When a woman is pregnant, she will experience many changes to her body, including vaginal discharge of numerous varieties. White discharge during pregnancy is known medically as leukorrhea which is usually milky white and of a thin texture with a mild smell. If you notice that the discharge is discolored, has a particularly potent aroma, the vaginal area becomes itchy, sore or painful, it is suggested that you speak with your midwife or doctor as soon as possible.
Is It Normal to Have White Discharge During Pregnancy?
It is perfectly normal to have white discharge during pregnancy. You may have noticed leukorrhea even before being pregnant. It is likely that the amount of discharge has just increased during pregnancy. This is due to the increased production of hormones, specifically estrogen.
It is also normal if you find the discharge increase right before or during labor. This is because of the expulsion of the mucus plug, a protective barrier within the cervix that forms in the early stages of pregnancy. The discharge is expelled from the body when the cervix begins to dilate and efface, leading to a discharge that is similar to egg white. The mucus plug may also be expelled in one singular gelatinous glob, in which it may also be slightly tinged with blood.
What to Do with White Discharge During Pregnancy
1. Wear Pads or Panty Liners
Pads and panty liners can be extremely helpful in absorbing the discharge and keeping the vaginal area clean. It is advisable to opt for pads or panty liners, as opposed to tampons.
2. Avoid Douching
The process of douching can cause many complications, including vaginal infections, as it can mess with the natural chemistry of the vagina. Therefore, it is best to avoid douching if you notice any vaginal discharge during pregnancy.
3. Stay Away from Washes and Wipes
Although vaginal washes and wipes are supposed to help with cleaning, their use can lead to vaginal infections, as it may change the pH in your genital tract. They may also be acting as an irritant when used on the genitals.
4. Practice Good Hygiene
There are numerous ways in which you can do to prevent unwanted vaginal discharge. These include:
- Wash your hands with clean soapy water both before and after placing them in the area of your genitals.
- Wipe from front to back after using the toilet.
- Wear loose fitting clothing, along with underwear made from cotton or other soft fabrics.
- Use non-biological powders when washing your undergarments. Add an extra rinse cycle before completing the wash to ensure that all chemicals and dirt have been removed from the clothing.
Abnormal Discharge During Pregnancy
1. Bacterial Vaginitis
It is a bacterial infection that affects the vagina. The infection is caused by Gardnerella, bacteria that present in healthy vaginas, but can multiply and become imbalanced, leading to vaginal discharge that is yellow, grey or green in color. Another indication of vaginitis is a distinctive fishy smell to the discharge. It is important to get treatment if you believe to have developed vaginitis, as it can lead to early labor in pregnant women.
2. Yeast Infection
Yeast infections are typically caused by the use of antibiotics or similar substances that prevent the growth of certain bacteria, leading to the yeast being free to multiply. It is often accompanied by white vaginal discharge that is similar to cottage cheese. Other signs include extreme itchiness of the vaginal area or swelling of the vulva.
3. Sexually Transmitted Disease
Trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted disease, can lead to vaginal discharge that is frothy and has an extremely unpleasant odor that is relatable to the smell of rotten eggs. To avoid this STD, ensure to practice safe sex by using condoms. Seek medical attention if you suspect that you may have a STD.
Although white discharge during pregnancy is very common and is nothing to be worried about, you should speak with your midwife if it is infused with blood, it is of a dark brownish or pinkish color. In most instances, there will be no issue, although this can be an indication of a grave problem, such as a miscarriage.
When to See a Doctor
Although white discharge during pregnancy is highly common, there are instances when it may be wise to visit your doctor. You should schedule a visit to your health care provider if any of the following applies to you:
- You are less than 37 weeks along in your pregnancy and you notice an increase in the volume of discharge or a change in its appearance.
- The discharge is accompanied by pain, itching, soreness or burning.
- Your discharge has a repugnant odor similar to the smell of fish.
- Your discharge is frothy, yellow, red or green in color, along with an unpleasant odor.