If you are pregnant, chances are, 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 or leukorrhea is one of the first pregnancy symptoms you may notice.
A thin, white, milky, mild smelling 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 (1).
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 (2). In the meanwhile, read this post to learn why the vividly colored vaginal discharge occurs.
Different 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.
You may also notice an increase in vaginal discharge in the third trimester, especially as you near the due date. When you are nearing birth, vaginal discharge may contain streaks of thick mucus and some blood, known as a show, and this can begin a few days before labor (3).
Here are some of the different types of vaginal discharge that you may experience while you are pregnant:
1. Yellow Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy:
Here are a few reasons why you may notice a yellow-colored discharge from your vagina while you are pregnant (4):
- Yellow discharge from your vagina, especially while you are pregnant, could be a sign of an infection (2).
- The neutrophils, a type of white blood cells, are present near your vaginal area and can result in the yellowish color that you may see in your vaginal discharge.
- Once your infection turns severe, the yellowish tint from the vaginal discharge may turn into a yellowish-greenish discharge, and then to an outright green vaginal discharge.
- Sometimes, you may notice a yellowish discharge on your underwear after you have taken it off. This could be the vaginal discharge, which is usually white, has turned yellow after coming into contact with air, and become dry.
- The yellow discharge during pregnancy could also be due to an infection known as bacterial vaginosis. It is also referred to as vaginal bacteriosis and is one of the most common infections in the vaginal area in women who are in fertile age. While the condition mostly develops after having sexual relations, it is not categorized as a sexually transmitted infection or STI (5).
2. Green Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy:
Here are a few reasons you may notice a green discharge during pregnancy (4):
- Seeing a green vaginal discharge during your pregnancy could be a little daunting, and it is something you should also be careful about. If you do notice a green color in your vaginal discharge while you are pregnant, make sure you speak to your doctor about it immediately. The green color is often an indicator if an infection (2).
- If you see a greenish vaginal discharge while you are pregnant, take a look and see if the green color is present throughout the discharge or if it is only in a few spots.
- When you have any vaginal infection or an infection that may be present near your vaginal area, the neutrophils start multiplying. During an infection, these white blood 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 (6).
- If you notice a strong, foul smell that accompanies your green vaginal discharge, it may indicate a case of trichomoniasis. The other symptoms that you will notice in this case are yellowish and greenish discharge, and the texture will be a little bubbly or frothy. Trichomoniasis is a type of parasitic infection, and in most cases, affects your vaginal area, the urinary tract, or even your digestive system (7).
- Another possible reason that could lead to a greenish vaginal discharge is a condition known as gonorrhea. It is a type of venereal disease in which you experience vaginal discharge that may appear a little frothy. Gonorrheal infections should be treated during pregnancy, since it may cause infection to the newborn during vaginal delivery and may lead to complications such as blindness, blood infection, or joint infections (8).
3. Pink Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy:
Here are a few reasons you may notice a pink discharge from your vagina while you are pregnant. Pink discharge from the vagina can be alarming, and you should contact your doctor (1) :
- Sometimes, you notice a pinkish tint to your vaginal discharge, and it can either be completely pink, dark pink, or pale pink.
- In most cases, the pink in the discharge could be due to small amounts of blood mixed in the white discharge.
- The vaginal discharge could be tinged with blood and may have the type of color that you notice almost towards the end of your menstrual period when the blood flow is at its last phase.
- One of the first times when you will most likely notice a pinkish discharge from your vagina after you have become pregnant is at the earliest days after you have conceived. It is most likely a case of implantation bleeding.
Once you conceive, the egg that is fertilized makes its journey towards your womb and implants itself there, resulting in a little amount of bleeding. The pinkish discharge that you see at this time is the little bleeding that gets mixed with your regular white vaginal discharge and makes it pink (9).
- Towards the last few weeks or days of your pregnancy, you may notice the pink vaginal discharge again. If it also has a thick consistency and has a texture like that of mucus, it could be a sign that your labor is due any time now and could be nearer than you realize (3).
- Sometimes, a pink discharge during pregnancy could also point towards a severe infection in the vaginal area or your uterus.
- In some cases, a pinkish discharge from your vagina, while you are pregnant, could also mean that there has been a miscarriage. Sometimes, a silent miscarriage or a missed miscarriage could be the reason. It means that even though the fetus is not alive anymore, the body is not able to realize the same and continues to behave as if the pregnancy is still on.
