Increased vaginal discharge during pregnancy

By (embryologist), (gynaecologist), (embryologist) and (embryologist).
Last Update: 07/28/2023

When a woman becomes pregnant, it is normal to notice changes in the amount of vaginal discharge. In fact, most pregnant women notice an increase in their vaginal secretions.

This is one of the usual changes that women experience in pregnancy, although this increased vaginal discharge can be bothersome. However, it is important to distinguish when the discharge is normal and when it may indicate a vaginal infection and be cause for consultation with a specialist.

Why does vaginal discharge increase in pregnancy?

Increased vaginal secretions in pregnancy are completely normal and transitory during the gestation period. However, some women will notice this increase in their vaginal discharge more obviously, while for others it may be a more subtle change.

Especially in the first case, it is true that increased vaginal secretions in pregnancy are often uncomfortable. However, this increased vaginal discharge is completely normal due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy. In addition, pregnancy also increases the blood supply to the vagina.

Some women may even notice some increase in vaginal discharge before confirming that they are pregnant, i.e., even before a missed period. Therefore, although it is necessary to confirm pregnancy with a urine or blood pregnancy test, an increase in the amount of vaginal discharge may be an early symptom of pregnancy.

However, there are changes in vaginal discharge that are not normal and could be indicative of an infection. A variation in the color, odor or appearance of the vaginal discharge should be discussed with the gynecologist, especially if there is also vaginal itching or burning.

What is vaginal discharge like in pregnancy?

Vaginal discharge keeps the vagina moist and has a protective function, helping to prevent irritation and infection. This vaginal discharge during pregnancy should be clear or whitish in color, viscous and odorless (or with a very faint odor). Any change in these characteristics of vaginal discharge is a reason to visit the gynecologist.

However, having a lot of vaginal discharge (with the characteristics mentioned above) is normal in pregnancy. It is common to notice more vaginal discharge in early pregnancy, but it increases as the weeks of gestation progress and especially in late pregnancy. In fact, you may notice more discharge as you get closer to your due date, and it may be thicker and stickier than normal.

It is the expulsion of the mucus plug. The mucous plug is secreted by the cervix and seals it, like a plug, to prevent the ascent of bacteria from the vagina and protect the uterus from infection. However, as the time of delivery approaches, during the cervix preparation process the mucus plug is expelled, either gradually or in a single clot, and may have small streaks of blood.

Relieving the discomfort of vaginal discharge in pregnancy

Increased vaginal secretions during pregnancy can be uncomfortable for women. For this reason, it is important to bear in mind a few tips:

  • Keep the area clean and dry.
  • Change underwear when necessary. It is best to avoid the use of panty liners and use them only if the discharge is very abundant and there is no possibility of changing underwear. In any case, do not use tampons.
  • Use cotton underwear, which favors perspiration, and which is not too tight.
  • Do not douche or use perfumed products.

This will help reduce the sensation of wetness and alleviate discomfort due to increased vaginal discharge during pregnancy.

when to consult a gynecologist?

As mentioned above, any change in the color, odor, texture or consistency of the vaginal discharge is cause for consultation with the gynecologist. Similarly, a doctor should also be consulted if there is vaginal itching or burning.

In this way, it will be possible to evaluate if there is any infection and provide the most appropriate treatment for it, taking into account that the woman is pregnant and it must be a safe treatment for her and for the baby. For this same reason, it is important not to self-medicate, even if you have had similar symptoms in the past. You should also see a specialist as soon as possible if you suspect that you are leaking amniotic fluid because you have observed a watery leak of clear or clear, odorless fluid.

Finally, it is important to go to the hospital for assessment of any spotting or bleeding and symptoms such as abdominal pain or fever.

However, it should be noted that a pinkish discharge may be common after sexual intercourse or after a gynecological examination, as a small amount of bleeding may occur as the area is more sensitive. In any case, if this spotting is prolonged, abundant, if there is pain or if it appears at any other time, it is necessary to consult a gynecologist.

FAQs from users

Is smelly discharge a symptom of pregnancy?

By Rocío Rodríguez Martín M.D. (gynaecologist).

When the odour of vaginal discharge is light, there is nothing to worry about. However, if the vaginal discharge has a strong, unpleasant odour, it may be due to an infection.
Read more

I have a very liquid discharge, like water, is that because my amniotic sac has ruptured?

By Sara Salgado B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

If the discharge is colourless, odourless and very liquid, it is most likely yes. If in doubt, it is always advisable to see a doctor.

Is it normal to have brown discharge at 3 weeks pregnant?

By Marta Barranquero Gómez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

No, it is not usual or common to have a brown vaginal discharge in week 3 of pregnancy. At this time, the woman may have more abundant whitish discharge, but it is rare to have brown discharge.

Suggested for you

If you want to read more information about changes in vaginal discharge and when it is abnormal, you can continue reading in this article: What are changes in vaginal discharge due to?

On the other hand, if you want to know more about such a common symptom in pregnancy as nausea and vomiting, we recommend you to visit the following link: Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: what causes them and can they be relieved?

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FAQs from users: 'Is smelly discharge a symptom of pregnancy?', 'I have a very liquid discharge, like water, is that because my amniotic sac has ruptured?' and 'Is it normal to have brown discharge at 3 weeks pregnant?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Marta Barranquero Gómez
Marta Barranquero Gómez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduated in Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH) in collaboration with Ginefiv and in Clinical Genetics by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH). More information about Marta Barranquero Gómez
License: 3316-CV
 Rocío Rodríguez Martín
Rocío Rodríguez Martín
Rocío Rodríguez Martín has a degree in Medicine from the University of Seville. In addition, Rocío has several Master's degrees, including one in Assisted Human Reproduction from the Hospital Virgen del Rocío and Ginemed. Dr. Rodríguez is currently working at Next Fertility Sevilla. More information about Rocío Rodríguez Martín
Licence: 414116713
 Sara Salgado
Sara Salgado
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). Master's Degree in Human Assisted Reproduction from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). Certificate of University Expert in Genetic Diagnosis Techniques from the University of Valencia (UV). More information about Sara Salgado
 Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduate in Health Biology from the University of Alcalá and specialized in Clinical Genetics from the same university. Master in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Valencia in collaboration with IVI clinics. More information about Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
License: 3435-CV

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