Vaginal discharge during pregnancy | Pregnancy Birth and Baby
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All women, whether they’re pregnant or not, have some vaginal discharge starting a year or 2 before puberty and ending after the menopause. How much discharge you have changes from time to time and it usually gets heavier just before your period.
Is it normal to have vaginal discharge in pregnancy?
Almost all women have more vaginal discharge in pregnancy. This is quite normal and happens for a few reasons. During pregnancy the cervix (neck of the womb) and vaginal walls get softer and discharge increases to help prevent any infections travelling up from the vagina to the womb. Increased levels of the hormones progesterone can also make you produce more fluid.
Increased discharge is a normal part of pregnancy, but it’s important to keep an eye on it and tell your doctor or midwife if it changes in any way.
How does vaginal discharge change during pregnancy?
Increased discharge can be a sign that you are pregnant — though many things can influence vaginal discharge so you can’t be sure this is the reason.
The amount of discharge may increase throughout the pregnancy. Towards the end, there may be so much you confuse it with urine.
Towards the end of pregnancy, the amount of discharge increases and can be confused with urine.
In the last week or so of pregnancy, your discharge may contain streaks of thick mucus and some blood. This is called a 'show' and happens when the mucus that has been present in your cervix during pregnancy comes away. It's a sign that the body is starting to prepare for birth, and you may have a few small 'shows' in the days before you go into labour.
When to see your midwife or doctor
You should tell your midwife or doctor if your vaginal discharge increases a lot in later pregnancy. If you have any vaginal bleeding in pregnancy, you should contact your midwife or doctor urgently, as it can sometimes be a sign of a more serious problem such as a miscarriage or a problem with the placenta.
Normal healthy discharge should:
be clear and white
not smell bad
Tell your midwife or doctor if:
the discharge is coloured (greenish or brownish)
there is blood in the discharge
it smells strange
you feel itchy or sore
If the discharge is coloured or smells strange, or if you feel itchy or sore, you may have a vaginal infection such as thrush, which your doctor can treat easily, or bacterial vaginosis. Do not try to treat it yourself — always talk to your doctor, pharmacist or midwife if you think you have an infection.
You can help prevent thrush by wearing loose cotton underwear, and some women find it helps to avoid perfumed soap or perfumed bath products.
Mater Mother’s Hospital (Pregnancy - information for women and families), NSW Health (Having a baby), Jean Hailes for Women’s Health (Hormonal health – clues made clear)
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Last reviewed: November 2020
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Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy: What’s Normal?
Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy: What’s Normal?
Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT — By Juliann Schaeffer — Updated on March 7, 2019
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Typical vaginal discharge is thin, clear, or milky white, as well as mild smelling. It will fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle. During pregnancy, the discharge will increase and may vary in consistency, thickness, frequency, and amount.
Pregnancy can be as confusing as it is elating, and it’s not always easy to tell which changes are typical and which are cause for concern.
One of the earliest signs of pregnancy is an increase in vaginal discharge, and this continues throughout pregnancy.
When a woman becomes pregnant, her vagina largely takes on a personality of its own, says Dr. Sheryl Ross, an OB-GYN and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
Typical vaginal discharge, known as leukorrhea, will begin to change as early as one to two weeks after conception, even before you’ve missed your period. As your pregnancy progresses, this discharge usually becomes more noticeable, and it’s heaviest at the end of your pregnancy. You may want to wear an unscented panty liner. Avoid tampons in pregnancy.
In the last weeks of pregnancy, you may also notice that your discharge contains streaks of thick mucus with streaks of blood, called “show.” This is an early sign of labor and should not be cause for alarm.
Vaginal discharge ebbs and flows throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle due to a fluctuation in hormone levels. Once you become pregnant, hormones continue to play a role in the changes to your vaginal discharge.
Changes to the cervix during pregnancy also affect vaginal discharge. As the cervix and vaginal wall soften, the body produces excess discharge to help prevent infections. Your baby’s head may also press against the cervix as you near the end of your pregnancy, which often leads to increased vaginal discharge.
It’s important to let your healthcare provider know about any abnormal discharge, as it could be a sign of an infection or a problem with your pregnancy. Here are some signs of abnormal discharge:
yellow, green, or gray color
strong and foul odor
accompanied by redness or itching, or vulvar swelling
Abnormal discharge may be a sign of infection. Yeast infections are common during pregnancy. If you develop a yeast infection during pregnancy, your doctor may recommend a vaginal cream or suppository. To avoid a yeast infection:
wear loose, breathable clothing
wear cotton underwear
dry your genitals after showering, swimming, or exercising
add yogurt and other fermented foods to your diet to promote healthy bacteria
Abnormal discharge can also be caused by a sexually transmitted disease (STD). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend screening all pregnant women for STDs. Your healthcare provider may screen you for STDs at your first prenatal appointment. If you believe you have an STD, it’s important to let your doctor know as soon as possible to help reduce the risk of passing the STD to your baby.
Abnormal discharge may also signal a complication in your pregnancy. Call your healthcare provider immediately if you have bright red discharge that exceeds an ounce. This could be a sign of placenta previa or placental abruption.
When in doubt, it’s always better to play it safe and call your doctor. Note when the changes to your vaginal discharge began and any defining characteristics. This will help your doctor determine if your discharge is cause for concern.
Last medically reviewed on May 26, 2017
How we vetted this article:
Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
STDs during pregnancy – CDC fact sheet. (2014). cdc.gov/std/pregnancy/stdfact-pregnancy.htm
Vaginal discharge during pregnancy. (2014). americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/vaginal-discharge-during-pregnancy/
Vaginal discharge during pregnancy. (2014). pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/vaginal-discharge-during-pregnancy
Yeast infections during pregnancy. (2006). americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/yeast-infections-during-pregnancy/
Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
Mar 8, 2019
May 26, 2017
Medically Reviewed By
Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT
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Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph. D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT — By Juliann Schaeffer — Updated on March 7, 2019
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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.