Medically reviewed by Dr Kristy June Dinampo.
Pregnancy is a time when many strange things happen to a woman’s body. It can be a confusing time to say the least, and whilst many of these things are joyful, because you’re very aware of the fact that there’s a new life growing inside you, some of them are a bit, well, embarrassing really.
From not being able to poop, to pooping too much, to body changes, to more discharge ‘down below’ than you realized could occur – oh, the joys of pregnancy!
Vaginal discharge is a subject that many women shy away from talking about. It’s not really a conversation starter, and it’s not something you want to compare over a coffee, yet it is something which is very real and often problematic for many women. Of course, it’s also very normal – most of the time.
If you’ve been wondering about the amount of vaginal discharge you’ve been experiencing during your pregnancy, and about the color of it, there is a chink of light on the horizon – we’re going to talk about it!
It doesn’t matter how embarrassing it may seem, we don’t judge and we’re not embarrassed to chat about this rather stigma-laced matter.
Why is There More Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy?
Vaginal discharge is there all the time, it’s your vagina’s way of staying healthy. It’s a self-cleaning kind of unit! At certain times of a woman’s menstrual cycle, away from pregnancy, there is more discharge than others.
This is all down to hormones.
For instance, just prior to ovulation, many women tend to notice an egg-white type of consistency to their discharge, which then reverts back to normal. This is all down to hormones and your body preparing itself for the next phase of the cycle.
When you’re pregnant, the discharge you experience is not hugely different to that you will have noticed at any other time, but you may notice more of it. During pregnancy, there are higher levels of hormones, significantly so, and your progesterone and estrogen are on the march. This works to increase how much discharge you will notice. It’s totally normal, and it’s actually got a name – leukorrhea.
Is There a Point at Which I Should Worry?
If it is just an increase in the amount of discharge you’re experiencing, then no, you don’t need to worry. If there are other things associated with it, such as a funky smell, a strange color, any itching, burning, or any discomfort, then it’s best to go and get this checked out by your doctor. It could be an infection which needs a course of treatment to clear it up.
Bacterial vaginosis is very common both in and out of pregnancy, which causes smelly, sometimes frothy, strange colored discharge. If however the discharge is not any of the above and there just seems to be so much of it, it’s not something you should be overly concerned about at all, it’s your body doing its normal job.
If you notice an increase in discharge and it is associated with burning or pain when you pee, this could be a water infection or a UTI (urinary tract infection). Again, if this is the case you need to see your doctor for a course of treatment to clear it up. You’ve no doubt experienced cystitis or a UTI before in the past, most women have, so you’ll know the signs.
Situations to be Aware of
- We’ve talked about how an increase in normal discharge throughout pregnancy isn’t something to worry about, but there are a few situations you should be aware of. If you notice the following symptoms, seek help as a matter of urgency:
- A large amount of fluid, which isn’t really a discharge and is more of a clear, thin water
- If you are less than 37 weeks pregnant and you notice that you have blood-stained discharge, you could be in premature labor, especially if you notice other symptoms with it, such as cramping
- If your vulva feels itchy, sore, swollen, you could have a yeast infection and this needs to be treated as soon as you can
- If an increase in discharge is accompanied by cramping, feeling unwell, feeling feverish, or even more tired than usual
What Can You do to Ease The Situation?
If you’re noticing that the increase in vaginal discharge is annoying you at all, then there are a few things you can do to make yourself feel more comfortable. Do remember however that all of this is for a reason, and the increase in vaginal discharge is to flush out any potential bacteria that could cause you illness or affect your baby. Discharge is a normal thing and provided it doesn’t air on the side of strange, it’s something you should be glad of, in some ways!
- Avoid tight trousers or skirts, and stick to things which are loose
- Wear underwear which is made of 100% cotton
- Avoid anything which is made of nylon, as this can help increase moisture and make you feel more uncomfortable
- Sleep without underwear if you can, as this helps with airflow and can help to avoid thrush
- Don’t use any scented or perfumed deodorants or washes in the genital area
- Avoid douching, as this can cause your vaginal pH balance to go completely out of whack
- If the discharge is a big problem, you can wear an unscented panty liner, and change it regularly, to keep the area dry
- When wiping, always go front to back
These self-care methods can help you to feel more comfortable during your pregnancy, if vaginal discharge is something which annoys you or troubles you to a large degree. Do remember however that vaginal discharge is there for that very good reason we talked about before! Pregnancy isn’t glamorous, there aren’t any sophisticated beauty pageant-style prizes to be won throughout its nine months’ span, but every part of it has been designed by nature to get you and your baby healthily and safely towards your meeting.