What Is Vaginal Discharge?
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Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy- Causes and Management

Published on Feb 22, 2023 and last reviewed on Aug 18, 2023   -  5 min read


A healthy vaginal discharge in pregnancy is clear and thin, and it prevents infections from entering the womb through the vagina.


Vaginal discharge is a normal phenomenon that occurs in the female body. The discharge begins right before puberty and lasts till menopause (end of menstruation period). A discharge tells a lot about the body, like whether an infection is present, whether the person is in their menstrual cycle, and even the levels of dehydration present in a person. The consistency of vaginal discharge changes throughout the menstrual period and during pregnancy. Some people look for changes in vaginal discharge as an early pregnancy sign.

What Is Vaginal Discharge?

Any fluid that the vagina secretes other than urine or menstrual blood is called a vaginal discharge. Discharges can be both healthy and unhealthy.

What Is the Difference Between a Healthy Discharge and an Unhealthy Discharge?

  • Healthy Vaginal Discharge - A healthy vaginal discharge is clear and thin with a milky white appearance and has a mild yet inoffensive odor.

  • Unhealthy Vaginal Discharge - An unhealthy vaginal discharge is foul-smelling and has greenish-yellowish discoloration with a lumpy consistency. Harmful discharges often accompany vaginal itching, and pain occurs during urination. In addition, harmful discharges often indicate an infection.

What Does Pregnancy Discharge Look Like?

Pregnancy increases the number of vaginal discharges. A healthy vaginal discharge during pregnancy is called leukorrhea. It is thin, milky white, or clear and has a very mild odor or no odor.

What Are the Changes in the Vaginal Discharge That Occur During Pregnancy?

Vaginal discharge increases slightly during the early period of pregnancy. This increase is because of the rise in estrogen levels during pregnancy. The raised estrogen level causes the body to produce more vaginal discharge, thereby increasing the blood flow to the vagina and uterus. In the first trimester of pregnancy, the discharges remove bacteria from the uterus. The increase in vaginal discharges is not noticeable until the eighth week of pregnancy. This discharge also forms a mucus plug, which blocks the cervix opening and protects the fetus from external infections traveling to the uterus from the cervix. The vaginal discharge increases gradually as the pregnancy progresses. A pregnant person will experience vaginal discharge up until the delivery of the child. During the last weeks of pregnancy, vaginal discharges may contain streaks of sticky or jelly-like pink mucus. This is called a “show” and is a sign that the body is starting to prepare for birth.

What Does the Brown or Pink Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy Indicate?

Pinkish or brownish vaginal discharge may occur during pregnancy. It could appear as light spots or streaks of color on the underwear. Light bleeding could indicate spotting. Some of the common causes of discharge include:

  • Implantation - A small amount of pink or brown discharge or spotting can be seen during the beginning stages of pregnancy around the time the menstrual period is due. This is a sign of implantation. Implantation occurs when the embryo implants into the uterine lining about ten days after fertilization.

  • Vaginal Examinations or Sexual Inter Course - A brown or pink discharge is noted following vaginal examination or intercourse. The cervix and vagina can get easily irritated during pregnancy due to increased blood flow, causing pink discharges.

  • Vigorous Exercise - Strenuous exercise can cause spotting at any point during the pregnancy. As long as it does not progress towards bleeding, spotting is an indication to ease up on exercise. Exercise is usually considered safe for a healthy pregnancy. Working out or exercising does not increase any risk of miscarriages, low birth weight, or early delivery.

  • Bloody Show - By the end of pregnancy, the mucus plug slowly breaks down when the cervix dilates and comes out in large clumps, small bits, or a streak. This makes the vaginal discharge appear pinkish or brownish. Not every pregnant woman experiences a bloody show. This can happen hours, days, or weeks before the actual labor begins.

What Factors Cause Changes in the Vaginal Discharges?

Factors like infections or sexually transmitted infections change and affect vaginal discharges. Some of them include the following:

  • Preterm Labor - Before 37 weeks, an increase in the amount of vaginal discharge or a change in the type or consistency of the discharge indicates that the pregnant person is in preterm labor. There will also be continuous leakage of clear and watery fluid.

  • Candidiasis - Candidiasis or thrush is a fungal infection commonly occurring during pregnancy. It is associated with soreness, burning or itching, and pain during intercourse or urination. Vaginal discharge seen in candidiasis is thick and chunky similar to the appearance of cottage cheese.

  • Bacterial Vaginosis - Bacterial vaginosis is a type of vaginal inflammation that is caused due to overgrowth of natural bacteria found in the vaginal area. Vaginal discharge in bacterial vaginosis has a fishy odor with a thin gray or white discoloration (more noticeable after sex when the discharge mixes with the semen).

  • Trichomoniasis - Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a protozoan parasite called the trichomonas vaginalis. Vaginal discharge in trichomoniasis has a greenish or yellowish appearance and an unpleasant odor with a frothy consistency. Some symptoms of trichomoniasis are irritated, reddish, and itchy vaginal areas with discomfort during urination or intercourse.

  • Chlamydia or Gonorrhea - Chlamydia and gonorrhea are sexually transmitted infections that often occur together. The overgrowth of chlamydia trachomatis bacteria causes chlamydia., An overgrowth of a Neisseria gonorrhea bacteria causes gonorrhea. An increased vaginal discharge is noted in these conditions and is accompanied by pelvic pain or bleeding.

  • Genital Herpes - Herpes simplex virus (HPV) causes sexually transmitted infection called genital herpes. They cause sores and painful blisters that break open and ooze fluid. In these conditions, an increased discharge is noted from the blisters or sores.

What Kind of Vaginal Changes Should Be Notified to the Doctor?

If any vaginal bleeding is noted, the doctor should be immediately notified. Vaginal bleeding is a sign of miscarriage or problems in the placenta. The doctor should also be notified of conditions like greenish or brownish vaginal discharge, bloody discharge, or if the discharge smells different and is associated with itchiness or sores.

How to Ease Discomfort Caused by Vaginal Discharges?

  • With increased vaginal discharge, feeling uncomfortable is natural.

  • A pregnant person can use unscented panty liners to help manage the increased discharges.

  • In addition, it is recommended to wear breathable or loose cotton underwear and change them often.

  • The use of tampons is not recommended.

  • Avoiding the use of scented soap or bath products is advised.


Increased vaginal discharges are early pregnancy signs and are usually colorless, odorless, and of thin milky white consistency. Vaginal discharge serves an important purpose during pregnancy; they prevent infections in the vagina and the womb. As long as the vaginal discharge remains colorless and odorless, it is normal without any cause for concern.

Frequently Asked Questions


When Should One Be Concerned About Discharge During Pregnancy?

One should be concerned about vaginal discharge only if the smell is strange or unpleasant, green or yellow, or if the person feels sore or itchy around the vagina. The woman has to worry if she has pain while peeing. The normal vaginal discharge is milky white, mild, and clear. It fluctuates throughout the menstrual cycle. It is important to tell the doctor about the condition if there is abnormal discharge, as it could be a sign of a problem in the pregnancy or infection. The signs of abnormal discharge are accompanied by itching, vulvar swelling, and redness. The discharge is green, yellow, and gray in color.


What Is the Color of Pregnancy Discharge?

It is normal to have vaginal discharge during pregnancy. The healthy vaginal discharge color is clear, thin, milky, and white. It does not smell bad. The abnormal vaginal discharge can be green or yellow, and the person will feel itchy or sore around the vagina. This discharge prevents the traveling of infection from the vagina to the womb. Towards the end of pregnancy, the discharge increases. The color and consistency of the discharge change during pregnancy. Mostly the discharge is milky white or clear.


What Are the Types of Discharge During Pregnancy?

It is crucial to inform the doctor if the discharge during pregnancy is green, gray, colorless, or white and if the odor is foul smell and strong. It is also strange if the consistency is chunky, frothy, and cottage cheese-like instead of stringy.  The various colors of discharge are-
- White and lumpy.
- Milky white or clear.
- Yellow or green.
- Brown.
- Grey.
- Pink.
- Red.


How Much Discharge Is Normal During Pregnancy?

Vaginal discharge is normal during pregnancy, and it is normal to have more during pregnancy. Towards the end of pregnancy, the amount of discharge increases. It is normal to have thin, milky vaginal discharge throughout the pregnancy. All women have daily vaginal discharge, which is quite normal. There is a difference between abnormal and normal vaginal discharge. Abnormal discharge can be due to bacterial vaginosis, chlamydia, and yeast infection. 


How Normal Is It to Have a Discharge in the First Trimester of Pregnancy?

Yes, it is normal for women to have normal discharge during the first month of pregnancy. A person should worry about white discharge if it is greenish, blood-tinged, cheesy, or yellowish. There is an increase in white creamy discharge pregnancy due to high levels of estrogen. If the vaginal discharge smells unpleasant or odorless or itching, it could be a sign of infection. It is also normal to have mild creamy white discharge even before pregnancy.


