Discharge During Pregnancy: Is It Something to Worry about?

Having wet panties during pregnancy or presenting some type of vaginal discharge is something completely normal, especially when the discharge is transparent or slightly white. This happens due to the increase of estrogens in the body, as well as an increase in blood circulation in the pelvic area.

Harmless discharge generally presents the following characteristics:

  • Transparent or white;
  • Slightly thick, similar to mucous;
  • No smell.

Any other type of discharge discharge, for example, red in color or with a foul smell, should be evaluated. Therefore it's important to go to the hospital or to visit an obstetrician, to diagnose if there is any problem that needs to be treated, such as infection or an STD.

Discharge During Pregnancy: Is It Something to Worry about?

When can vaginal discharge be something serious

Vaginal discharge can be a sign of serious health problems when it's greenish, yellow, has a strong smell, or causes some type of pain. Some common health problems that can cause a discharge to appear during pregnancy include:

1. Yeast infections

Vaginal yeast infections, know as candidiasis, are vaginal infections that occur due to a yeast overgrowth, which can cause symptoms such as white discharge (similar to cottage cheese), intense itchiness and redness in the genital area.

This type of infection is very common in pregnancy and even though it does not affect the baby's development in the uterus, it needs to be treated in order to reduce discomfort and to prevent the baby from coming into contact with the fungus during labor.  

What to do: visit an obstetrician or gynecologist to confirm the diagnosis and start adequate treatment, each usually includes the use of creams or anti-fungal pills, such as Miconazole or Terconazole. You can also use home remedies, such as natural yogurt, to relieve symptoms and speed up medical treatment.

2. Bacterial vaginosis 

Bacteria vaginosis is a type of infection that is quite common, even during pregnancy, as the change in estrogen levels facilitates the development of fungi and bacteria.

In these cases, the discharge is slightly gray or yellow and it smells like rotten fish.

What to do: you will need to visit an obstetrician or a gynecologist to confirm the diagnosis and start treatment with antibiotics that are safe for pregnancy such as Metronidazole or Clindamycin, for about 7 days. 

3. Gonorrhea

This is an STD that is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae which is transmitted through unprotected sex. Symptoms include yellow discharge, pain when urinating, incontinence, and lumps in the vagina. 

As gonorrhea can affect pregnancy, increasing the risk of miscarriage, premature labor, or infection of the amniotic fluid, it's important to start treatment as soon as possible. 

What to do: if you suspect of Gonorrhea or any other STD, it's important that you visit an obstetrician or gynecologist to confirm the diagnosis and start adequate treatment, which in is usually done with antibiotics, such as Penicillin, Ofloxacin or Ciprofloxacin. 

4. Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is another STD that can also occur during pregnancy. Trichomoniasis can increase the risk of premature birth or low birth weight, and so it must be treated as quickly as possible. 

The most characteristic signs of this infection include greenish or yellow discharge, redness in the genital area, pain when urinating, itchiness, and slight vaginal bleeding.

What to do: visit your obstetrician or gynecologist to confirm the diagnosis and start treatment with antibiotics, such as Metronidazole, for about 3 to 7 days. 

How to differentiate discharge from water breaking 

To differentiate between a vaginal discharge and your waters breaking take into consideration the color and thickness of the liquid:

  • Discharge: is viscous and it may have a smell or some color;
  • Amniotic fluid: is quite liquidy, it's either transparent or a light yellow color, and it's odorless;
  • Mucus plug: it is usually yellow, thick, and it looks like catarrh or it may contain strings of blood, thus having a brownish color, and be quite different from normal discharge.

Some women can present a small loss of amniotic fluid before labor starts, and so, if you are near your due time, and that happens it possibly is a sign that your waters have broken.

When to visit the doctor

It is recommended you go to a gynecologist whenever you present the following symptoms:

  • Discharge with strong smell;
  • Discharge with smell:
  • Pain and burning sensation when urinating;
  • Pain during sexual intercourse or bleeding;
  • If you suspect blood loss through the vagina during labor;
  • If you suspect that your waters have broken.

At the medical appointment, you must inform the doctor of when the symptoms started and show your panties with the discharge so the doctor can check the color, smell, and thickness of the discharge, to make a diagnosis, and then tell you what to do. 

Was this information helpful?
More on this subject: