last weeks of pregnancy.
Cream-colored vaginal discharge
Leukorrhea can also have a whitish hue (like the color of skim milk). If the white vaginal discharge is clumpy and accompanied by itching or burning, however, you may have a yeast infection. Yeast infections are common during pregnancy due to hormonal shifts and a changing pH in the vagina. It’s a good idea to check in with your doctor before treating yourself; while your doctor may suggest an over-the-counter treatment, it’s important to rule out any other issues.
Tan vaginal discharge
Vaginal discharge color resembling the hue of creamy coffee could also signify a yeast infection. The discharge may also be clumpy and have an unusual odor, Underwood says.
Dark brown vaginal discharge
Dark brown discharge during pregnancy could be dried blood leaving your body, Underwood explains. A few streaks when you wipe may be normal—especially if the brown is a jelly-like consistency, which could be part of your mucus plug—but more than a few streaks should be discussed with your doctor.
Green vaginal discharge
Green, foul-smelling pregnancy discharge could be a sign of an infection like chlamydia or trichomoniasis, Langdon says. This may be accompanied by itching or burning.
Yellow vaginal discharge
Yellow discharge during pregnancy could also be a sign of an infection. Keep in mind, an occasional splotch of yellowish discharge on a panty liner or underwear could simply be dried urine and is nothing to worry about.
Gray vaginal discharge
Thin, fishy smelling, gray vaginal discharge could signify an infection like bacterial vaginosis (BV), which requires treatment from a doctor, Langdon says.
Pink vaginal discharge
Pink or pink-streaked discharge signifies blood. It doesn’t necessarily indicate anything is wrong, but it’s a good idea to discuss with your doctor right away to determine the cause of the spotting.
Red vaginal discharge
While heavy bleeding or discharge containing clots may be a sign of miscarriage, smaller amounts of blood—more than a few specks or streaks—also warrant medical attention. Any persistent spotting or heavier bleeding in early pregnancy should be evaluated by your doctor with an exam and an ultrasound. “Bleeding in the first trimester does not mean that you’ll inevitably have a miscarriage,” Langdon says. Instead, it could be a sign of an infection or could indicate an issue like placenta previa, where the placenta lies over the cervix. This isn’t an emergency, but it does require monitoring.
Vaginal Discharge Color Chart
Image: Lindsey Balbierz
How to Deal With Pregnancy Discharge
There’s really no way to reduce discharge during pregnancy—but you wouldn’t want to, anyway. It’s your body’s natural way of expelling bacteria that could harm both you and baby. The best way to deal with pregnancy discharge is to keep the area dry and clean.
Wearing cotton underwear and a pantyliner or changing underwear once a day can keep you feeling fresh and can also make it easier to monitor anything amiss. If you have heavy discharge, you can always use a pad for extra protection. However, steer clear of tampons and douches, Underwood warns, as putting anything in the vagina during pregnancy could increase your risk of infection. You also don’t need to use any wipes; remember, your vagina naturally cleans itself. Plus, wipes can also potentially change the pH levels in your genital tract and lead to infection.
When to Call the Doctor
If you’re ever nervous about your vaginal discharge during pregnancy, don’t hesitate to call your doctor, who’ll want to hear if anything is unusual for you, especially if the discharge is accompanied by pain, itching or burning. “We talk about this all day, so if you have any questions, we want to know,” Underwood says.
If you begin experiencing any of the following signs or symptoms related to your pregnancy discharge, contact your doctor:
Discharge with blood (while it’s not uncommon to see some blood in your discharge, if your discharge is bloody and watery, call your doctor)
Discharge that is green, yellow or grey
Discharge that is frothy or watery
Note that intercourse can change the consistency of your vaginal discharge during pregnancy. Keeping track of when those changes happen—for example, seeing a few streaks of pink discharge after having sex—can help you monitor your pregnancy discharge and give your doctor a heads up about any concerning patterns you may notice.
During later pregnancy, if you’re experiencing significant dampness, it could potentially signal an amniotic rupture that needs immediate attention. Since amniotic fluid is clear and odorless, it can be hard to discern from typical pregnancy discharge. One way to assess: Put on a new pair of underpants or a new pantyliner for an hour. If you’re noticeably damp or wet after an hour, Underwood says, it may be a good idea to call your doctor.
You’re going to notice a lot of changes in your body during the course of your pregnancy, and some of those may show up in your discharge. While leukorrhea is totally normal, it’s important to keep an eye on your discharge as it can tell you a lot about what your body is going through—maybe you notice signs of your mucus plug, which means baby is on the way, or perhaps you discover symptoms of an infection. The more you familiarize yourself with what’s happening below, the more in tune you will be with your body and baby.
About the experts:
Nicolle S. Underwood, MD, is an obstetrician at Pacific Women’s Healthcare Associates in Irvine, California. She earned her medical degree from Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University.
Kimberly Langdon, MD, is an obstetrician and medical advisor for digital health company Medzino. She earned her medical degree from The Ohio State University College of Medicine in 1991.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.
