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When is vaginal discharge a cause for concern during pregnancy

If your panties get wet during pregnancy or you have some type of discharge it is quite normal, especially when this discharge is transparent or whitish, because it is caused due to the increase of estrogens in the body, as well as increased circulation in the pelvic region. This type of discharge does not need specific treatment, it is only recommended you maintain your usual hygiene habits.

Vaginal discharge is not a cause for concern if it presents the following characteristics:

  • Transparent or whitish;
  • Slightly thick, mucus-like;
  • Without smell.

However, if the vaginal discharge changes in appearance, becoming greenish for example or foul smelling, it is very important to go to the hospital immediately or you seek your obstetrician quickly, as it may indicate the presence of a problem that needs to be treated, such as an infection or a sexually transmitted disease, for example.

When is vaginal discharge a cause for concern during pregnancy

When can vaginal discharge be worrying

Vaginal discharge can be considered a sign of concern when it is greenish, yellowish, has a strong smell or causes some type of pain. Some of the most common causes for changes in vaginal discharge include:

1. Vaginal yeast infection

Vaginal candidiasis is a fungal infection, causes by the fungus candida albicans, which causes symptoms such as whitish vaginal discharge, similar to cottage cheese, intense itching in the genital region and redness.

This type of infection is quite common in pregnancy due to hormonal changes and although it does not affect the baby's development in the uterus, it needs to be treated to prevent the baby from being contaminated with the fungi during childbirth.

What to do: You should see your obstetrician or gynecologist to start treatment with ointments or anti-fungal pills, such as Miconazole or Terconazole, for example. However, some home remedies, such as plain yogurt, can also be used to relieve symptoms and speed up the doctor's recommended treatment.

2. Bacterial vaginosis

Vaginosis is a very common vaginal infection, even during pregnancy, because changes in estrogen levels facilitate the development of fungi and bacteria, especially if there isn't proper hygiene in the region.

In these cases, the vaginal discharge appears slightly gray or yellowish and smells like rotten fish.

What to do: You should see your obstetrician or gynecologist to confirm the diagnosis and to start treatment with safe gestation antibiotics such as Metronidazole or Clindamycin for about 7 days. See more about the treatment of this infection.

3. Gonorrhea

This is an infection caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium that is transmitted through unprotected sexual contact with someone contaminated and therefore can arise during pregnancy especially if you have contact with an infected partner. Symptoms include yellowish discharge, pain while urinating, incontinence and presence of lumps in the vagina, for example.

Since gonorrhea can affect pregnancy, increasing the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery or infection of the amniotic fluid, it is very important to start treatment quickly.

What to do: If you suspect that you are infected with a sexually transmitted disease, it is very important to go to the hospital or obstetrician quickly to make the diagnosis and start treatment, which in this case is done using antibiotics such as Penicillin, Ofloxacin or Ciprofloxacin.

When is vaginal discharge a cause for concern during pregnancy

4. Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is another sexually transmitted disease that can also occur during pregnancy if you have unprotected intimate contact with an infected partner. Trichomoniasis may increase the risk of preterm birth or low birth weight and should therefore be treated as soon as possible.

The most characteristic signs of this infection include greenish or yellowish discharge, redness in the genital area, pain when urinating, itching, and the presence of small vaginal bleeding.

What to do: You should go to the obstetrician or gynecologist to confirm the diagnosis and start treatment with an antibiotic such as Metronidazole for about 3 to 7 days.

How to differentiate vaginal discharge from amniotic sac rupture

In order to differentiate vaginal discharge from the rupture of the amniotic sac, you should evaluate the color and thickness of the liquid:

  • Vaginal discharge: it can be viscous and may have smell or color;
  • Amniotic fluid: it is quite fluid, without color or a very light yellow, but without smell;
  • Mucosal cap: usually yellowish, thick, looking like catarrh or may have traces of blood, having a brownish color being quite different from the normal vaginal discharges a women has had along her lifespan.

Some women may have small losses of amniotic fluid before labor has started and so if there is suspicion of a ruptured sac it is  important to tell your obstetrician so that he can evaluate it.

In this way, it is important to be careful and put an absorbent to perceive the color, quantity and viscosity of the secretion, as it can also be blood.

When to go to the doctor

It is recommended to go to your gynecologist whenever you have the following symptoms:

  • Vaginal discharge with a strong color;
  • Smelly vaginal discharge;
  • Pain and burning while urinating;
  • Pain during intimate contact or bleeding;
  • When there is suspicion of blood loss through the vagina during delivery;
  • When there is suspicion amniotic sac rupture.

At the doctor's office, you should tell him when your symptoms begun and show the dirty panties so that the doctor can check the color, smell and thickness of the discharge to arrive at a diagnosis and then indicate what measures should be taken.

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