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White discharge during pregnancy

How to deal with white discharge during pregnancy

Vaginal discharge is the fluid made by the vagina and cervix that helps to keep your vagina moist and clean. It also helps to protect you from infection. You may have more vaginal discharge than usual when you become pregnant. But a change in your vaginal discharge could be a sign of something that needs treatment. It’s important to know what’s normal, and when to get medical help. Do not spray water into your vagina or use scented or harsh products while pregnant. It’s not safe to use tampons during pregnancy.

Types of Vaginal Discharge

Normal Vaginal Discharge: Leucorrhoea

Leucorrhoea is a normal part of pregnancy and happens to many women. In fact, this is the same white discharge you might have seen before your periods. The only difference is this time it is thicker and more in amount.

Leucorrhoea is a thick white discharge. It is made up of secretions from the cervix and vagina. When pregnant, the estrogen production in your body increases causing a greater flow of blood to your vagina. More mucus is produced from your cervix glands as a result. This then comes out of your vagina as a white discharge. This white discharge is important because it helps protect the foetus.

 Don’t worry about your vaginal discharge if it:

  • is clear or white in colour
  • has a mild smell (but doesn’t have a strong or unpleasant smell)
  • is sticky or slippery and wet

Vaginal discharge in the 3rd trimester

Towards the end of your pregnancy, your vaginal discharge may increase again. This is normal but doesn’t happen to everyone.

By the last few days of your pregnancy, it may have a thicker more mucous or gel-like consistency.

A ‘show’ as your body prepares for birth

Many pregnant women experience a ‘show’ in the last few days of their pregnancy. This is where you notice you have some vaginal discharge. It’s generally creamy white and splashed with a pink jelly-like material.

This happens when the mucus that has been present at the neck of your womb (cervix) comes away. This is a sign that your body is preparing for birth. Some women have several shows before they go into labour.

If you have a show, you should contact your obstetrician immediately if:

  • you are less than 37 weeks pregnant
  • the mucus is bright red and there is more than a small amount of bleeding from your vagina

Things you can do that might help

  • Don’t douche or use tampons
  • Use water or aqueous cream to wash your genitals – if you are using aqueous cream be careful not to slip, as it can make your bath or shower slippery
  • Pat your genitals dry after showering, bathing or swimming
  • Wear underwear from breathable fabrics like cotton

When to get medical help

Visit your gynaecologist/obstetrician if you show any of the below symptoms:

  • Bleeding from your vagina

Get medical advice immediately. In early pregnancy, this could be a sign of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. In later pregnancy, this could be a sign of a problem with your placenta.

  • Unpleasant or unusual smell from vaginal discharge

Get medical advice – within the next day. This could be a sign of an infection like bacterial vaginosis.

  • Change in colour of discharge 

Seek medical advice asap. This could be a sign of infection like bacterial vaginosis or an STI (sexually transmitted infection).

  • Itching around the vagina or feeling uncomfortable

Mention this at your next appointment or sooner if you can’t wait that long. This could be a sign of thrush.

  • Pain or blood while passing the urine

If you experience vaginal itching and a burning sensation during urination along with a thick, white discharge resembling cottage cheese, then it might be the sign of a yeast infection in your vagina Get medical advice as soon as possible. This could be a sign of a urine infection.

  • Bacterial Vaginosis

As the name suggests, Bacterial Vaginosis is caused by an imbalance in the normal bacteria existing in a woman’s vagina. It is unclear what causes the imbalance. It is a serious concern during pregnancy. It leads to an increased risk of preterm birth or miscarriage and thus needs immediate medical attention.


There could be numerous possible causes of having white discharge during pregnancy. Most of the time it is normal, but it could also indicate something serious. So, don’t keep your concerns to yourself and come for a check-up.

Author: Dr Astha Dayal
Dr. Astha Dayal is an esteemed obstetrician and gynaecologist in Gurgaon. She cleared her MRCOG certification in London, UK, and is a member of the Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India. She has over 16 years of experience in the medical and surgical management of women’s health with an emphasis on high-risk pregnancies as well as advanced laparoscopy.