A healthy vaginal discharge is clear or milky white and odorless (or with a mild odor). The varying amount of vaginal discharge depends on whether you are menstruating, pregnant, or going through menopause or late menopause. (1) (2). Increased estrogen levels may cause watery discharge during pregnancy, although this is not worrisome. However, if there are any color changes and a foul smell or other symptoms, it can be concerning (3).
Read on to learn more about watery discharge while pregnant, why it happens and how to manage it.
What Is Watery Discharge During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, as your body is preparing to accommodate your baby, your cervix and the vaginal walls soften from enhanced estrogen levels. This leads to increased blood flow in the pelvic region, especially in the uterus and uterus cervix, where endocervical glands produce watery discharge. Pregnant women are more prone to infections. The increased watery discharge can protect the vagina from viruses and bacteria. It clears out the dead cells in the vagina (3).
This discharge might get heavier with the advance of your pregnancy, and you may even confuse it with urine. However, understand that it is normal.
How Does A Watery Discharge Appear?
During pregnancy, the watery discharge appears clear or milky white, with a thin consistency, and is called physiologic leucorrhea. The discharge may either have a mild smell or no odor and resembles the vaginal discharge that you have before your periods. You might feel it in your underwear (5).
Is Having A Watery Discharge During Pregnancy Normal?
Having a watery discharge during pregnancy is a normal occurrence and rarely a cause of concern. Towards the end of your third trimester, the watery discharge increases and may also include blood and mucus called a ‘show.’ This indicates your body is going into labor within a few days (5) (6).
What Are The Causes Of Watery Discharge In Pregnancy?
When you’re pregnant, you may experience watery discharge due to (4):
- Pregnancy-related changes in the vagina and cervix
- Increased estrogen levels
- Rupture of the amniotic sac (water breaking) at the beginning of or during labor (6)
- Amniotic fluid leakage or premature rupture of membranes (PROM) (7)
When Is Watery Discharge A Sign Of Concern?
If you have a vaginal discharge other than clear, milky or thin, it could cause concern. The associated symptoms and unusual changes may need a doctor’s attention (4).
- Foul or strong, fishy smell
- Vaginal itchiness or soreness
- Burning sensation
- Change in the color of vaginal discharge to yellow, brown, pink, curdy white, or any other color
- Change in the consistency of the discharge
These symptoms and changes could indicate vaginal infections, including bacterial infection (vaginosis), parasitic infection (trichomoniasis), yeast infection (candidiasis), or sexually transmitted infection. Since these infections can cause various pregnancy complications, ensure to consult your doctor as soon as you notice any of these symptoms (8).
You should also seek immediate medical care if you observe a heavy gush of watery fluid at the end of your pregnancy (i.e., water breaking) (6).
A clear watery discharge with cramps in the lower abdomen also necessitates medical intervention as it could signify pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or the onset of early labor (9).
How To Manage Watery Discharge When Pregnant?
Since watery discharge during pregnancy is not a cause of concern, it requires no treatment prevention. However, the following measures can help prevent heavy and abnormal watery discharge during pregnancy (10) (11):
- Wear cotton underpants, panty liners, or pads as per your convenience (5)
- Avoid wearing tight clothing, such as tight pants or bikini shorts, for a longer time
- Wipe your butt from front to back after the toilet use
- If you have irritation in your genital area, change your detergent
- Avoid hot tubs and feminine hygiene sprays, as these can cause irritation
- Maintain good hygiene by taking a bath everyday
- Avoid using tampons and douching as they may introduce unwanted germs
- Some birth control measures can also irritate some women; therefore, consult your health care provider if you notice any such symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is watery discharge in early pregnancy an indication of miscarriage?
No. The watery discharge during early pregnancy does not indicate a miscarriage. Instead, it shows that your vagina is healthy, and the increased estrogen levels are sufficient to stimulate increased watery discharge to protect the vagina from the entry of pathogens.
2. Is excessive watery discharge a sign that my water broke or I am leaking amniotic fluid?
Excessive or heavy watery discharge at the end of the third trimester could mean that your water broke and you’re going into labor or leaking amniotic fluid prematurely (PROM). The Ph level of the water is also vital. If the Ph is not acidic, a pregnant woman has to communicate with a doctor or go to the nearest hospital soon.
3. What does a lot of clear watery discharge mean during pregnancy?
A lot of clear watery discharge in pregnancy could mean hormonal fluctuations in pregnant women and not a cause of worry.
Watery discharge during pregnancy is a typical occurrence caused due to physiologic changes and increased estrogen levels. Additionally, the vaginal discharge increases with the pregnancy advancement up to the last trimester. So, do not worry, but if you see any changes in your vaginal discharge, such as a change in odor, color, and other symptoms, contact your healthcare provider. Moreover, maintaining personal hygiene and avoiding feminine hygiene products can help prevent vaginal infections during pregnancy.
- A healthy and clean vaginal discharge is clear and white, and the amount differs for menstruating, pregnant, or menopausal women.
- Changes in the cervix and vagina, as well as an increase in estrogen levels, can cause more watery discharge during pregnancy.
- The watery discharge may contain mucus and blood at the end of the third trimester, indicating nearing labor.
- A possible vaginal infection is indicated by a change in color and odor of vaginal discharge.
- Sailan-ur- Rahem (Leucorrhoea).
- Gene B. Bishop; (1990); Clinical Methods: The History Physical and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition.
- Hormonal health – clues made clear.
- Vaginal discharge during pregnancy.
- Vaginal discharge during pregnancy: your questions answered.
- Labor and delivery.
- Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (PPROM).
- National Guideline Alliance (UK); (2021); Management of symptomatic vaginal discharge in pregnancy: Antenatal care: Evidence review T. London: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).
- Vaginal Discharge.
- Premature rupture of membranes.