Vaginal discharge isn’t a topic most of us want to discuss with our friends. But the fact is, every woman experiences some degree of discharge. And that’s actually a very good thing; it helps to keep vaginal tissue healthy and protects against infection, according to the Mayo Clinic. What’s more, it’s very normal to have an increase in discharge when you have a baby on board. It’s called leukorrhea of pregnancy, and it’s no big deal. But it may explain why you’re feeling slightly swampy down there. So what exactly is leukorrhea and what does it look like? We’re sharing everything you need to know about this thin, milky white discharge—plus, some tips to help you feel a bit fresher.
In this article: What is leukorrhea? What does milky white discharge mean? What does leukorrhea look like during pregnancy? When to call the doctor Tips for coping with leukorrhea during pregnancy
What Is Leukorrhea?
Leukorrhea is the medical term for vaginal discharge, and it’s common to have more of it during pregnancy. In the vast majority of cases, it’s completely normal. But when does leukorrhea start during pregnancy? If you recently learned that you’re expecting, you can also expect an uptick in leukorrhea; early pregnancy is often when many women notice a sudden surge. “Leukorrhea may become more noticeable, especially during the first trimester and toward the end of the third trimester closer to delivery,” says Heather Lopez, MD, an ob-gyn with BJC Medical Group at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. She explains that this is “due to increased blood flow to the vagina as well as an increase in pregnancy hormones.”
What Does Milky White Discharge Mean?
Normal vaginal discharge changes throughout a woman’s cycle; as you approach and reach ovulation, cervical mucus may evolve from a cloudy, milky white hue to a more translucent discharge with a stretchy, slippery texture.
You may have a similar thin, milky white discharge during pregnancy. That’s simply one way to describe the inevitable increase in moisture that occurs during pregnancy; you may also notice an increase in sweat in that general area too, which is also common during pregnancy. (Chalk it up to those surging hormones.) For most pregnant women, leukorrhea does resemble milk; it’s somewhat watery and white or cloudy. Leukorrhea discharge can even leave a chalky stain on your underwear. Still, there are many variations of “normal” when it comes to leukorrhea in pregnancy, so don’t be surprised if your discharge looks a bit different.
What Does Leukorrhea Look Like During Pregnancy?
Heather Bartos, MD, an ob-gyn and medical director at Be. Women’s Health & Wellness in Frisco, Texas, outlines the many different types of leukorrhea discharge: “Normal leukorrhea can be a milky white vaginal discharge that’s opaque. But it can also be a bit yellow or even slightly brown.” If it’s more of a clear mucus, that’s fine too. ”But it’s usually thin, unlike the thicker curd-like discharge you typically see with a yeast infection,” she explains.
So how do you know what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to leukorrhea in pregnancy? Just keep an eye out for any changes to the discharge you’re having. “When I talk to my patients about leukorrhea, we discuss that the amount and frequency of leukorrhea can be different for each patient,” says Lopez.
When to Call the Doctor
While leukorrhea discharge varies from woman to woman, there are some potential red flags to watch for. “Call your doctor if the leukorrhea has changed for you—it now has a different smell or it’s blood tinged, meaning there’s a pink or dark brown tinge to it, or if it becomes very irritating and you’re worried that it might be something like yeast or bacterial vaginosis,” Bartos advises. When it comes to leukorrhea discharge, you’ll want to reach out to your OB or midwife if you experience any of the following:
A sudden increase in watery discharge. If you’re experiencing what seems like a constant flow or perpetual dripping of thin, watery fluid, it could indicate a small leak of amniotic fluid instead of leukorrhea. How can you tell the difference? Amniotic fluid leak will keep going and may even smell slightly sweet. Leukorrhea can be annoying, but it won’t gush out and shouldn’t smell like much of anything.
A greenish tint or foul smell. “It’s important to call your doctor if you notice that the leukorrhea becomes associated with a foul odor, or if it’s causing irritation such as painful urination or a burning sensation in the vagina,” says Lopez. These symptoms may indicate an infection.
An increase in thickness or chunky white discharge. Leukorrhea is typically thin. If it becomes extra thick or has a chunky white texture, it can be a sign of a yeast infection, which your doctor can treat to prevent further discomfort and itchiness.
