Vaginal discharge is as common in pregnancy as it is during the other times. Having vaginal discharge or leucorrhea, white or clear, thin and with a mild odor, is normal.
But sometimes, the discharge changes in color, gets heavier or smells different. While it does not necessarily mean a health problem or an infection, it is good to know the reason behind such discharge and address it if necessary.
The vaginal discharge may be of different colors such as brown, pink, green and yellow. In this MomJunction post, we tell you about having yellow discharge during pregnancy, its causes, treatment, and prevention. In the end, we also answer some frequently asked questions.
Is Yellow Discharge In Pregnancy Normal?
Vaginal discharge, which is slightly yellow without itching and odor, is normal. But if it is accompanied by itchiness, foul odor, soreness, and pain when urinating or pelvic pain, it could indicate an infection (1).
If you suspect an infection, check with your doctor to understand the nature of the discharge and the cause behind it.
What Causes Yellow Discharge During Pregnancy?
Vaginal discharge during pregnancy occurs due to increased estrogen levels. The other possible causes of discharge, especially yellow discharge, are as follows:
- 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 douching could cause 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 (2).
- Bacterial vaginosis (BV): It is caused due to a bacterial imbalance. Usually, good bacteria control bad bacteria in the vagina, but when it reverses, it results in 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 (3).
- 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 (4), Chlamydia and gonorrhea (5).
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): When STIs or bacterial infections are left untreated, the infections spread to the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. As a result, they lead to symptoms such as yellow discharge, pain during pelvic exams, nausea, fatigue and painful urination (6).
These are the likely reasons for yellow discharge during pregnancy. Sometimes, you might have the discharge not because of any infection but on 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.
How Is Yellow Discharge Treated?
Yeast infections are treated with anti-fungal tablets, creams, ointments or suppositories. Bacterial and sexual transmitted infections are treated with antibiotics such as metronidazole or tinidazole (7).
The duration of the treatment depends on the severity of symptoms. The sooner you receive the treatment, the lesser is the possibility of infections causing complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Even as you follow the course of treatment, it is good to take proper care at home to deal with the infection as well as prevent it in the future.
How To Prevent Yellow Vaginal Discharge?
The following measures help in reducing the discomfort associated with abnormal discharge and also prevent it (8).
- Wear panty liners to absorb the discharge and remain dry.
- 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.
- Stay away from stress by practicing yoga and meditation.
Basic hygiene, plenty of sleep, healthy diet, and drinking water frequently are good not just for vaginal health but also for your overall health.
Next, we address some common queries that our readers have on yellow discharge during pregnancy.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is yellow discharge a sign of miscarriage?
In some cases, where the miscarriage happens due to a vaginal infection, there is a possibility of yellow to grey discharge with a fishy odor (9).
2. Is yellow discharge normal in the first trimester of pregnancy?
The high production of estrogen levels in the early weeks of pregnancy is likely to cause yellow discharge in some cases. It is usually sticky and odorless.
3. Is yellow discharge a sign of pregnancy?
In some cases, you will notice pale-yellow discharge that is sticky and odorless. It could be regarded as an early sign of pregnancy (10).
4. Is white-yellow discharge during pregnancy normal?
White-yellow discharge is normal during pregnancy as long as it odorless and does not cause itching or burning sensation.
5. Can thick yellow discharge with foul smell be a symptom of a disease?
A thick yellow discharge with strong foul smell could indicate an infection such as a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis or STIs.
Most women have vaginal discharge during pregnancy. Therefore, you should identify the unusual kind. Do not wait to see a doctor if you suspect vaginal infection. Slightly yellow or clear or white without any odor or itching is normal. If the yellow discharge is longer and associated with smell, itchiness, etc., you should consult your doctor.
If you any experiences to share, let us know about them in the comments section below.
2. L Renee Watson et al.; Yeast infection; University of Rochester Medical Center
3. Bacterial vaginosis (Gardnerella Vaginitis); Harvard Health Publishing (2016)
4. Trichomoniasis – CDC fact sheet; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017)
5. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis; The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2016)
6. Vaginal infections & PID; Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation
7. Treatments for specific types of sexually transmitted diseases and sexually transmitted infections (STDs/ STIs); NIH
8. Genital and reproductive health; Princeton University
9. Sevi Giakoumelou1 et al.; The role of infection in miscarriage; Human Reproduction Update, Vol.22, No.1 pp. 116–133, 2016
10. Pregnancy planner: essential advice for moms-to-be; Page 100