Yellow Discharge During Pregnancy

Yellow discharge during pregnancy isn't always cause for concern, but 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

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

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

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

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.

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 an sexually transmitted infection or yeast infection

Summary

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What color is discharge when pregnant?

    Harmless, healthy discharge is usually white and has a mild odor. It can increase in volume during your pregnancy. Using a panty liner can protect your clothes.

  • Can yellow discharge mean miscarriage?

    Yellow discharge during pregnancy can be a sign of infection. Infections, when left untreated, can put a pregnancy at risk of miscarriage.

6 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.
  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office on Women's Health. Vaginal yeast infections.

  2. 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.

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

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

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

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