Updated: Dec 14, 2022
Reviewed by Dr. Jyothi Ashok [BAMS, Ayurvedic physician, & General physician]
What causes vaginal discharge?
Vaginal discharge is common during pregnancy, and almost all women experience vaginal discharge during pregnancy. White watery discharge per vagina is called leuchorrea. One of the reasons may be pregnancy (pre-menopausal, pre & post monthly cycles) may be the other reasons. Even hormonal imbalance due to stress. *3-5 ml of discharge is normal*
Leukorrhea is a mild, odorless discharge from the vagina that is clear or milky in color. Many people notice that leukorrhea increases during pregnancy, either at the start of pregnancy or as the pregnancy progresses. As your pregnancy progresses, this discharge usually becomes more noticeable, and it could be heaviest at the end of your pregnancy.
In most cases, this discharge is a sign of a healthy vagina. This discharge keeps the vaginal tissues moist and clears the dead cells from the vagina maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in the vagina.
Changes to the cervix during pregnancy also affect vaginal discharge. As the cervix and vaginal wall soften, the body produces excess discharge to help prevent infections. Your baby’s head may also press against the cervix as you near the end of your pregnancy, which often leads to increased vaginal discharge.
Remember this -
Leukorrhea should not smell. It also should not vary in color aside from clear, whitish, or pale yellow. A bad smell, itchiness, burning sensation, or change in color are all indications of infection.
Leukorrhea vaginal discharge usually increases during pregnancy because of the increase in blood flow and increase in the pregnancy hormones like estrogen.
You may notice it throughout your pregnancy, and it tends to increase as the pregnancy progresses.
What to do?
Note: Remember, the vagina is self-cleaning, so no internal cleaning is necessary. In fact, the flow of leukorrhea is doing any cleaning that is needed.
Do not use tampons to absorb the discharge anytime during pregnancy.
Try panty liners or pads to keep yourself comfortable.
Do not clean your vagina, and do not use any soaps or any other washes.
You can clean the vulva area while bathing or showering.
Avoid wearing tight jeans and nylon pantyhose, which can increase the risk of infection.
Avoiding too much sugar in your diet.
When to call your doctor?
The vaginal discharge is accompanied by a bad odor
You have a burning sensation.
Pain while urinating.
Suddenly increased in quantity.
Heavy or thick.
Different colors of vaginal discharge
Clear or milky white - this suggests leukorrhea, which is usually a normal and healthy discharge, especially if it smells mild. any changes in its quantity or consistency may suggest an issue. If you are pregnant but not yet at full term should see a doctor if you experience an increase in clear discharge that leaks continuously or becomes thick and jelly-like.
White and lumpy - Vaginal discharge that is lumpy and either white or off-white, resembling cottage cheese, can indicate a yeast infection.
Green or Yellow - Green or yellow vaginal discharge is not healthy and suggests a sexually transmitted infection
Grey - Grey vaginal discharge may indicate a vaginal infection.
Brown - Discharge is usually brown due to old blood leaving the body, which can be an early symptom of pregnancy. Brown discharge during pregnancy is not generally a cause for concern. Pregnant women who experience dark brown discharge should contact their doctor.
Pink - Pink discharge during pregnancy may or may not be normal. If you are seeing this, contact your doctor.
Red - Red vaginal discharge during pregnancy requires the immediate attention of a doctor, especially if the bleeding is heavy, contains clots, or occurs alongside cramping and abdominal pain.
Thrush during pregnancy
Thrush is an infection that can cause unusual vaginal discharge. It causes increased vaginal discharge which is usually white (like cottage cheese), does not usually smell, and itching and irritation around the vagina. Contact your healthcare provider for treatment.
Do not use wipes or douches, your vagina is self-cleaning. Any kind of cleaning inside the vagina can alter the pH levels and can cause infection. Your vagina has good bacteria too, and this kind of cleaning can harm them and is more prone to infections.
How to Differentiate between Vaginal Discharge, Urine, or Bleeding?
It may be difficult at times to differentiate these symptoms. If you are unsure whether you have a heavy vaginal discharge, stress urinary incontinence, or are leaking amniotic fluid, put on a sanitary pad to check on the discharge. Consult your doctor as soon as you can.
Vaginal discharge during pregnancy
Vaginal discharge during pregnancy - what is normal?
Vaginal discharge during pregnancy - color and meaning