Experiencing a watery discharge during pregnancy is quite common. Generally, the frequency and the amount of discharge increases towards the later stages of pregnancy. The discharge is actually the odorless or mild-smelling, sticky fluid produced by the vagina. During pregnancy, the vaginal walls and the cervix become soft which increases the amount of vaginal discharge.
What is Normal
Leukorrhea: Vaginal discharge during pregnancy is known as leukorrhea. During the earlier stages of pregnancy, the discharge may be caused due to a surge in the levels of estrogen that cause more blood flow towards the vagina. The discharge is usually white in color, thin, and smells mildly.
Vaginal Secretions: The discharge may comprise vaginal and cervical secretions, dead skin cells, and vaginal bacteria. However, towards the end of the third trimester, if you experience sudden gush of fluids, it may be because of the amniotic fluid discharge.
Mucus Plug: The thinning and dilation of the cervix causes expulsion of the mucus plug during the later stages of pregnancy. This mucus plug is made of small amounts of mucus and fills the cervical canal during pregnancy. It acts as a protection to block the passage of bacteria to the baby. Once, a woman is ready for delivery, the mucus plug comes off as the cervix dilates. Sexual intercourse or vaginal examination can also affect the mucus plug. Sometimes, it may also show signs of blood.
Reddish Tinge in the Discharge: As already mentioned, vaginal discharge during pregnancy is caused due to increased blood flow to the cervix. In the early stages of pregnancy, the watery discharge has a reddish tinge. It is due to the presence of a few spots of blood in it. As the stages of pregnancy development progresses, the watery discharge shows the consistency of an egg white. Such a discharge during pregnancy is natural and there is hardly anything that can be done to stop it. During the end of the pregnancy, there can be heavy discharge as the head of the baby presses against the cervix.
When to Seek Help
Preterm Labor: If you have not yet completed 37 weeks and are getting a red- or brownish-colored or a heavy discharge, it is advisable to bring it to your doctor's notice immediately as it may indicate premature delivery.
Excessive Discharge: It is difficult to distinguish between mucus and amniotic fluid (the protective liquid in the amniotic sac which is released when the amnion ruptures). In case of excessive watery discharge, especially after 28 weeks of pregnancy, seek medical help immediately.
Candidiasis/Yeast Infection: If you are suffering from a swollen vulva, itchiness, burning sensation, along with lot of clumpy greenish-yellow discharge, you may be suffering from a yeast infection. During pregnancy, it becomes difficult to control this infection and it can cause extreme discomfort. Consult your doctor immediately for treating this fungal infection.
Bacterial Vaginosis: Many times, an imbalance in the vaginal bacteria can lead to bacterial vaginosis. Its symptoms include a grayish-white or yellowish 'fishy' smelling discharge, especially after sexual intercourse. If not treated in time, it can lead to miscarriage, preterm delivery, and post pregnancy uterine infection.
Trichomoniasis: It is a sexually transmitted infection which is caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. Its symptoms are redness, irritated vulva, greenish-yellow frothy discharge, abdominal discomfort, pain during urinating and intercourse, and foul odor. It can also lead to preterm birth and low birth weight in babies.
Sexually Transmitted Disease: If a pregnant woman experiences watery discharge and notices its color change from white to yellow, gray, or green, then she may be suffering either from a vaginal infection or sexually transmitted disease. It may be the case, even in the absence of irritation, burning and itching. Paying a visit to the doctor is a must in such a case as it involves a risk of the transmission of the causative agent to the fetus.
Others: Pregnant women often have some small amount of blood in the discharge. However, large quantity of blood may indicate placenta previa, placental abruption, ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage which can prove fatal. Hence, it is advisable to consult the doctor immediately.
A Few Precautions
As mentioned earlier, there is no medical or natural treatment for watery discharge. Therefore, prepare yourself thoroughly to deal with the condition. In order to maintain hygiene and freshness, you may use panty liners or sanitary pads to absorb the watery discharge. But do not use tampons during pregnancy as it may irritate your genital parts.
Try to keep the genital area dry and clean as much as possible. While wiping the vagina after using toilet, make sure that you do it from front to back. Stop using tight undergarments, feminine hygiene sprays, scented pads, toilet papers and deodorant soaps. They increase the risk of genital infection. An ideal way to feel comfortable while such times is to wear cotton undergarments.
Douching is not advisable during pregnancy. Never opt for it as it tends to disturb the vaginal ph balance and makes your genitalia more prone to microbial infection. A pregnant woman should never try to treat herself on her own because even a small negligence may badly affect the fetus. Therefore, do not take over-the-counter medicines to ease your discomfort. Always, visit a doctor for necessary assistance.
Your body undergoes a number of changes during pregnancy. Majority of these changes are natural. In fact, they are essential for the developing fetus and preparing your body for later stages of pregnancy and childbirth. However, do not try to self-diagnose, seek a doctor immediately if you suspect any abnormality.
Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.