If you are pregnant, chances are that you probably get worked up about every little change in your body. While some changes are simply annoying, few can signal an underlying condition.
Vaginal discharge is quite normal during pregnancy, but the color of the discharge can tell you whether you need to consult a doctor or simply run down to the supermarket for some panty liners.
If you are worried about the color of your vaginal discharge or you notice that it doesn’t look or smell normal, consult your doctor. Meanwhile, know why the vividly colored vaginal discharge occurs.
Types Of Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy
When you are pregnant, you will notice an increase in your vaginal discharge, something you may have always experienced but haven’t noticed until now. Before you panic, understand that vaginal discharge is a part of pregnancy and is quite normal.
Here are some of the different types of vaginal discharge that you may experience while you are pregnant:
1. White Vaginal Discharge
It is one of the first types of vaginal discharge you experience while you are pregnant. When you are pregnant, your body produces a higher amount of estrogen and also results in a higher amount of blood flow to your vaginal area.
The white vaginal discharge is a mix of fluids that are secreted from your cervix, from your vagina, and from the regular bacteria that live in your vaginal walls.
As you reach the end of your pregnancy, you will notice some changes of your white vaginal discharge. While it may be heavier in terms of flow, you may notice a difference in terms of the look and feel of it.
How It Smells
It will have either no odor or a very mild one, like a milky smell. Unless and until you notice a very strong or foul smell or experience itching in your vaginal area along with the discharge, there is no need to worry.
The Type Of Flow
You might have experienced a similar type of vaginal discharge before you were pregnant. If yes, the discharge is probably leukorrhea. The only difference that you will notice in the discharge before and during pregnancy is the amount of discharge. The flow will be a little more than what it was earlier.
The Discharge In Different Stages
In your earlier weeks of pregnancy, the secretions from your cervix fill up your cervical canal. As a result, it helps to form a protective barrier that is also known as the mucus plug.
As you progress in your pregnancy, your cervix starts to become thinner and gradually dilates, or opens up. At this stage, it may push out the mucus plug in the form of a vaginal discharge. When that happens, you will notice a change in the way your white vaginal discharge looks.
If you notice a strong odor and the vaginal discharge looks like curd or cottage cheese, it could probably be a result of yeast infection or fungal infection in the vagina.
It will look more like the white part of a raw egg or mucus that you may have when you suffer from a cold. In most cases, the mucus will come out as one big blob of white vaginal discharge, which may sometimes also have a few spots of blood in it. In the later stages of your pregnancy and closer to your due date, you may notice that the discharge is clearer and more watery than earlier. This could be a result of leakage in your amniotic fluid and may signal the arrival of labor.
2. Green Vaginal Discharge
Seeing a vaginal discharge during your pregnancy that is green can be a little daunting, and it is something you should also be careful about. If you do notice a green vaginal discharge, make sure you speak to your doctor about it immediately.
First, take a look and see if the green color is present throughout the discharge or if it is only in a few spots. A greenish discharge from your vagina can mean that you have a chronic infection.
Due To Infection
When you have any vaginal infection or an infection that may be present near your vaginal area, the neutrophils, which is a type of white blood cell, start multiplying in number. In an infection, these cells become extremely active.
As some of the neutrophils start to die, they break up into smaller pieces and give off a green colored pigment that is also known as verdoperoxidase. It is this pigment that makes your vaginal discharge look greenish.
Verdoperoxidase is a type of enzyme and is sometimes also referred to as the green mucus, due to its color and texture. It is the enzyme that creates peroxidase activity that is present in pus.
The green discharge can also be due to vaginal warts. A wart is a growth that often occurs as a result of a viral infection as part of a sexually transmitted disease, or even otherwise.
Warts may be the same color as your skin or could also be grayish. While they can appear anywhere in your genital area or anal region, warts that are present in your vaginal area can lead to a greenish discharge.
With A Foul Smell
If you notice a strong and foul smell that accompanies your green vaginal discharge, it could be a case of trichomoniasis. The other symptoms in this case are a yellowish and greenish discharge and a little bubbly or frothy texture.
Trichomoniasis is a type of parasitic infection and in most cases affects your vaginal area, the urinary tract, or even your digestive system.
Another possible reason could be a condition known as gonorrhea. It is a type of venereal disease in which you experience mildly frothy vaginal discharge.
3. Pink Vaginal Discharge
Your vaginal discharge can have a pinkish tint, which can either be completely pink, dark pink, or pale pink.
Mixed With Blood
In most cases, the pink color that you notice while you are pregnant is because there are small amounts of blood mixed in an otherwise white discharge. It may have the type of color that you notice almost toward the end of your menstrual period when the blood flow is at its last phase.
You will most likely notice this discharge at the earliest days after you have conceived – a case of implantation bleeding.
Once you conceive, the egg that is fertilized makes its journey toward your womb and implants itself there, resulting in a little amount of bleeding. And this mixes with the regular white discharge.
Toward the last few weeks or days of your pregnancy, you may notice the pink discharge again. If this has a thick consistency and a mucus-like texture, it could be a sign that your labor is due any time now.
