Yellow Discharge During Pregnancy

Yellow discharge during pregnancy isn't always cause for concern. However, it can be a sign of an infection or a leak in the amniotic sac that protects a fetus in the womb. Yellow discharge is particularly concerning if paired with an unpleasant odor, pain, or itching.

Given the potential seriousness of both of these issues, it's important to see your healthcare provider right away. They will perform a physical exam and take a sample of the discharge, as well as urine, to be tested.

The sooner you learn why you're experiencing this, the sooner you can get the appropriate treatment, reducing the risk of possible complications.

This article looks at the possible causes of yellow discharge during pregnancy, as well as what type of discharge is considered normal. It is intended to be informative, but not a replacement for the advice of a medical professional.

Woman holding her pregnant stomach and looking down (A Guide to Discharge Color During Pregnancy)

Verywell / Katie Kerpel

What Is Normal Discharge During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy it's common to have an increase in vaginal discharge, known as leukorrhea. Normal vaginal discharge is typically odorless or has a mild smell and is often thin and clear. It may turn white or yellow after it's exposed to air.

Discharge may increase in volume throughout the pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester. However, the amount and what it looks like can vary from person to person. Using a panty liner can protect your clothes.

Yellow discharge during pregnancy can sometimes be a sign of infection, particularly if there's a foul smell or itching. Infections, when left untreated, may put a pregnancy at risk of miscarriage. It's important to see your healthcare provider to check for infections or other issues if you notice yellow discharge.

Yeast Infection

Vaginal yeast infections (vulvovaginal candidiasis or vaginal candidiasis) are pretty common in people with female reproductive organs. They're more common during pregnancy because of changing levels of hormones.

Your body naturally grows a certain amount of the yeast fungus. It's an important part of your gynecological ecosystem. When you have too much of it, it causes a yeast infection.

If you're taking broad-spectrum antibiotics for another ailment, you're at higher risk of yeast infections since antibiotics can kill beneficial bacteria as well as harmful ones. That can throw your vaginal environment out of balance.

You're also at-risk for future yeast infections if you had them before.

Symptoms of a Yeast Infection

Yeast infection symptoms include:

  • Itching, redness, and swelling in the vagina and vulva
  • Discharge that looks like cottage cheese; usually white but may be cream or slightly yellowish
  • A burning feeling when you urinate

How Can a Yeast Infection Affect My Pregnancy?

Although a yeast infection can cause discomfort, it doesn't pose a risk to your pregnancy. You can safely use an over-the-counter (OTC) vaginal cream or suppository, like Monistat, or a low dose of the anti-fungal pill called Diflucan (fluconazole) for an occasional yeast infection.

If you have recurring or treatment-resistant yeast infections while you're expecting, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that high-dose Diflucan (fluconazole) during the first trimester can put your baby at risk of birth defects. This is very rare.

A single 150 milligram (mg) dose of Diflucan is considered safe for your child.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection caused by the overgrowth of bacteria. It may sometimes cause a yellow discharge during pregnancy.

Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis

BV can be asymptomatic (not cause any symptoms). If you do have symptoms, they may include:

How Can BV Affect My Pregnancy?

BV can increase the risk of:

  • Premature rupture of membranes (commonly called your water breaking)
  • Preterm labor and delivery
  • Low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds)
  • Postpartum endometritis (irritation of the uterine lining after delivery)


Gonorrhea is an STI that can cause infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat. It's a common infection, especially among young people ages 15–24. It's a possible cause of yellow discharge during pregnancy.

Gonorrhea typically is treated with an injection of antibiotics. It's becoming harder to treat, though, because drug-resistant strains are on the rise.

Because of that, it's important to let your healthcare provider know if you still have symptoms a few days after treatment.

Symptoms of Gonorrhea

Symptoms can include some of the following:

  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Thick, cloudy, green or yellow discharge from the vagina
  • Genital itching
  • Soreness
  • Bleeding
  • Painful bowel movements

How Can Gonorrhea Affect My Pregnancy?

You can pass gonorrhea to your baby during childbirth. The infection also increases the risk of:

  • Miscarriage (spontaneous loss of pregnancy)
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • Chorioamnionitis (a bacterial infection of the membrane that surrounds the baby and the amniotic fluid and affects both the mother and baby)

If the infection is passed during delivery and isn't treated, it could cause an eye infection in your newborn.


Chlamydia is a common STI that primarily affects people ages 15–24. If left untreated, it can cause reproductive challenges, ectopic pregnancy (fertilized egg implanting and growing outside the womb), and infertility.

Symptoms of Chlamydia

Symptoms of chlamydia include:

How Can Chlamydia Affect My Pregnancy?

Chlamydia during pregnancy can put you at risk of:

  • Preterm labor
  • Premature rupture of membranes,
  • A baby with low birth weight

Newborns who are exposed to chlamydia during delivery can develop eye and lung infections.