Plus, more from The Bump:
The Best Maternity Underwear for Ultimate Comfort
14 Early Signs of Pregnancy
What You Need to Know About Sex During Pregnancy
articles of the Oxford Medical clinic Kyiv
What discharge during pregnancy is considered normal?
When should you see a doctor for discharge?
Discharge during early pregnancy
Discharge during late pregnancy
Discharge during pregnancy by color0005
During pregnancy, a woman's body undergoes a number of physiological changes - her body changes, adapts to carrying a baby and future childbirth. Changes can also occur with vaginal discharge. After conception, their number or color may become different, which often makes a woman worry. In order not to worry for no reason, but also not to miss a possible reason to see a doctor, you need to know which discharges are normal and which are not.
What discharge during pregnancy is considered normal?
The nature of the discharge at different stages of pregnancy may vary slightly. Standard variant are:
transparent or white discharge;
not exceeding the usual volume;
not accompanied by itching, burning or other painful symptoms.
At the same time, in the first 2-4 weeks, the daily discharge may increase slightly and become thicker. It is also possible the appearance of light spotting within a few hours or a day, which occurs as a result of the implantation of the embryo to the uterine wall.
When should you see a doctor for discharge?
During pregnancy, a woman is advised to visit a gynecologist regularly for examinations and tests. First, consultations are prescribed once a month, and then once every 2 weeks. This allows you to carefully monitor the health of the pregnant woman and the development of the fetus. But, if discomfort appears, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible.
One of the alarming symptoms is the appearance of atypical discharge:
yellow, green, brown;
accompanied by itching, burning and other symptoms.
Such a change in the nature of the discharge may be associated with the development of an inflammatory or infectious disease, as well as complications of pregnancy. To find out the exact cause, you need to do tests, conduct an ultrasound and, if necessary, other studies.
Discharge during early pregnancy
When conception occurs, changes begin in the body. First of all, the synthesis of the hormone progesterone increases and blood flow to the pelvic organs increases. These processes are often accompanied by profuse vaginal discharge. They can be translucent, white or with a slight yellowish tint. There should be no unpleasant odor or skin irritation.
Shortly thereafter, progesterone levels decrease and estrogen levels rise. At this time, a mucous plug is formed that covers the cervix. Its formation can also cause increased secretion, but gradually it should decrease and become more liquid and transparent.
In addition, in the first weeks, the ovum attaches to the wall of the uterus, which can cause light brown discharge. As a rule, they are scarce and quickly stop - within a few hours or a day. If heavy bleeding has begun, you should immediately consult a doctor.
Approximately from 5 to 20 weeks, the discharge should be the same - transparent or whitish, in small volume, odorless.
Discharge in late pregnancy
From 20 to 40 weeks of pregnancy, the discharge is normally white, free of impurities and unpleasant odor.
In the last week before childbirth, the discharge may become thinner. If they are very abundant, leakage or discharge of amniotic fluid is possible, which requires a visit to a doctor.
Characterization of pregnancy discharge by color
Normal discharge should be colorless or white. A change in color and consistency may indicate the development of a disease or complications of pregnancy.
Bright or dark yellow discharge most often occurs when inflammation develops. Grey-green and green may result from infection. Thick white discharge speaks about it - as a rule, candidiasis manifests itself. Brown discharge may be due to slight bleeding.
Oxford Medical says it is important to consider not only the color of the discharge, but also its smell, volume and consistency. A sharp and unpleasant odor appears only with bacterial or fungal diseases, so it should by no means be ignored. Also, an alarming signal is a strong increase in the volume of secretions, a change in structure, foaminess and other deviations from the norm.
There can be many reasons for abnormal discharge. To find them out, you need to conduct examinations, and then, if necessary, treatment.
Bloody discharge during pregnancy
The appearance of bloody discharge at any stage of pregnancy is a reason to immediately consult a doctor.
The exception is small spotting in the first weeks (usually the date of the expected menstruation), which indicates the implantation of the embryo. At this point, capillaries and small vessels can be injured, which causes light bleeding. Normally, it is very weak, not accompanied by pain or other unpleasant symptoms.
Blood-streaked discharge may also occur on the eve of childbirth as a result of cervical dilatation. This is normal, but a doctor's consultation is required.
In other cases, both in the first and last trimester, any discharge from pale pink and brown to red is a dangerous symptom. The violation may be minor, but it is necessary to conduct an examination.
Bleeding can be caused by:
inflammatory and infectious diseases;
threatened miscarriage or premature birth.
Regular follow-up with an experienced obstetrician-gynecologist and the implementation of all recommendations will help to avoid possible complications and concentrate on the most important thing - the joyful expectation of the baby and preparation for meeting him.
Increased vaginal discharge during pregnancy is natural
Normal pregnancy discharge is milky white or clear mucus without a strong odor (although the smell may change from before pregnancy), this discharge does not irritate the skin and does not cause discomfort to the pregnant woman. The discharge can have a different color - from completely colorless (most often) to whitish and yellowish. The consistency of discharge at the beginning of pregnancy resembles raw chicken yolk - they are thick, jelly-like, often released in the form of clots.
With normal discharge, it is enough to use panty liners or change underwear twice a day.