Sometimes, this kind of discharge could also point toward a severe infection in the vaginal area or your uterus. If you also experience any itching or pain, immediately contact your doctor.
Indication Of Miscarriage
The discharge could also mean that there has been a miscarriage. Sometimes, a silent miscarriage or a missed miscarriage can be the reason. That is, even though the fetus is not alive anymore, the body is not able to realize this and continues to behave as if still pregnant.
In such cases, the body is not able to remove the pregnancy tissue from its system. The placenta will keep releasing pregnancy-related hormones, which is why all the symptoms of pregnancy, such as nausea, dizziness, and distaste toward food may still be present.
An ectopic pregnancy is a type of pregnancy in which the fetus starts to develop outside the womb instead of growing inside the womb. In most cases, the fetus starts to develop in the fallopian tube. It is a very serious condition that can be dangerous for the mother to be.
Placenta previa, also known as abruptio placentae, is a condition in which the placenta is placed in such a way that it either completely or partially blocks the opening of the uterus.
Here, it becomes difficult for the unborn baby to be born via a vaginal birth. The condition causes internal bleeding, contractions in the uterus, as well as severe distress to the unborn baby.
4. Yellow Vaginal Discharge
The discharge could be an immediate sign of possible infection. The neutrophils can be the cause of the yellowish color.
In case of severe infection, the yellowish tint may turn into a yellowish and greenish mixed color and then to an outright green discharge. Once the yellow vaginal discharge turns to green, it means the infection has reached a chronic state.
Even if the discharge on your panties is white, but may have the possibility of turning into yellow once it comes in contact with air and becomes dry.
Also known as bacterial vaginosis, it is one of the most common infections in the vaginal area in fertile women. While the condition mostly develops after having sexual relations, it is not categorized as a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Discuss with your doctor, especially if you are sexually active during your pregnancy.
In some cases, this condition can also result in a strong and unpleasant fishy odor, along with itching, swelling of the vaginal area, as well as redness and a burning sensation.
When Should You Call Your Doctor?
While vaginal discharge during pregnancy is normal, certain situations may require immediate medical attention:
- You may notice an increase in your vaginal discharge, which looks more watery, like mucus in texture, or also prominent spots of blood present in it. It could be lightly tinged with blood, making it more pinkish than white or red. Sometimes, it could also be a dark brownish color that looks like dried blood. If you have not yet reached the 37th week of your pregnancy, this could indicate premature labor.
- You could have a simple white discharge from the vagina that does not have any odor but feels very uncomfortable. You might experience pain when you pee or during sexual intercourse (after your doctor has given you the confirmation to go ahead). You may also feel some pain, soreness, and tenderness around your vaginal area. You may notice that the opening of your vagina has an inflammation and looks red. This could mean yeast infection.
- You may notice a grayish or thin whitish discharge from your vagina that also has a distinctly unpleasant fishy odor. It typically happens when you have had sexual intercourse and your discharge mixes with the semen from your partner. Make sure you stop any sexual activity for the time being and speak to your doctor about it first.
- You could experience a yellow or greenish discharge from your vagina that may or may not also be frothy. Such a discharge will also be accompanied by a very unpleasant and strong odor. The signs and symptoms could point towards a very common sexually transmitted disease (STD) known as trichomoniasis. Some other symptoms could be itching or irritation in your vaginal area or the opening of the vagina, and redness or swelling in your vaginal area or the opening of the vagina. Additionally, you may also experience pain, discomfort or a burning sensation while you urinate or when you have sexual intercourse. Make sure you stop any sexual activity for the time being and speak to your doctor about it first.
- You may have a greenish, grayish or even yellowish discharge that has a very unpleasant and strong odor. You could also experience other symptoms such as itching, a burning sensation, or even irritation. Make sure you call your doctor and ask about the treatment options that you need to follow.
Vaginal discharge, although normal, can be uncomfortable and feel unhygienic. For better health, ensure you do not catch any infection by following these few steps:
- Use a panty liner if you feel the flow of normal discharge is quite heavy and regularly soils your underpants. This will help absorb the discharge without letting it stain or spoil your clothes.
- You could also use a regular sanitary pad. Make sure that you regularly change the sanitary pad, even if you feel that it is not completely soaked. Change the pad at least once every four hours to avoid the chance of infection.
- Do not use tampons while you are pregnant, as it could lead to certain infections and may cause more discomfort than comfort.
- It is always a good idea to keep your private parts clean and healthy to avoid the risk of infection, especially when you are pregnant. Make sure that you always keep your genital area clean, especially each time after using the toilet. Always remember to wipe in a front-to-back motion. If you try the other way around, germs from your anal region could move toward your vaginal area and enter it, which could lead to infection.
- Wear pure cotton underpants as these will absorb sweat and make it difficult for bacteria and other germs to thrive.
- Do not wear tight pants, stockings, or nylon-based products around your genital area.
- Avoid taking bubble baths as some bubble baths can cause irritation in your vaginal area.
- Try to use non-scented soaps.
No matter the type or color of vaginal discharge, make sure you always keep your doctor updated about it. Also, if you have any concern or feel any symptoms such as itching, burning, swelling, redness, or any other factors mentioned earlier, contact your doctor.