Natural pregnancy discharge or something more serious? Here’s how you can tell the difference.

Home » Natural pregnancy discharge or something more serious? Here’s how you can tell the difference.

Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful experiences a woman has in her life, but it’s full of rollercoasters and unexpected surprises as well. Heartburn, morning sickness and a deep need for five naps a day are all expected – but what about the less talked about sides of pregnancy like vaginal discharge? Should you be worried?

Well, it all depends on what your ‘new’ normal is. Some women have an increase in their vaginal discharge during pregnancy, and some don’t have an increase at all. A gradual increase that feels like it’s all part of your pregnancy means you fall into the former group, but a sudden increase should be investigated to make sure there is no infection.

Here’s how to tell what’s merely annoying and what should be cause for concern (and a reason to seek medical attention):

Yeast Infection

The symptoms: Whether you’re pregnant or not, symptoms of a yeast infection include soreness and redness in the vaginal area, as well as an odourless, white discharge that resembles cottage cheese. For some women, a yeast infection can also make intercourse painful and burn when urinating.

Normal or not? Normal. Because of hormonal and other changes, yeast infections are very common during pregnancy, usually because of hormonal changes.

What to do: Consult your doctor about over-the-counter or prescription vaginal creams or suppositories. Depending on the severity of your infection, your doctor may want to rule out bacterial vaginosis or a sexually transmitted disease. Probiotics may also help.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

The symptoms: Bacterial vaginosis is an infection caused by an imbalance in the bacteria normally found in the vagina. You may have no symptoms, or it can produce a fishy-smelling discharge that you’ll notice most after sex. It can also cause itching and a burning sensation.

Normal or not? Not. Bacterial vaginosis starts out as a vaginal infection, but it can ascend into the uterus and cause premature rupture of the membranes and preterm birth.

What to do: See your doctor right away. Prescription medications can clear up symptoms without endangering the fetus and decrease the likelihood of preterm labour.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

The symptoms: There are a few STDs that result in discharge. For example, Chlamydia may produce no discharge or one that has a slight odour. A yellowish discharge might be a symptom of gonorrhea. Trichomoniasis (aka “trich”) has a foamy yellow-greenish discharge and is often associated with itching. All three infections can cause painful intercourse or urination.

Normal or not? Not. Sexually transmitted diseases can lead to preterm labour and uterine infections after delivery. Some organisms that cause STDs can also pass through the placenta and affect the fetus, while others can be transmitted to the baby during delivery.

What to do: Get tested by your doctor immediately. Many STDs can be safely treated with antibiotics during pregnancy.


The symptoms: There’s so much going on down there as your pregnancy develops that it’s not always easy to tell what it is. For example, do wet panties mean you’re leaking amniotic fluid or could it be urine? A good way to tell is to pay attention to when it happens. If you only leak occasionally (especially after you’ve coughed, sneezed or have a good laugh), it’s probably urine. The smell and colour are helpful indicators, too.

Normal or not? Normal. Unfortunately, leaking urine is one of the joys of pregnancy and is the result of the growing uterus putting pressure on the bladder.

What to do: Kegel exercises—contracting and releasing the muscles around the vagina—help some women control their bladders. You can also increase your bathroom visits and go before you have the actual sensation of needing to go. But whatever you do, don’t stop drinking lots of water, it’s critical to stay hydrated in an attempt to avoid the problem.

Amniotic Fluid

The symptoms: Amniotic fluid should be clear, but it can also be brown, green, pink-tinged or yellow. Unlike urine, if there is a problem, it won’t only happen sporadically. If your membranes are ruptured, you’ll leak fluid continuously. If you’re unsure whether its amniotic fluid or urine, put on a pad and lie down for about 30 minutes. If you feel a small gush when you stand, it could be amniotic fluid.

Normal or not? Not. Until she goes into labor, a pregnant woman should never be leaking amniotic fluid.

What to do: Call your doctor immediately.