If you’re a first-time mom, who just found out that you are pregnant, you have an exciting journey ahead of you. As you already know, your body will go through some amazing and sometimes strange changes. Maybe you’ve heard the term “leukorrhea.” That sounds a little scary, doesn't it? Don’t worry, many pregnant women have that reaction, but it’s not something to wrroy about.
What Causes Leukorrhea During Pregnancy?
Experts define leukorrhea as a vaginal discharge during pregnancy. Leukorrhea or leucorrhea is normal and has a thin, white, milky appearance and is mild smelling (or sometimes odorless).
When you become pregnant, your body produces more estrogen than usual. Due to the increase in estrogen, more blood flows to the pelvic area and stimulates mucous membranes. This pregnancy discharge is the result.
Other causes of leukorrhea include an early sign of puberty and sexual arousal. So, it’s possible to experience leukorrhea when not pregnant.
What Is a Normal Vaginal Discharge?
Seeing discharge during pregnancy can be alarming. It can also be a bit worrisome if you’re not pregnant. Remember, leukorrhea during pregnancy and after your period is normal. A normal and healthy vaginal discharge is the same for pregnant and non-pregnant women.
Many women assume that discharge is bad and is even dirty, but healthy discharge has an important function in the reproductive system. Glands inside the vagina and cervix make fluid that flushes away dead cells and bacteria. As a result, the vagina is clean, and it helps to prevent infection.
As mentioned, normal discharge is usually clear to milky white and may or may not have a mild odor. Texturally, it may vary from appearing paste-like to sticky, clear, and stretchy. If you have heavy discharge, you may spot leukorrhea in your urine, which is normal.
The color, texture, and odor of vaginal discharge depend on the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and sexual arousal. Frequent monitoring of your discharge can help you determine what’s normal for you.
What Is an Abnormal Vaginal Discharge?
Infections are more likely to occur right before or during your period. The risk of infection is higher because the vagina is less acidic, which means it is less effective at fighting off bad bacteria. In addition to estrogen levels changing and sexual intercourse, the vagina may become irritated due to perfumed products, like soaps and powders, using a douche, and allergies.
One of the benefits of knowing what your vaginal discharge looks like is to determine when your discharge is abnormal. When your leukoria is abnormal, you will notice a change in smell, appearance, and texture. Here are some common causes of leukorrhea disease or an abnormal discharge:
- If your discharge is bloody or brown, it could indicate irregular menstrual cycles or cervical or endometrial cancer. Some leukorrhea symptoms may include abnormal vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain.
- If the discharge is cloudy or yellow, it could indicate Gonorrhea, an STD. Some symptoms include bleeding between periods, episodes of urinary incontinence, and pelvic pain.
- If your vaginal discharge is frothy, yellow, or greenish with a foul odor, it could be Trichomoniasis, an STD. Symptoms include pain and itching while urinating.
- A thick, white, cottage cheese type of discharge typically indicates a yeast infection. Symptoms may include swelling and pain around the vulva, itching, and pain during intercourse.
- Discharge that is white, gray, or yellow and has a “fishy” odor may indicate Bacterial vaginosis, which is a mild infection of the vagina. Symptoms include itching, burning, redness, and swelling of the vagina or vulva.
- Pink vaginal discharge usually indicates the shedding of the uterine lining after childbirth. This discharge is also known as lochia. Although this type of discharge is considered normal, we included it in the “abnormal” section because it may be a cause for concern.
Should I Notify My Healthcare Provider About Leukorrhea?
Whether you have leucorrhoea pregnancy symptoms or are not pregnant and have discharge, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider if you are concerned. Even if your leukorrhea turns out to be normal, it’s always good that you got a second opinion from a medical professional.
You should visit your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms of abnormal discharge that we listed above, such as pain, foul odor, itching, redness, swelling, and odd-colored vaginal discharge. While some minor infections, such as bacterial vaginosis, may clear up without treatment, most abnormal discharge needs to be looked at by a doctor.
