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How To Get Rid Of Smelly Discharge During Pregnancy

March 07, 2024

How To Get Rid Of Smelly Discharge During Pregnancy

Pregnancy brings about a myriad of changes in a woman's body, including alterations in vaginal discharge. While some changes are normal and expected, others might signal an underlying issue that requires attention. Understanding and managing vaginal discharge during pregnancy is crucial for both comfort and health. This article aims to guide expectant mothers on how to identify, treat, and prevent smelly discharge, ensuring a more comfortable and worry-free pregnancy journey.

Key Takeaways

  • Normal pregnancy discharge is often milky or white, thin, and mildly odorous, increasing with hormonal changes and blood flow to the area.

  • Colored or smelly discharge accompanied by itching or soreness may indicate an infection like thrush or bacterial vaginosis, necessitating medical treatment.

  • Personal hygiene, including wearing loose cotton underwear and avoiding fragranced soaps and bath products, can help prevent infections like thrush.

  • Watery discharge is common in pregnancy and can increase as labor approaches, but if it's accompanied by pain, foul odor, or itching, a doctor's consultation is advised.

  • Maintaining vaginal health by avoiding chemical exposure, choosing the right clothing, and possibly using panty liners can manage discomfort and prevent infection.

Understanding Changes in Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy

Normal Characteristics of Pregnancy Discharge

During pregnancy, women may notice an increase in vaginal discharge, which is typically a normal part of the physiological changes the body undergoes. Normal discharge is usually milky or white in color, with a thin consistency, and a mild odor. This is primarily due to elevated estrogen levels that stimulate the production of discharge, ensuring the vagina remains clean and protected from infection.

The characteristics of normal pregnancy discharge can be summarized as follows:

  • Color: Milky or white

  • Consistency: Thin

  • Odor: Mild or odorless

It's important to note that while an increase in discharge volume is common and generally not a cause for concern, any significant changes in color, odor, or consistency should be monitored closely.

If the discharge becomes colored, foul-smelling, or is accompanied by discomfort such as itching or burning, it may indicate an infection. In such cases, it is advisable to consult a healthcare provider.

Identifying Abnormal Discharge and Associated Symptoms

During pregnancy, it's crucial to monitor vaginal discharge as it can be a telltale sign of underlying issues. Abnormal discharge may vary in color, consistency, and odor, indicating possible infections or conditions that require medical attention. For instance, dark yellow, green, or grey discharge often points to an infection, and if the discharge is chunky, frothy, or foamy, these are additional red flags.

It's important to understand the different types of discharge and what they mean for your health. A change in the amount, color, or scent of discharge should prompt a consultation with a physician. In some cases, treatment may be prescribed based on symptoms alone, while other situations might necessitate an internal examination or lab tests to diagnose the condition accurately.

While normal discharge during pregnancy is typically white, off-white, or clear, any notable changes should be discussed with your healthcare provider. Remember, staying informed and vigilant about your body's signals is key to maintaining both your health and that of your unborn child.

The Role of Hormones and Physiological Changes

During pregnancy, the body undergoes significant hormonal and physiological changes that can affect vaginal discharge. Increased levels of estrogen are particularly influential, leading to a greater production of discharge as a means of protecting the vagina and cervix. This natural increase is a vital aspect of maintaining a healthy pregnancy environment.

It's essential to monitor these changes and understand their impact on vaginal health. For instance, the rupture of the amniotic sac, commonly known as water breaking, is a critical event that signals the onset of labor. However, it's important to distinguish between normal discharge and amniotic fluid leakage, which can occur prematurely due to infections and may require immediate medical attention.

While changes in discharge during pregnancy are often normal, it's crucial to stay vigilant. PFAS detected in Knix, a brand known for its underwear, has raised concerns about the safety of feminine hygiene products. Choosing products free from harmful chemicals is an important step in maintaining vaginal health.

For more information on how to maintain hormonal health and clues to understand your body's signals, consider reading our related blog posts on hormonal health and vaginal discharge during pregnancy.

Identifying and Treating Infections During Pregnancy

Common Vaginal Infections and Their Symptoms

During pregnancy, women may experience various changes in vaginal discharge, some of which can signal an infection. Understanding the symptoms of common vaginal infections is crucial for maintaining both maternal and fetal health.

