Vaginal discharge can be a normal part of a woman’s reproductive cycle. However, unusual discharge can have various causes. During pregnancy, vaginal discharge can change due to normal pregnancy conditions or due to certain health problems. Tell your doctor about any unusual vaginal discharge, especially if you are an expectant mother.
During your reproductive years, the glands inside your vagina and cervix produce small amounts of fluid. As the fluid moves through your vagina, it carries away old cells that lined your vagina. This discharge is your body’s method of protecting the healthy environment of your vagina. Normal discharge is milky or clear and usually does not produce an unpleasant odor.
A common condition of early pregnancy involves slight bleeding or spotting. Vaginal discharge that is slightly pink or brown in color may appear when the fertilized egg implants itself into the lining of your uterus. This type of bloody discharge normally occurs a few days before your expected period and is often the first sign of pregnancy. Implantation spotting is usually not a concern, given that you may not even know you’re pregnant at this point. However, contact your doctor immediately if you experience bloody discharge at any time during your pregnancy.
Unusual discharge can occur for a variety of reasons that don’t involve your pregnancy. Vaginitis is an infection or inflammation of the vagina; symptoms include changes to your normal discharge. You may notice an increase in the amount of your discharge, as well as changes in the color and the smell. Vaginitis occurs when something upsets the balance of bacteria within your vagina. Causes of these changes include pregnancy, diabetes, antibiotics, bubble baths and infections.
An upset in the bacterial balance within your body can also result in a yeast infection. Pregnancy — with all the changes that it causes — makes yeast infections more likely to occur. If your discharge has the consistency of cottage cheese and has a yeasty odor, such an infection may be the cause. Other common symptoms of a yeast infection include itching, painful intercourse, swelling and pain around the vulva.
While nonprescription medications may help with some causes of vaginal discharge, such as yeast infections, other conditions, such as bacterial infections and sexually transmitted diseases, can require medical testing and treatment. Ensure the health of you and your baby by checking with your doctor if you experience abnormal changes in your discharge.