Tips for Coping With Leukorrhea During Pregnancy
Experiencing extra leukorrhea discharge during pregnancy isn’t usually something to worry about. It can be kind of inconvenient and annoying, though—feeling perpetually damp or oozy down there isn’t particularly pleasant. The key to abating any discomfort is taking proactive steps to make yourself feel dry and fresh. “If leukorrhea during pregnancy is causing irritation or itchiness, it’s okay to use a zinc oxide cream to form a protective barrier,” says Bartos. She also suggests dusting a pinch of cornstarch into your underwear to help absorb some of the excess moisture. Other helpful tips for dealing with the milky white discharge of pregnancy? Lopez suggests wearing a panty liner and opting for breathable cotton underwear. She also warns against any vaginal douching.
Leukorrhea isn’t the most glamorous side effect of pregnancy, but it’s not something to stress about either. Remember: That thin, milky white discharge is helping keep your vagina clean, and it should eventually subside. Of course, if you have any concerns about normal (or abnormal) leukorrhea or anything else, reach out to your doctor.
About the experts:
Heather Bartos, MD, is an ob-gyn and the medical director of Be. Women’s Health & Wellness in Frisco, Texas. A navy veteran, she spent 12 years serving the women and spouses of the armed forces, and was an associate professor at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. She completed her residency at Baylor College of Medicine, and earned her medical degree at The University of Texas.
Heather Lopez, MD, is an ob-gyn with BJC Medical Group at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. She earned her medical degree from Florida State University in Tallahassee.
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:
Bleeding and Spotting During Pregnancy: What It May Mean
15 Early Signs of Pregnancy
What to Do About Early Pregnancy Cramps
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
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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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Pregnancy discharge | What are the discharge during pregnancy? | Blog
In the absence of menstruation, girls usually suspect that conception has occurred. However, during pregnancy, the female body may continue to secrete a secret of a different color and character. We recommend that you keep a close eye on everything that happens so as not to miss the development of adverse events. We will talk about how to recognize problem situations during pregnancy in the article.
What discharge can occur during conception
Many women note that immediately after the delay and in the later stages, the nature of the secretion changes. It can be:
With or without scent.
Depending on the color - transparent, white, cream, yellow, greenish, bloody.
By consistency - thick, liquid, cheesy.
As a symptom for assessing the state of health - threatening, safe.
During ovulation, the egg is released from the ovary, its membrane is deflated, a small amount of fluid is released - so it becomes ready for fertilization. At this time, the thick mucus that fills the cervical canal of the cervix becomes less viscous. This makes it easier for the spermatozoa to penetrate and move further into the tubes for fertilization. At this time, you may notice an abundance of clear mucous secretion.
After the fusion of the egg with the spermatozoon, movement into the uterus begins, which should end with implantation in the inner layer. During penetration, its slight detachment may occur - this causes damage to the blood vessels that abundantly penetrate the muscular layer of the uterus. You may see light brown discharge, which is common during pregnancy. The color is due to the fact that the blood has time to clot.
Sometimes the discharge is brightly colored and some women mistake it for a period that has started too early. But in this case, a short duration is characteristic, a different shade (dark or scarlet), a slight mark on the linen.
With some features of the structure of the female genital organs (for example, with a bicornuate uterus), after implantation of the embryo in one part, rejection of the endometrium may begin in the other, as usually occurs during menstruation. This rarely happens.
Characteristics of discharge in the event of a threatened miscarriage
Spontaneous abortion is the rejection of an embryo in the early stages after conception. If at the first signs of pregnancy, you notice spotting, there is a high probability that a miscarriage begins.
Also, miscarriage symptoms include:
pulling or pressing on the lower abdomen, sacrum, lower back;
the muscles of the uterus are tense.
The woman may feel cramps. This continues all the time or intermittently. From the vagina there are scarlet or brown discharge during pregnancy, which was previously confirmed. Sometimes the period may be still small, and the first signs did not have time to appear.
After 22 weeks, this phenomenon is called preterm labor. The child in this case is still weak, the organs are not sufficiently developed, and there is little chance of survival.