Due to the activity of progesterone in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the discharge will be scarce and viscous.
Due to the increase in estrogen activity from 13 weeks, the discharge becomes less viscous and more abundant.
By the end of the pregnancy, vaginal discharge becomes more and more abundant. Each time you need to evaluate the nature of the discharge, change the gasket. If the fluid continues to ooze, this may mean leakage of amniotic fluid and the need to contact an obstetrician-gynecologist in the emergency department of a hospital with a maternity ward. There are auxiliary tests, thanks to which, as well as obstetric ultrasound, leakage of water can be excluded.
Not all discharge in pregnant women is the norm.
For example, a white, thick, crumbly, odorless discharge that itchs and burns the skin and causes discomfort during intercourse is likely a sign of a yeast infection (candidiasis).
White or grayish discharge, the smell of which after sex begins to resemble the smell of fish, is the main symptom of bacterial vaginosis, vaginal dysbacteriosis.
A yellowish or greenish discharge that has a strong unpleasant odor usually occurs with nonspecific vaginitis, and a foamy discharge is a sign of trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted disease.
In all these cases, contact your doctor immediately. It should not be treated with over-the-counter drugs and folk remedies. According to some external signs, a diagnosis cannot even be made by a doctor, in addition, infections in pregnant women should be treated especially carefully and only by a professional. After proper treatment, the discharge returns to normal. There is no need to get rid of the usual discharge for pregnant women. After childbirth, they will stop naturally, and before that they are a sign of the normal course of pregnancy.
Allocations can change their nature and amount under the influence of irritants or intolerance to a particular substance, for example, when using panty liners. Such secretions are transparent and abundant, they stop when the irritant is removed.
"Thrush" is a disease caused by fungi of the genus Candida, present in small quantities in all women. During pregnancy, immunity decreases and fungi begin to actively multiply, causing inflammation, abundant white flocculent discharge with a sour smell, burning and itching in the vulva. The disease can manifest itself throughout pregnancy.
Bloody discharge in the first half of pregnancy usually indicates a lack of the hormone progesterone, which can lead to spontaneous miscarriage. Discharge may be accompanied by pain in the lower abdomen and lower back. In the treatment of the threat of abortion, the appointment of progesterone drugs, such phenomena disappear.
If bleeding from the vagina appeared during pregnancy during the second or third trimester, then this is a sign of a formidable complication, namely, placenta previa or its premature detachment. With improper attachment of the placenta in the uterine cavity and overlapping of the placental tissue with the area of the internal pharynx, they speak of placenta previa. In this case, spotting occurs in a third of pregnant women. This most often occurs between 28 and 30 weeks, when the lower segment of the uterus is most prone to stretching and thinning. The discharge is repeated, the woman does not experience any pain, so it may be too late to see a doctor for an examination. This threatens the child with a lack of nutrients and oxygen, because it is through the placenta that the fetus is nourished. For a pregnant woman, this is fraught with acute placental abruption and severe bleeding, which is always problematic to stop, especially at home.
Bloody discharge during pregnancy should force a woman to immediately contact her obstetrician-gynecologist.
Brown discharge during pregnancy also indicates the threat of termination of pregnancy, or bleeding "erosion" (decidual polyp) of the cervix. Therefore, you should not understand these issues on your own; when brown discharge appears, it is better to consult your doctor.
Brown discharge during a delay in menstruation as a sign of an ectopic pregnancy is very dangerous. This condition requires immediate surgical care, as the growing embryo can rupture the wall of the fallopian tube at any time and cause internal bleeding. Therefore, with pain in the lower abdomen, which is accompanied by brown discharge from the genital tract and delayed menstruation, you should immediately call an ambulance.
When the vagina becomes inflamed, the mucous discharge acquires a mucopurulent character, a greenish-yellow color, an unpleasant odor, burning and itching appear in the genital area. This is how chlamydia, mycoplasmosis, ureaplasmosis, trichomoniasis manifest themselves. Is it necessary to treat the infection during pregnancy, or is it better to do it after childbirth?
All sexually transmitted infections in pregnant women require treatment, as they can pass to the fetus and cause intrauterine infection (IUI). IUI is very dangerous for a child - it leads to his death or serious illness. Infection of a child during childbirth can lead to such serious complications as pneumonia, severe damage to the brain, kidneys, liver, and blood poisoning (sepsis).
Today, obstetricians and gynecologists have learned to treat any infection in pregnant women in accordance with special guidelines for the timing of pregnancy, so that it is effective and safe for mother and fetus. It is not the treatment that should be feared, but the infection itself and its consequences.
Medicines that are used to treat pregnant women have passed the necessary clinical trials, during which it was proved that they do not have a negative effect on the pregnant woman and the fetus, including that they do not have a teratogenic effect (do not cause deformities in the fetus).
Sometimes the discharge is mucous in nature, occurs upon contact with an irritant or allergen. It can be synthetic tight underwear, allergies to fabrics, toiletries, personal care products. If irritation and allergens are not eliminated in time, then an infection that lives on the mucous membranes of the genital organs will definitely join.
Hygiene measures are mandatory for pregnant women.