Yellow Discharge During Pregnancy: Causes And Treatment

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Many women experience yellow discharge during pregnancy due to various reasons. Although vaginal discharge is common in pregnant women, yellow discharge can be concerning. However, hormonal changes may cause slight yellow discharge without other symptoms. Yellow discharge with a peculiar smell or other symptoms may indicate amniotic fluidiXThe clear fluid that surrounds the baby in the uterus. leak or infections. Therefore, it is recommended to seek advice from a doctor to know the exact cause, especially if you are uncertain about the accompanying symptoms.

Read on to know the causes, treatment, and prevention of yellow discharge during pregnancy.

In This Article

Is Yellow Discharge In Pregnancy Normal?

Yellow discharge along with pain while urinating needs medical attention
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You may be wondering what does yellow discharge mean during pregnancy? During pregnancy, it is normal to have thin, milky white, slightly yellow, and mildly odorous discharge, which is also known as leucorrhea. This might increase as the pregnancy progresses, and is usually due to the fluctuating hormones (1).  Also, sometimes, pregnant women might notice clear, pale yellow watery-like discharge with a mild or a sweet smell, which could be leakage of amniotic fluid (2), a possible indication of labor.

But, if you have noticed yellow discharge in early pregnancy accompanied by itchiness, foul odor, soreness, and pain when urinating, then it might indicate an infection. While such symptoms do not necessarily mean a health problem or an infection, it is good to know the reason behind such discharge and address it if necessary.

What Causes Yellow Discharge During Pregnancy?

Dr. Ila Dayananda, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist from Brooklyn, New York, says, “Estrogen plays a central role in the menstrual cycle and reproductive health. Changes in estrogen levels can influence vaginal discharge, but estrogen itself is not a direct cause of yellow discharge. Various factors, including the balance of microorganisms in the vagina, can contribute to the color and texture of the discharge.”

The other possible causes of discharge, especially yellow discharge, are as follows:

  1. Yeast infections: The vagina requires optimal conditions of pH, moisture levels, and bacterial balance to remain healthy. If one of these conditions is disturbed, it could raise the risk of infection. Factors such as increased sexual activity, antibiotics, hormonal imbalances, and douchingiXThe act of cleaning the vagina internally using water or a mixture of other liquids. could cause an overgrowth of bad bacteria.

Candidiasis is a common yeast infection that causes yellow-white discharge along with itchiness, swelling, soreness, redness, and burning sensation during urination (3).

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Yeast infections are more common during the second trimester of pregnancy because there is more sugar in the vaginal secretion, which creates a suitable environment for the yeast to feed (12).
  1. Bacterial vaginosis (BV): It is caused due to a bacterial imbalance. Usually, good bacteria control bad bacteria in the vagina, but when it gets reversed, it might cause BV. It, therefore, results in a yellow or green discharge that is thick and foul-smelling and is associated with vaginal pain and burning sensation (4).
    Bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy is characterized by pain and burning sensation
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  1. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): They are the common causes of abnormal vaginal discharge and pose a risk of other STIs if not treated on time. The major types of STIs include trichomoniasis (5), Chlamydia, and gonorrhea (6). According to surveillance reports by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about 2.5 million cases of chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea, were reported in the US during 2021.
  1. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): When STIs or bacterial infections are left untreated, the infections spread to the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubesiXMuscular, hollow ducts connecting the uterus with the ovaries to transport eggs during ovulation. . As a result, they lead to symptoms such as yellow discharge, pain during pelvic exams, nausea, fatigue, and painful urination (7).

These are the likely reasons for yellowish discharge during pregnancy. Sometimes, you might have the discharge not because of any infection, but because of wearing uncomfortable panties or using unhygienic products too.

But if the discharge is abnormal and you have symptoms such as itchiness, foul odor, and vaginal pain, you should see a doctor. Medical tests help diagnose the condition, and the doctor would suggest the necessary treatment.

While there are many different types of vaginal infections, the graph below indicates the incidence of three common ones among pregnant women, including vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), bacterial vaginosis (BV), and trichomoniasis (TV). As shown in the graph, the prevalence of VVC, BV, and TV among 589 pregnant women was 36.5% (215/589), 30.9% (182/589), and 1.4% (8/589), respectively. Also, the data shows that more than half of the pregnant women had at least one of the three vaginal infections.

Incidence of vaginal infections in pregnant women

Source: Prevalence of vulvovaginal candidiasis, bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis in pregnant women attending antenatal clinic in the middle belt of Ghana; BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth

How Is Yellow Discharge Treated?