In such cases, the body is not able to remove the pregnancy tissue from its system. In such a situation, the placenta will still keep releasing the hormones that are related to pregnancy, which is why all the symptoms of pregnancy, such as nausea, dizziness, distaste towards food, and such may still be present (9).
- Another reason that could lead to the pinkish discharge from your vagina, while you are pregnant, is a case of ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is a type of pregnancy in which the fetus, instead of growing inside the womb, starts to develop outside the womb. In most cases of an ectopic pregnancy, the fetus starts to develop in the fallopian tube. It is a very serious condition that can be dangerous for the mother to be (9).
- If you notice a pinkish discharge from your vagina towards the end of your pregnancy, it could also be because of abruptio placentae or placental abruption. It is a situation where the placenta separates from the uterine wall before the baby is born. Vaginal bleeding is one of the signs of placental abruption.
- Another reason that you could notice pink vaginal discharge is the presence of vaginal warts, also known as genital warts, caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). A wart is a type of 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 pale, pink, brown, or foul-smelling discharge (10).
When Should You Call Your Doctor?
While it is normal to have vaginal discharge while you are pregnant, there are certain situations that may require immediate medical attention. Here are a few such situations that you should take note of and make sure to call your healthcare provider to understand what needs to be done (2):
- You may notice an increase in your vaginal discharge, which could be watery, more like mucus in texture, or could also have very prominent spots of blood present in it. The vaginal discharge could also be slightly tinged with blood, making it look more pinkish than white or red. Sometimes, it could also be a dark brownish color that looks more like dried blood. If you have not yet reached the 37th week of your pregnancy, it could mean that you are about to enter into premature labor. Call your healthcare provider and inform about the same.
- You could have a simple white discharge from the vagina that does not have any odor but feels very uncomfortable. You might have pain while you urinate, and during sexual intercourse, you may also experience some pain, soreness, and tenderness around your vaginal area. In some cases, you may notice that the opening of your vagina has inflammation and may look red. If you notice these signs and symptoms, it could mean that you have a yeast infection. Make sure you speak to your doctor.
- If the discharge points towards a type of vaginal infection that is known as bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis. Make sure you stop any sexual activity for the time being and speak to your doctor about it first.
Taking Care Of Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy:
Vaginal discharge is extremely common and even normal during the time that you are pregnant, but there is no doubt that it can be very uncomfortable and may also feel very unhygienic. If you want to make things a little bit more comfortable for yourself and also want to ensure that you do not have the risk of catching any infection, or recurrent vaginal thrush, try out the following tips that could be helpful (11):
- In case of a normal discharge from your vagina, you may want to use a panty liner if you feel the flow is quite heavy and regularly soils your underpants. Using a panty liner will help to absorb the discharge without letting it stain or spoil your clothes.
- Instead of a panty liner, you could also use a regular sanitary pad if you feel you are more comfortable using the same. Make sure that you regularly change the sanitary pad, even if you feel that it is not completely soaked. Do change the pad at least once every four hours to avoid the chance of any possible 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 so that you have a lesser risk of catching an infection, especially when you are pregnant. Make sure that you always keep your genital area clean and especially after each time that you use the toilet. Always remember to wipe from the front to back motion instead of the back to front motion. If you try to clean yourself from the back to front motion, germs from your anal region could come up towards your vaginal area and enter the same, which could lead to a possible infection.
- Wear underpants that are only made out of pure cotton fabric, as these will absorb all 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 and lead to an infection.
- Try to use non-scented soaps instead to keep your vaginal area clean.
No matter the type or color of vaginal discharge you experience while you are pregnant, make sure that you always keep your doctor updated about the same. Also, if you have any concerns or feel any symptoms, such as itching, burning, swelling, redness, or anything else that is mentioned above, immediately speak to your doctor.
Did you experience any changes in your vaginal discharge while you were pregnant? Share your experiences in the comments section below.
2. Vaginal discharge in pregnancy; National Health Service in England, NHS Scotland, NHS Wales, and Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland
3. Vaginal discharge during pregnancy; Healthdirect
4. Vaginal discharge; nidirect; Northern Ireland
5. Vaginal Discharge: Possible Causes; The Cleveland Clinic
6. William M. Nauseef; Myeloperoxidase in human neutrophil host defense
7. ene B. Bishop.; Vaginal Discharge
8. Gonorrhea – CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed Version); The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
9. Vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy; The United States National Library of Medicine
10. HPV – Women’s Health Guide; The United States Department of Veterans Affairs
11. Vaginal thrush during pregnancy; Healthdirect