How Does Pregnancy Discharge Start?

The vaginal discharge changes from time to time. The discharge gets heavier just before the period, and it is normal to have more discharge than normal. Changes in cervical mucus and vaginal discharge happen throughout pregnancy; it is a signal of early pregnancy. One can distinguish between vaginal discharge and cervical mucus before a period, ovulation, and early pregnancy. Before pregnancy, the cervical mucus is thick and sticky to prevent infection. After ovulation, it becomes thin, slippery, watery, and abundant so that the sperm would swim and survive.


How Does Miscarriage Discharge Look Like?

The symptoms of miscarriage can be the passage of fluid, tissue, and other products from the vagina. There will be spotting and bleeding in the vagina. The bleeding starts as light spotting, and when the cervix dilates, the bleeding becomes heavier. The blood color ranges from pink to brown.


Can Vaginal Discharge Harm the Unborn Baby?

The vaginal discharge does not harm childbirth or pregnancy. The vaginal discharge causes extreme itchiness and white discharge. Especially during the third trimester of pregnancy, the pregnant woman gets thrush. The vaginal discharge does not harm the child during pregnancy. It is normal during the early stages of pregnancy, and due to high levels of estrogen, the discharge can be more, and it can be thick, thin, milky, and odorless.


What Is the Smell of Pregnancy Discharge?

There is an unusual ammonia smell during the pregnancy. This is due to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and urinary tract infections (UTIs) that cause the vagina to smell unpleasant or odd. Early pregnancy with a fishy smell is a sign of a vaginal infection called bacterial vaginosis. If the discharge is cottage-cheese-like consistency, it is called a yeast infection. The pink, brown, and red color of the discharge is a sign of infection. Heavy bleeding during pregnancy, is also a sign of ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.


What Is the Difference Between Leaking and Discharge in Pregnancy?

Leaking Amniotic Fluid- Amniotic fluid surrounds the fetus in the womb. It helps in the development of the fetus. The amniotic fluid is present in the amniotic sac that usually breaks when the woman is in labor. When the amniotic fluid ruptures early, it causes premature rupture of the membranes, which leads to amniotic fluid leaking from the vagina. It is a clear and odorless fluid that contains traces of mucus and blood.
Vaginal Discharge- It is a white fluid that comes out of the vagina. The vagina, uterus, and cervix produce the vaginal discharge that is made up of bacteria and cells. It helps to fight infections and lubricates the vagina. It is a normal process which is a sign of infection.


What Does Creamy White Discharge Indicate?

Creamy white discharge is the most common type of white discharge that is experienced by all menstruating women in life. It is normal and healthy for every bodily function. The consistency changes according to the phase of the cycle. As the person is near the period, the consistency becomes more creamy and opaque. Milky white discharges are also the symptoms of the early stages of pregnancy. The person should check with a doctor if the discharge is like cottage cheese, thick, clumpy, yellow or green in color, itchy vagina, bad odor, and redness or swelling around the vulva region.


Does Pregnancy Discharge Cause Itching?

During pregnancy, vaginal discharge increases because of change in hormonal levels that leads to itching. The increased release of shots causes itching at some point during pregnancy. The conditions that cause vaginal itching during pregnancy are:
- Yeast Infection - Causes burning, itching, and thick consistency that has cottage cheese texture.
- Bacterial Vaginosis - The symptoms include redness, itching, burning, and a fishlike odor.
- Vaginal Dryness - Pain, redness, and irritation during sex.
- Urinary Tract Infections - Vaginal itching, burning, and pain during intercourse.
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases - Causes rash, vaginal discharge, and burning.


What Are the Drinks That Can Be Taken to Avoid White Discharge?

Cranberry juice is very healthy for vaginal discharge because the tannins in the cranberries help in preventing the growth of microorganisms and harmful bacteria. Rice starch is extracted from rice while cooking the rice. After the rice is boiled, the water is separated from it. One can cool down the water and drink them, which helps in reducing the white discharge. Pomegranate juice is a very good remedy to prevent white discharge. Hydration is very important for the overall wellness of the body. Drinking eight glasses of water is great for reducing the white discharge and helps to eliminate waste products.


Which Are the Fruits That Are Good for White Discharge?

The foods that will reduce the white discharge from women:
- Aloe vera.
- Green tea.
- Apple cider vinegar.
- Turmeric.
- Amla.
- Fenugreek seeds.
- Garlic.

Last reviewed at:
18 Aug 2023  -  5 min read




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