Trichomoniasis is a vaginal infection caused by the sexually transmitted parasite Trichomonas vaginalis.

Symptoms of Trichomoniasis

Although most people report no symptoms from trichnomoniasis, you may have:

  • Itching
  • Irritation
  • Unusual odor
  • Greenish-yellow discharge that may be thick or thin and frothy
  • Pain during urination or sex

If you have a greenish-yellow discharge during pregnancy, see your healthcare provider right away.

How Can Trichomoniasis Affect My Pregnancy?

Trichomoniasis infection in pregnancy can increase the risk of:

  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • Preterm birth
  • Low birth weight infants

On rare occasions, a newborn girl can acquire the infection during delivery and may have vaginal discharge.

Amniotic Fluid Leak

Amniotic fluid is a clear and slightly yellow liquid that surrounds and cushions the fetus in the amniotic sac.

Membranes, or tissue, hold the fluid in the sac and usually don't rupture until you're in labor or within 24 hours of the start of labor. If you notice a yellowish fluid that either gushes or continuously trickles, it could be a sign that the membrane has ruptured.

Symptoms of Amniotic Fluid Leaks

If you have a sudden gush of fluid, that's often a clear sign of a membrane rupture. However, if there is a small leak that releases fluid slowly, it can be harder to tell the difference between leaking amniotic fluid, urine, or vaginal discharge.

Symptoms of an amniotic fluid leak can include:

  • Continuous trickle of fluid
  • Thin and watery discharge
  • No odor or slightly sweet smell

The main difference between urine and amniotic fluid is that urine will have a stronger smell. If you notice watery fluid and are unclear if it might be urine or amniotic fluid, put on a pad. If it's urine, you should notice more of a urine smell on the pad over time.

Amniotic Fluid Leak
  • No odor or slightly sweet smell

  • Can be a continuous trickle

Urine Leak
  • Standard urine smell

  • Occurs periodically, such as during shift in movement or coughing

How Can An Amniotic Fluid Leak Affect My Pregnancy?

Regardless of where you are in the pregnancy, contact your healthcare provider immediately if you suspect that you may be leaking amniotic fluid. An amniotic fluid leak increases the risk of infection and requires prompt care to protect you and your baby.

If you are at least 37 weeks, it could be a sign that labor is about to begin. Your healthcare provider will want to monitor you to make sure you are progressing into labor. The longer it takes for labor to start, the greater the risk for infection, so your healthcare provider may want to induce labor through medications within hours.

If you are leaking amniotic fluid before 37 weeks, it is considered a pre-term premature rupture of membranes and can be more serious.

If you are between 34 and 37 weeks, your healthcare provider may recommend induction for early labor due to the risk of infection.

If it's before 34 weeks, your healthcare provider may consider putting you on bed rest if there aren't any signs of infection. They may prescribe antibiotics to help prevent infection and also steroids to help the fetal lungs develop more quickly. You will be monitored closely at a hospital and tests may be done to check on lung development. If the lungs have grown, induction may be recommended.

Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy
Discharge Normal? What to Know
Thin, clear, or milky white; mild odor Yes Often increases throughout pregnancy
Thin, watery, yellow Uncertain  Could be urine or a sign of an infection or amniotic fluid leak
Thick, yellow, itching/burning  No Likely a vaginal yeast infection
Foul-smelling, yellow   No May be from a sexually transmitted infection or yeast infection


Vaginal discharge during pregnancy is very common and can increase as the pregnancy progresses.

Some discharge is normal and healthy, but some types of discharge, including foul-smelling or yellow discharge during pregnancy can be a sign of infection.

Many infections are treatable during pregnancy. Untreated, they can cause health concerns for both you and your baby.

A Word From Verywell

If you have discharge during pregnancy that seems abnormal, other symptoms of infection, or a known exposure to an STI, see your healthcare provider. With safe treatments readily available, there's no reason to let something go untreated.

If it turns out to be nothing, at least your provider can give you peace of mind so you don't needlessly worry.

9 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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  2. Giakoumelou S, Wheelhouse N, Cuschieri K, Entrican G, Howie SEM, Horne AW. The role of infection in miscarriageHum Reprod Update. 2016;22(1):116-133. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmv041

  3. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office on Women's Health. Vaginal yeast infections.

  4. Food and Drug Administration: FDA Drug Safety Communication. Use of long-term, high-dose Diflucan (fluconazole) during pregnancy may be associated with birth defects in infants.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bacterial vaginosis – CDC fact sheet.

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gonorrhea – CDC fact sheet.

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. STDs during pregnancy – CDC fact sheet (detailed).

  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chlamydia – CDC fact sheet.

  9. MedlinePlus. Premature rupture of membranes.