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White discharge during pregnancy: Should I be worried?

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Pregnancy will bring about a rollercoaster of emotions. You will feel happy, teary, excited and anxious, all at once. But emotions are not all that is pregnancy about. Your body will experience tremendous variations of physical changes and as an expectant mother, these changes can be puzzling at times. One such event that can raise suspicion is white discharge during pregnancy – a sign prevalent in nearly 43% of pregnant women. 

Most women are familiar with the different types of vaginal discharge but what does discharge during pregnancy mean? 

In this article, Dr Astha Dayal – a leading obstetrician in Gurgaon will explore everything there is to know about vaginal discharge during pregnancy and how to deal with it. 

What is white discharge during pregnancy?

As the name denotes, white discharge during pregnancy is a discharge that women experience during their pregnancy. It is thin, white coloured and milky textured. 

With or without pregnancy, vaginal discharge is a common phenomena. Before we move on to discuss milky white discharge during pregnancy, let us understand the concept of normal discharge aka leukorrhea. 

What is leukorrhea?

Leukorrhea is the medical term for vaginal discharge. 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. 

There are different types of vaginal discharges based on their colour, texture or cause. Some common types include – 

  • Clean and watery
  • Clear and stretchy
  • Brown or bloody
  • Yellow or green

The vaginal discharge during pregnancy is known as leukorrhea pregnancy. It is usually odourless or, sometimes, can be smelled mildly. 

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.

If you are a newly pregnant woman, leukorrhea pregnancy discharge will not feel any different from what you experienced between periods. Leukorrhea pregnancy is also considered early pregnancy discharge. You are likely to notice a change in your normal discharge one or two weeks before conception. 

Most women feel an increase in their present discharge which continues to happen throughout the course of pregnancy. The thick white discharge during pregnancy will become more dense as your pregnancy develops. It is, usually, the thickest as your gestation approaches an end. 

Why does leukorrhea happen?

Leukorrhea or vaginal discharge is a normal body function indicating good health. Almost all women experience the passage of vaginal discharge during their reproductive years. There are multiple reasons why leukorrhea happens. 

Primarily, it is your body’s natural way of cleaning the vagina. Through normal body discharge, your body is paving a way for protecting itself against several types of bacteria. Besides its body function, normal vaginal discharge can be caused by bacterial or yeast infection.

Why does leukorrhea pregnancy happen?

However,the reasons for leukorrhea pregnancy can be slightly varying. There are various reason for white discharge during pregnancy (abnormal) that include:

  • Sexually transmitted infections – Gonorrhea and chlamydia are a few STIs that can cause abnormal milky white discharge during pregnancy
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Cervical cancer 
  • Yeast infections: Sometimes, the thick white discharge during pregnancy may be a sign of yeast or fungal infection/ vaginal infection.

Is white discharge in pregnancy normal?

Vaginal discharge is a highly common occurrence. Likewise, in pregnancy white discharge is normal, however, you should keep a track of any abnormal changes. 

As mentioned above, early pregnancy discharge is thin, white and less smelly, if you notice anything atypical or distinct from this description, make it a note to aware your obstetrician about it. 

You can maintain a diary to record the colour, texture and odour changes in your vaginal discharge to avoid any pregnancy complications for yourself and your child. 

When to seek help for abnormal clear discharge during pregnancy?

As we discussed above, leukorrhea is a healthy bodily function. However, it is important to address any atypical signs, especially during pregnancy. 

Now that you know what a healthy leukorrhea pregnancy is like, you would be able to identify abnormal signs. Some common atypical signs to watch out for are:

  • Yellow, gray or green coloured discharge 
  • Excessievly strong and fouly smell
  • Itching and redness on the vulva
  • Fever 
  • Pain in the abdomen 
  • Unexplained and sudden weight loss
  • Fatigue 
  • Bleeding 
  • Increased urination 

A pink or brown coloured discharge may highlight a sign of implantation bleeding. Even light vaginal spotting during pregnancy is not a cause for concern. However, it is ideal to visit your obstetrician for any concerns. 

While trying to conceive, it is advised that you and your partner get tested for STIs to avoid undergoing speculating reason for white discharge during pregnancy. 

Furthermore, an abnormal discharge can be indicative of possible pregnancy complications. You should not be alarmed if you experience any of the above given symptoms. Your healthcare provider is the right person to identify the exact problem and offer appropriate treatment for it. 

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

How to get rid of white discharge during pregnancy?

Despite the fact that it is almost an everyday occurrence, pregnant women may feel irritable due to the presence of constant discharge. The dampness and associated wetness can make a woman highly irritable. However, there are effective ways on how to get rid of white discharge during pregnancy. 

Here are some top home remedies to help you offer relief:

  • Take a bath regularly: Bathing everyday and changing your undergarments is the first step you can take. A fresh bath can instantly clean your genitals and get rid of discharge. Before more of the vaginal discharge gets collected in your undergarments, it might already be the time to take another bath. Furthermore, bathing everyday can avoid accumulation of bacteria and keep infections at bay. 
  • Wear breathable cotton undergarments: Whether you are pregnant or not, the quality of your undergarments can indicate the health of your genitals. If your undergarments are not breathable, the chances of you developing a infection are high. Cotton padded wear are ideal because they absorb excess discharge. Additionally, you should make sure that the other layers of clothing such as your jeans or leggings are comfortable and not extremely tight. 
  • Avoid using any products on your vagina: Do not use any cosmetic or cleansing products on your vagina unless advised by your obstertcian. Such products can further harm your genital area or cause inflammation. 
  • Practice good bathroom hygiene: Your trips to the bathroom are likely to increase during pregnancy. You should make sure to clean your vagina everytime you pass urine. 
  • Eat healthy foodsYour cerival mucus can also be impacted by the type of food items you eat. Do not eat foods that cause inflammation or digestion issues. Despite the food cravings, it is suggested that you keep your sugar intake in control to avoid discharge. Talk to your healthcare provider about which foods are suitable to be eaten in order to avoid the possibility of infections. 

What is the treatment of white discharge during pregnancy?

Sometimes, the above given homes remedies are not effective. If your symptoms are severe and likely to interfere with your health, it is advised that you consult a verified practioner and take an appropriate treatment of white discharge during pregnancy. 

The treatment for leukorrhea pregnancy is unique for each patient. Ideally, it depends upon the reason for white discharge during pregnancy. 

If you have developed a bacterial infection induced by pregnancy, your obesterician will prescribe you relevant antibiotics. On the other hand, if your discharge is caused by sexually transmitted infections, your healthcare provider will aim to treat it in order to alleviate symptoms. 

Your healthcare provider will, first, assess your condition and determine the cause before indicating any treatment. 

The concluding note 

Experiencing white discharge during pregnancy is not alarming. Nevertheless, since you will feel various new symptoms and changes during this time, it is in your best interest to be informed about what they mean. 

To learn more about pregnancy or basic gynaecological health, book an appointment with Dr Astha Dayal – best obstetrician & gynaecologist at the CK Birla Hospital today. 

FAQs

Ques: When should I be worried about discharge during pregnancy?

Ans: White discharge during pregnancy is a normal occurrence. You should, however, seek clinical help if the discharge is yellow, brown, pink or green-coloured, foul smelling, accompanied by fever, abdominal pain and itching. 

Ques: Can white discharge mean miscarriage?

Ans: Milky white discharge during pregnancy is healthy. However, if your vaginal discharge is tinged with blood, you should meet your obsterician immediately. 

Ques: How much white discharge is normal in pregnancy?

Ans: You will experience that the white discharge during pregnancy will increase gradually throughout pregnancy. Increased discharge is normal if it not associated with atypical signs.