Pregnancy vaginal discharge: What’s normal and what’s not?

Yellow, green or smells fishy? Your vaginal discharge when you’re expecting may signal a problem…

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When you’re expecting, every little thing can give you cause to worry ― is my baby kicking enough, and is she growing like she’s supposed to, for instance.

Changes in your vaginal discharge is also a major reason for pregnant women to worry. You start to worry if your discharge smells “funky”, if its consistency changes, and especially if it’s bright red in colour.

Gleneagles obstetrician-gynecologist Dr Christopher Chong explains that in non-pregnant women, normal discharge is usually clear, or white, without any smell or curd-like materials.

“Women get a white discharge called leucorrhoea ― this discharge can increase in pregnancy. If it is yellow, green, brown, or bloody, there’s likely to be an infection,” Dr Chong says.

If you notice any abnormal changes in your vaginal discharge, a trip to the doctor may be in order. Here are “common leaks” and the problems they may signal.

1. Cheese, or curd-like discharge
A yeast infection could give rise to a cheese-like discharge. During pregnancy, hormonal changes will cause more sugar to be produced in vaginal secretions ― yeast grows well under these conditions. In addition to changes in your discharge, your vaginal area may also itch, be red and sore, and you might even feel pain when you urinate.

The problem with yeast infections is that they can cause your immunity to drop (it’s already low when you’re pregnant), and more serious infections to set in. It can even trigger premature labour.

See your gynae as you’ll need prescription medication to treat the yeast infection. Also, keep good hygiene and take some yoghurt ― the probiotics can help keep yeast infections at bay.

During pregnancy, hormonal changes will cause more sugar to be produced in the vaginal secretions, and yeast grows well under these conditions.

2. A bad or “fishy” smell
Bad odours can be caused by vaginal infections, as well as bleeding in pregnancy that’s mixed with discharge, notes Dr Chong. “If your discharge smells fishy, if could be caused by a bacteria called Gardnerella,” he adds. The smell may be more obvious after sex.

Gardnerella, also known as bacterial vaginosis, is an infection caused by an imbalance in the bacteria found in the vagina. An itch or a burning sensation may accompany it.

It can cause premature labour if the infection ascends into the uterus, causing the membranes to rupture prematurely. While this infection can sometimes clear up on its own, you’re advised to see your gynae for prescription medicine, so that you don’t endanger your baby.