Many pregnant women, especially first-time mothers, tend to worry when they notice the presence of vaginal discharge during pregnancy. However, it is actually completely normal. Vaginal discharge is a natural secretion produced by the vagina with the aim of cleaning, moisturizing and protecting the area from possible infections, so it is not only common but also beneficial. Of course, not all women experience it the same as it tends to vary in quantity and appearance, depending on hormonal changes.
Vaginal discharge, also known as leukorrhea, accompanies women throughout their lives, even during pregnancy. In fact, did you know that a profuse vaginal discharge is often one of the first symptoms of pregnancy ? It usually tends to become more abundant one to two weeks after conception due to increased blood supply to the cervix. In most cases, this flow is usually maintained throughout the pregnancy, without this meaning that there is a problem.
What distinguishes “normal” vaginal discharge during pregnancy?
Vaginal discharge during pregnancy is usually clear and transparent, although it can sometimes turn whitish or even acquire a slightly pink color by the end of pregnancy. It is usually odourless, but in certain women or for a few moments it can give off a mild odor caused by the bacteria that make up the intestinal flora.
Unlike other stages, vaginal discharge during pregnancy is usually much more abundant. It is a protection mechanism to reduce the risk of vaginal and uterine infections that can affect the fetus. It also has a sticky texture and jelly-like consistency, especially as labor approaches.
When should I be concerned about vaginal discharge during pregnancy?
Changes in the color, consistency, or volume of vaginal discharge during pregnancy could be a sign of a possible infection or a more serious problem. For this reason, experts recommend keeping an eye out for these variations and going to the doctor if you detect a sudden change in the characteristics of cervical mucus.
For example, a normal vaginal discharge that suddenly increases in volume could indicate preterm labor, while white, clumpy mucus with a texture similar to cottage cheese may be an indicator of a possible yeast infection, especially if it is accompanied by itching, burning and pain during urination. Other changes you should be aware of are:
1. Green or yellow coloring
A vaginal discharge that turns greenish or yellowish suggests the presence of a sexually transmitted infection, such as trichomoniasis or chlamydia. Often, this change in color is accompanied by redness, irritation and discomfort in the genitals.
2. Grayish coloration
A gray vaginal discharge can be a sign of a vaginal infection known as bacterial vaginosis. This infection that occurs due to an imbalance in the intestinal flora, is also characterized by the presence of a strong fishy smell.
3. Brown coloring
A brown vaginal mucus usually indicates the presence of “old” blood, which usually dates back to the time of implantation. However, if the coloration is very dark, it could be due to a possible hemorrhage, so it is advisable to go for a check-up.
4. Pink coloring
Pink vaginal discharge is common during the early and later weeks of pregnancy. However, it can also be a sign of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or vaginal infection, in which case it is recommended to see your doctor.
5. Red coloring
The presence of a red vaginal discharge requires an immediate visit to the doctor, especially if it has an intense red color and is accompanied by clots, cramps or abdominal pain. This symptom can be due to the implantation process , but also due to an unintentional miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
Other secretions during pregnancy that you should not confuse with vaginal discharge
Often, many new women tend to confuse vaginal mucus with other secretions typical of the last period of pregnancy, such as the mucous plug or amniotic fluid. However, although they can sometimes have very similar characteristics, it is important to learn to differentiate them to prevent possible complications.
As its name indicates, the mucous plug is a kind of plug that forms during the early stages of pregnancy to prevent infections from entering the uterus and is expelled in the final stage. It is usually transparent with a yellowish hue like vaginal discharge, but it has a more jelly-like, stringy and sticky appearance and is usually expelled all at once. Sometimes, it may contain a trickle of blood or take on a brownish hue, which is more common after having a contraction.
In the same way, some women may suffer from amniotic fluid loss and confuse it with vaginal discharge, especially in the final stage of pregnancy. In this case, it is easier to identify since, being more liquid, amniotic fluid is more similar to urine. It is usually odorless and light in color, but can also contain mucous or streaks of blood. In the event that the baby has defecated in the womb, this liquid may turn yellowish brown or acquire a greenish tint, in which case it is recommended to go to the doctor immediately.
What to do in the face of changes in vaginal discharge during pregnancy?
Slight changes in the texture, amount or color of vaginal discharge during pregnancy are usually common, therefore, specialists recommend keeping a record of these changes for several days to assess whether they improve, persist or worsen. However, if you notice a very marked change, such as the presence of blood or a brown or greenish hue, it is advisable to see a doctor to diagnose the possible cause.
To prevent these problems and keep your vagina healthy, it is recommended to wash the genitals with mild soap and water at least once a day, avoiding douching. Likewise, it is advised not to use vaginal deodorants, take scented bubble baths, use tampons or use fragranced wipes. Instead, wearing cotton underwear and drying the genital area well after bathing can help.