The following factors increase the risk of miscarriage:
nervous and physical overexertion;
pathologies in the genitals;
fetal developmental defects.
To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor prescribes an ultrasound scan. If it shows that the fetal heart rate is disturbed, the tone of the uterus is increased, its size differs from normal for this period, hospitalization will be recommended to maintain pregnancy.
What discharge during pregnancy is considered normal
This secretion does not pose a threat to health:
without itching, burning, redness of the genitals.
Clear fluid on underwear is a symptom of ovulation. During pregnancy, the activity of ongoing processes in the body increases, so the amount of secretion secreted may increase. However, a violation of the norm is the leakage of amniotic fluid. You can determine the problem with the help of special diagnostic tests that the doctor will prescribe if he has suspicions.
White color, small amount, homogeneous structure should also not cause concern. The increased volume of fluid in this case is associated with increased hormonal activity.
One of the variants of the norm is mucous discharge, which smells of slight sourness. If there is no pain, discomfort, there is nothing to worry about.
Yellow discharge, there are signs of pregnancy, there is no unpleasant odor - you are all right. Some women had this color before conception, only they did not pay attention. Now there are more of them, therefore more noticeable.
Sometimes a woman observes that the laundry gets wet and there is a smell of urine. This may indicate incontinence due to the constant pressure of the growing uterus. In this case, it is recommended to go to the toilet more often, change underpants twice a day.
What discharge during pregnancy is considered a sign of infection?
White discharge during pregnancy with a cheesy texture is a symptom of thrush (candidiasis). In pregnant women, it is diagnosed quite often - the reason is a change in hormonal levels. The disease is accompanied by itching, redness of the vulva, a strong sour smell. Sometimes external manifestations are not detected, then treatment is not carried out.
Infection is indicated by pain, pain, skin irritation, ulcers, smell of rot or fish, gray or green color, frothy discharge, increased nervousness, large inguinal lymph nodes. The reason may lie in sexually transmitted infections. This includes syphilis, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, chlamydia and others. They are dangerous because they cause premature birth and fetal developmental defects.
What kind of discharge during pregnancy should I pay special attention to and should I consult a doctor?
The following indicates that pregnancy is at risk:
Severe pain in the perineum, bleeding, difficulty defecation, convulsions - these may be injuries to the vaginal mucosa.
Nausea, profuse vomiting, edema, headaches, cough, hypertension, bright red secretion are symptoms of hydatidiform mole (abnormal development of the embryo).
A drop in blood pressure, pallor, weakness, sweating, pulling sensations, bleeding during pregnancy against the background of a lack of growth of hCG in the blood - this is how ectopic attachment manifests itself.
Isolation of clots, sharp pain, vomiting, diarrhea may indicate a frozen fetus.
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
It is also necessary to go to the clinic if you have been physically abused, had rough sex, had an accident, fell, hit. The likelihood that the situation will be resolved successfully is much higher if you do not delay the visit, listen to the symptoms and take good care of your health.
Remember, despite the fact that pregnancy is a normal state of health of the female body, the diagnosis and treatment tactics are still different, due to the many restrictions on manipulations and medications during pregnancy. That is why diagnosis and treatment during pregnancy should take place only under the supervision of a physician. By ignoring the symptoms or self-medicating, a pregnant woman risks not only her health, but also the health of her child.
Doctors of the Leleka maternity hospital manage pregnancies of any complexity, including those aggravated by infections, pathologies, and the threat of miscarriage. Our own diagnostic laboratory allows us to accurately and in the shortest possible time to obtain the results of the tests. Thanks to constant medical supervision throughout the entire period, the chances of a successful birth are greatly increased.
Trust the life and health of your child to Leleka doctors, and we will make sure that you are satisfied.
What is it? Normal and abnormal discharge during pregnancy
Today we will talk with Elena Yurievna Romanova, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Expert Center for Pregnancy Management at the Mother and Child Clinic, about what discharges during pregnancy should be feared and what discharges from the genital tract are regarded as normal.
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. Twice a day you need to take a warm shower, using special gels for pregnant women to wash the genitals. Be sure to monitor the cleanliness of the whole body and underwear - it must be changed daily.