The doctor may suggest the treatment based on the underlying symptoms
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Yeast infections are treated with antifungal tablets, creams, ointments, or suppositories. Bacterial and sexually transmitted infections are treated with antibiotics that are considered safe during pregnancy (8).

The duration of the treatment depends on the severity of symptoms. The sooner you receive the treatment, the lesser the possibility of infections that cause complications, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Even as you follow the course of treatment, it is good to take proper pregnancy care at home to deal with the infection as well as prevent it in the future.

protip_icon Research finds
Metronidazole is an effective treatment for trichomoniasis infection during pregnancy, but some studies indicate that it might increase the risk of low birth weight and preterm babies (13).

How To Prevent Yellow Vaginal Discharge?

The following measures help in reducing the discomfort associated with abnormal discharge and also prevent it, promoting good reproductive health (9).

  • Wear panty liners to absorb the discharge and remain dry.

    Panty liners can absorb the vaginal discharge.
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  • Keep the vaginal area healthy by wiping it from front to back after urination and bowel movements.
  • Wash your genitals with mild soap and dry them.
  • Avoid hot bathtubs and douching as it can change the normal bacterial levels and aggravate yeast infections.
  • Avoid scented soaps and toilet paper, hygiene sprays, and tight-fitting panties.
  • Wear cotton and clean panties for extra comfort.
  • Do not use chemicals for washing the area.
  • If the vagina is itchy, control the urge to scratch as it could make the condition worse.

Basic hygiene, plenty of sleep, a healthy diet, and drinking water frequently are good not just for vaginal health but also for your overall health.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does yellow discharge mean miscarriage?

Yes. Yellow discharge could be a sign of bacterial vaginosis, which can increase the risk of miscarriage by twofold if left untreated in the first trimester (10). Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize pregnancy health and seek medical attention if experiencing any concerning symptoms.

2. When should I be worried about discharge during pregnancy?

When pregnant, if you notice that your vaginal discharge is green or yellow, has a different consistency and smell, or your vaginal area is itchy or red, you should contact your obstetrician (11).

3. Will the yellow discharge go away on its own when pregnant?

No. If yellow discharge during pregnancy is caused by increased hormonal levels and without any accompanying symptoms, it may present throughout the pregnancy and not be a cause for concern (1) (14). However, it is important to continue receiving regular prenatal care and to inform your healthcare provider of any unusual changes in discharge or other pregnancy concerns.

Yellow discharge during pregnancy is a common occurrence. However, if it is accompanied by a foul odor, itchiness, or discomfort, you should contact your doctor immediately. If required, yellow discharge may be treated with antifungal tablets, creams, etc., depending on the cause. Keeping your vaginal area clean and healthy, not exposing them to chemicals, wearing panty liners to help absorb the discharge, and keeping the area dry are recommended to prevent infections or complications. However, if you suspect an infection or any other pregnancy complications, consult your gynecologist.

Infographic: Synopsis Of Yellow Discharge During Pregnancy

The fluctuation of hormones can trigger yellow discharge during pregnancy. However, if the discharge is accompanied by itchiness and odor, it could be a sign of infection. Check out the infographic below to know:

  • The reasons for the condition
  • Ways to prevent it
prevention of yellow discharge during pregnancy (Infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Yellow discharge with a characteristic odor in pregnancy might primarily indicate infections.
  • Ensure adequate personal hygiene and avoid douching to reduce the chances of developing the condition.
  • Talk to your obstetrician if you are concerned about yellow discharge in pregnancy to comprehend the reasons and get timely medical care.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

1. Somia Gul, et al.; Women facing heavy vaginal discharge (leucorrhea) by virtue of unhealthy lifestyle; International Research Journal of Pharmacy
2. Signs of labor; American Pregnancy Association
3. L Renee Watson et al.; Yeast infection; University of Rochester Medical Center
4. Vaginal Discharge; Family (2014)
5. Trichomoniasis – CDC fact sheet; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017)6. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis; The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2016)
7. Vaginal infections & PID; Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation
8. Sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and breastfeeding; Office on Women’s Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2019)
9. Genital and reproductive health; Princeton University
10. Gözde Işik et al.; Bacterial vaginosis in association with spontaneous abortion and recurrent pregnancy losses; Journal of Cytology (2016)
11. Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy; American Pregnancy Association
12. Yeast Infections During Pregnancy; American Pregnancy Association
13. A Metin Gülmezoglu et al.; Interventions for trichomoniasis in pregnancy; Cochrane Library (2011)
14. Discharge During Pregnancy: What’s Normal?; Lamaze International

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