What is Leukorrhea in Pregnancy?

Leukorrhea in Pregnancy

Pregnant woman with hands on stomach looking in mirror.
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What is Leukorrhea?

Leukorrhea is a mild, odorless discharge from the vagina that is clear or milky in color. Many times women think that having it means that they have a vaginal infection. It does not alone indicate a vaginal infection. There are a lot of pregnancy symptoms that don't make the top ten list in terms of how much you enjoy them, leukorrhea is one of those symptoms.

Leukorrhea should not smell nor should it itch.

You may have noticed it occasionally as a wetness in your underwear near ovulation. During pregnancy due to the increased blood flow to the vaginal area and the increase in pregnancy hormones, likes estrogen, you may notice more of this discharge.

Since it is made up of skin cells from your body it is not harmful and should not be considered a threat to the pregnancy. You may notice it throughout pregnancy or it may increase slightly as you near your due date. If you experience a lot of discharge consider wearing panty liners or small pads to help keep you feeling dry and fresh.

One woman described leukorrhea this way, "Nothing ever really came out, but when I would go to the bathroom and wipe, there it was. It was never quite heavy enough that I needed a pad or anything like that. I just assumed that I was wetter because of the pregnancy. I was halfway through my pregnancy before I thought to ask about it.

My midwife told me that as long as it didn't smell or itch, I shouldn't worry too much about it."

You should not use tampons, to cope with this discharge. You may wear panty liners or pads in your underwear to keep you comfortable and confident. These are considered safe in pregnancy. You should also only clean with regular bathing.

You should not douche in order to get rid of the discharge. This may increase the amount of discharge and lead to an infection.

Many women experience the pregnancy discharge and it is nothing to be concerned about. That doesn't mean it isn't annoying or sometimes worrisome. You would want to report it to your doctor or midwife if it ever became:

  • Heavy discharge
  • Chunky
  • Foul-smelling
  • Copious (large quantity)
  • Changed in a manner that concerned you

These changes may indicate an infection or a need for further investigation. In some cases experiencing leukorrhea can mean that you should be tested for sexually transmitted infections (STI). You will normally have a routine screening in early pregnancy, but if you ever experience new symptoms, be sure to ask for additional screening, no matter what point you're in in pregnancy.

Sources:

De Seta F, Restaino S, De Santo D, Stabile G, Banco R, Busetti M, Barbati G, Guaschino S. Contraception. 2012 Nov;86(5):526-9. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2012.02.012. Epub 2012 Apr 20. Effects of hormonal contraception on vaginal flora.

Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. Gabbe, S, Niebyl, J, Simpson, JL. Sixth Edition.

Hakakha MM, Davis J, Korst LM, Silverman NS. Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Oct;100(4):808-12. Leukorrhea and bacterial vaginosis as in-office predictors of cervical infection in high-risk women.

Pregnancy, Childbirth & The Newborn by Simkin, Whalley, Keppler, Durham & Bolding. 4th Edition 2010.

Steinhandler L, Peipert JF, Heber W, et al. Combination of bacterial vaginosis and leukorrhea as a predictor of cervical chlamydial or gonococcal infection. Obstet Gynecol 2002;99:603--7.

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