What Is Leukorrhea?

Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is an exciting and unusual time during which your body will go through numerous changes. One change you may not expect is an increase in vaginal discharge, called leukorrhea. In most cases, this is a normal and healthy change. Still, sometimes it could be a sign of infection.

Keep reading to learn more about what leukorrhea is, signs of infection, and tips for coping with increased vaginal discharge.

Tips for Managing Leukorrhea (Vaginal Discharge) During Pregnancy

Verywell / Jessica Olah

What Is Leukorrhea?

Leukorrhea is a normal type of vaginal discharge present in both pregnant and non-pregnant people. It is an odorless discharge that is clear or milky in color. Just like menstrual flow, the length, heaviness, and amount of leukorrhea will vary from person to person.

The composition of leukorrhea is fluid and dead cells being shed from your vagina. It is a sign of a healthy vagina. The mucus-like fluid helps keep vaginal tissues moist and clears away impurities that could lead to infections.

Leukorrhea may appear as a thin, clear substance or may become thicker and stretchy depending on the phase of your menstrual cycle.

It’s normal for some people to experience more leukorrhea and for the amount to increase during pregnancy. Still, some people may be concerned that an increase in discharge may indicate an infection, especially with the normal increase during pregnancy.

What Causes Leukorrhea During Pregnancy?

When you’re pregnant, you may notice changes in the amount of leukorrhea you experience. It’s believed the amount and consistency of vaginal discharge during pregnancy may change because of increasing pregnancy hormones and blood flow.

Leukorrhea helps keep the vagina and birth canal free from harmful bacteria to support a healthy vaginal flora (microbes normally present in the vagina).

Changes from the usual odorless and clear or whitish discharge, such as a foul smell or changes in the color, and other symptoms such as itchiness, could be a sign of infection.

Coping With Leukorrhea During Pregnancy

With leukorrhea, you may notice occasional wetness or chalk-colored stains on your underwear. Sometimes you may see the discharge when wiping after using the bathroom. This is all completely normal and not a cause for concern.

If you're experiencing an excessive amount of leukorrhea, and you have to be out and about, consider wearing a panty liner or pad to help you feel more comfortable.

Here are some other tips for coping with leukorrhea during pregnancy:

  • Don't douche: Douching (rinsing inside the vagina) may alter the pH (acidity or alkalinity) of your vagina and cause an imbalance of bacteria and yeast, leading to infection. It could also increase the amount of discharge.
  • Wear breathable underwear: Wearing cotton panties and other breathable fabrics may help reduce moisture and discomfort.
  • Don't use a tampon for the discharge: Using a tampon is not a recommended way to address leukorrhea.
  • Wash with gentle soap and warm water during regular bathing: Maintain your hygiene habits, but be sure to use gentle cleansers. Don't use any harsh soaps, as they can irritate.

When to See a Healthcare Professional

Most pregnant people experience this vaginal discharge. Most of the time, an increase in discharge during pregnancy isn’t a sign of a problem as long as it’s odorless and mild. If you’re concerned, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare professional for a checkup.

Report any changes to vaginal discharge and the surrounding area that could be a sign of an infection, such as:

  • Excessive amounts of discharge
  • Chunky or cottage-cheese-like texture
  • Foul-smelling odor
  • Heavy or thick consistency
  • Changes in color, such as yellow or greenish hues
  • Pain while urinating or during sex
  • Pain in the pelvis or lower abdomen
  • Burning sensation

These signs and symptoms could signal an infection, such as:

  • Yeast infection: A common overgrowth of Candida albicans yeast in the vagina and vulva
  • Bacterial vaginosis: An imbalance in the types of bacteria in the vagina
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease: An infection that spreads from the vagina to other organs in the pelvis
  • Irritation or an allergic reaction: Can react to soaps, lubricants, laundry products, hygiene products, and more
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI): Such as chlamydia or gonorrhea

Typically, your obstetrician (a doctor specializing in pregnancy and childbirth) will do a return screening for these conditions during early pregnancy. If you notice any new symptoms, contact your healthcare professional. That way, if there is a problem, it can be treated to help prevent pregnancy complications.

Summary

Increases in vaginal discharge, called leukorrhea, are a normal and healthy part of pregnancy and are usually nothing to worry about. Still, the added moisture and wetness can be uncomfortable. Consider wearing breathable underwear and occasionally wearing a liner or pad for part of the day to help. Discuss any concerns with your healthcare professional to ensure your leukorrhea is healthy.

A Word From Verywell

It can be easy to worry about any changes that occur during pregnancy. Don't hesitate to contact your healthcare professional with questions. It’s normal to check on little things because of concerns for your health and the health of your baby. They will be able to provide reassuring information and address any symptoms that may indicate a problem.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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