Vaginal discharge is common among all women, regardless of whether they are pregnant or not. It is a natural process that begins a couple of years before puberty and lasts until menopause. There may be an increase in the milky white coloured discharge during pregnancy due to high oestrogen levels. Since the amount and type of discharge vary from time to time, women find it difficult to differentiate between normal and abnormal pregnancy discharge.
Pregnancy also causes various changes in vaginal discharge, such as its colour, texture, and volume. A woman’s body goes through all sorts of surprising and unexpected changes during pregnancy, and it is the woman’s responsibility to be aware of it.
Most people experience mild-smelling or odourless milky white, thin to thick mucus-like discharge, which is called leukorrhea, even before pregnancy. The discharge volume just increases during pregnancy due to higher oestrogen levels, which is expected and perfectly normal. This increase should not be a concern as it reduces the risk of vaginal and uterine infections.
The white discharge consists of secretions from the cervix and vagina, old cells, and normal vaginal bacteria. You will probably notice that the vaginal discharge is at its heaviest as you approach labour. The discharge may also look slightly different as it typically contains sticky and jelly-like pink mucus.
There are various signs and symptoms that can hint towards an abnormal vaginal pregnancy discharge. It is recommended to contact your doctor or midwife immediately if;
* You experience a sudden increase in the amount of discharge or see a difference in the colour of discharge before you are 37 weeks along.
* One should look out for continuously leaking clear and watery fluid as it can signify that you’re in preterm labour.
* Your white discharge is causing pain during urination or intercourse. If you also suffer from inflammation, soreness, itching, or burning, it could suggest that you have a yeast infection.
* Green vaginal discharge and redness or irritation in the genital areas can indicate chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and other sexually transmitted infections(STIs) and need immediate medical attention.
* A fishy smell from your genitals, especially after intercourse, might be suggestive of a condition called bacterial vaginosis.
* Red coloured discharge accompanied by painful cramps during pregnancy is the most dangerous symptom and requires a visit to the doctor.
While doctors often prescribe medications like antibiotics to deal with abnormal pregnancy discharge, there are other ways that a woman can take care of her vaginal health during pregnancy. These include;
* Use sanitary pads instead of using tampons
* Do not wear tight jeans and uncomfortable clothes that increase the risk of infection
* Wear pads to deal with the vaginal discharge
* Avoid wearing scented personal hygiene products as they can cause irritation
* Never wash your genital area from back to front
* Eat a healthy diet
* Dry your private parts after showering
It is never advisable to wait too long before visiting a doctor if you experience any discomfort during pregnancy. You should immediately consult your doctor if you notice an increase in vaginal discharge.
Sometimes, it becomes difficult to determine if the symptoms hint towards a severe problem, but you should not take irritation, itching, or even burning sensation in your genitals during pregnancy lightly. If you observe any unusual symptoms, do not take any medications without your doctor’s advice. Instead, you should see a professional for a proper diagnosis and the right treatment.