If you experience leukorrhea in addition to pregnancy symptoms, such as lower back or abdominal pain, calf or thigh pain, frequent urination, fatigue, irritability, gastrointestinal issues, headache, and dark circles under the eyes, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your OB-GYN.
Although many women self-diagnose their vaginal discharge and purchase OTC treatments to avoid a doctor’s visit, it’s usually best to visit your doctor first, especially if you are pregnant.
When you visit your doctor, he or she will take a brief look at your health history, ask you if you have had vaginal infections in the past, and ask you about your symptoms. He or she is likely to ask about the discharge, when it started, and if you are experiencing any pain.
Next, the doctor is likely to do a simple examination, take a sample of discharge, and may even do a Pap smear test (collect cells from your cervix). All of these procedures are safe and common for pregnant women.
If your doctor determines that your leukorrhea looks healthy and normal, you will not need to undergo any treatment, but if an infection is detected, he or she will prescribe a treatment.
Your treatment depends on the diagnosis, and you may be prescribed a cream or antibiotic pill. If, for example, your discharge is being treated as a yeast infection, your doctor will likely recommend a cream or suppository as many oral medications are not proven to be safe for pregnant women.
Even if you’re worried about the safety of treatment, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions. Leaving an infection untreated is worse and can spread to your baby during delivery in the form of an infection, such as oral thrush.
Depending on the leukorrhea pregnancy diagnosis, symptoms may not clear up for about two weeks. If symptoms worsen or new ones appear while undergoing treatment, contact your medical professional immediately.
Remedies to Elude Leukorrhea
Now that we’ve explained normal and abnormal leukorrhea and some treatment options you can expect while you’re pregnant, there are ways to avoid abnormal leukorrhea. Many of these remedies are inexpensive, are natural, and safe.
By eating a healthy and balanced diet, you can keep your vaginal discharge normal and healthy. Avoiding sugary and processed foods is not only beneficial to maintaining healthy leukorrhea, but it is also good for your growing baby, too. Overripe bananas, garlic, and yogurt will help as well. Staying adequately hydrated is another great way to naturally flush toxins from your body.
Wearing underwear made from synthetic material can greatly increase your risk of infections. Underwear that is made of 100% cotton and is “breathable” will keep you healthier. It’s also a good idea to avoid wearing tight fitted pants for long periods of time. Letting air circulate will keep conditions in your genital region healthy (not too moist or too hot).
Exercise is a great way to stay fit and less stressed during your pregnancy. Low stress and gentle exercises like yoga, meditation, and swimming can help to keep leukorrhea healthy and normal. While swimming is great exercise, particularly when you’re pregnant, don’t wear your wet swimsuit too long and always shower after swimming or exercising.
Keeping up with good hygiene is important, but it’s essential to do it right. When showering, avoid using heavily scented soap on your genitals. While it smells good and may be safe for other parts of your body, it can be bad for your vulva and vagina. Instead, use mild and gentle soap. Remember, your body has the ability to “self-clean.”
After showering, to help keep your genital area dry, use a blow dryer on a low and cool setting. This may be helpful as your belly grows and it becomes more difficult to reach parts of your body.
Avoid using douches, scented or colored toilet paper, scented feminine hygiene products or sprays, and bubble bath.
If you are doing your own research on leukorrhea remedies, you may notice a mention of fenugreek seeds and coriander supplements. While there are many health benefits and uses for both, fenugreek and coriander supplements are not deemed completely safe for pregnant women.
Whether you are considering using a topical cream or an herbal supplement, you should always talk with a doctor to determine if it's safe for you and your unborn baby. If you experience any side effects or other health issues when treating abnormal leukorrhea, contact your doctor immediately.
In general, the presence of leukorrhea during pregnancy is perfectly normal and nothing to fear. Remember that your body is going through a lot of changes, and this may just be another sign of those changes.
However, do note the different signs that leukorrhea may be abnormal and a sign of something more serious. Even if you are unsure of whether the discharge is normal or not, you want to stay aware of what is happening with your body.
It is essential to see you doctor about any concerns you have with health during pregnancy. It is always better to be safe than sorry since you not only have to worry about your health but also that of your unborn baby.