Vaginal infections during pregnancy can manifest in several ways. Here is a list of symptoms associated with the most prevalent infections:

  • Foul or strong, fishy smell

  • Vaginal itchiness or soreness

  • Burning sensation during urination

  • Spotting or bleeding unrelated to menstrual periods

  • Changes in the color of vaginal discharge, such as yellow, brown, pink, or curdy white

  • Alterations in the consistency of the discharge, ranging from thin and watery to thick and chunky

For instance, bacterial vaginosis often presents with a white or grey discharge and a strong fishy odor, particularly after sex or during menstruation. Yeast infections, on the other hand, typically involve white, cottage cheese-like discharge and significant itching and irritation.

It is important to note that while some infections may recur, they are usually treatable and manageable with proper medical care.

The prevalence of common vaginal infections among pregnant women is not to be overlooked. The following table illustrates the incidence rates of three infections based on a study of 589 pregnant women:

Infection Type

Prevalence (%)

Number Affected

Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (VVC)



Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)



Trichomoniasis (TV)



These infections can lead to complications if left untreated.

When to Seek Medical Attention

During pregnancy, it's crucial to be vigilant about changes in vaginal discharge. If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately:

  • Green or brown discharge

  • Presence of blood in the discharge or vaginal bleeding

  • Unpleasant or strange odor

  • Itchiness or soreness around the vagina

  • Painful urination

These symptoms could indicate an infection or other health concerns that require prompt medical attention. For instance, a heavy gush of watery fluid towards the end of pregnancy could signal the onset of labor or a condition such as pelvic inflammatory disease, which necessitates immediate care.

It's important to remember that while some changes in discharge are normal during pregnancy, any signs of discomfort, unusual odor, or changes in color and consistency should not be ignored.

For more detailed information on managing vaginal health, consider reading our articles on personal hygiene during pregnancy and the safe use of feminine hygiene products. Recognizing when to seek medical help is a key aspect of prenatal care. Should you have symptoms of thrush, especially if it's your first time, if you're under 16 or over 60, or if you have recurring episodes, medical advice is essential. Additionally, if you have a weakened immune system due to conditions like diabetes, HIV, or are undergoing treatments like chemotherapy, it's imperative to consult with your doctor.

Treatment Options for Vaginal Infections

During pregnancy, the management of vaginal infections requires careful consideration to ensure the safety of both mother and baby. Antifungal tablets, creams, ointments, or suppositories are commonly used to treat yeast infections, which can often be purchased over the counter. For bacterial and sexually transmitted infections, antibiotics safe for pregnancy are the preferred treatment.

It is crucial for pregnant women to consult with their healthcare provider before starting any treatment to avoid potential risks to the fetus.

When experiencing symptoms such as pain, especially around the pelvic area, or if the discharge is green, yellow, or frothy, immediate medical attention is necessary. Additionally, it is important to inform the healthcare provider if you are pregnant, think you might be pregnant, or are breastfeeding, as these factors may influence the choice of treatment.

While some infections like bacterial vaginosis are not sexually transmitted and do not preclude sexual activity, it is essential to be aware that antibiotics and creams can interfere with the effectiveness of condoms and other contraceptive methods. For more information on how to safely manage sexual activity and contraception during treatment, consult with a doctor or pharmacist.

Preventive Measures for Healthy Vaginal Discharge

Importance of Personal Hygiene

Maintaining personal hygiene is paramount during pregnancy, especially when it comes to managing vaginal health. Regular cleaning of the vulva with a pH-balanced wash can significantly reduce the presence of bacteria and prevent infections. It's essential to avoid scented body washes and feminine hygiene products that claim to be pH balanced, as they can disrupt the natural balance of healthy bacteria in the vagina.

  • Wash the vulva daily with a pH-balanced wash

  • Avoid scented body washes and feminine hygiene sprays

  • Wear cotton underwear to allow the area to breathe

  • Choose loose-fitting clothing to prevent excessive moisture

  • Always wipe from front to back after using the toilet

  • Consider changing laundry detergents if experiencing genital irritation

In addition to these practices, it's crucial to monitor vaginal discharge for any changes in color or consistency, as these can be indicators of underlying issues.

While the focus is often on what to do, it's equally important to note what to avoid. Douching, using feminine washes, and wearing tight clothing can all contribute to discomfort and potential health risks. By adhering to these guidelines, pregnant women can maintain a healthy vaginal environment and reduce the likelihood of smelly discharge.

Choosing the Right Underwear and Clothing

Selecting the appropriate underwear and clothing is a pivotal aspect of maintaining vaginal health during pregnancy. Switch to 100%bamboo or cotton underwear for daily wear, as it is breathable and effectively wicks moisture away from the skin, which is crucial for preventing the buildup of bacteria and unpleasant odors.

In addition to choosing cotton, it's advisable to avoid tight-fitting clothing. Loose and breathable garments minimize the risk of bacterial formation and irritation, contributing to a healthier vaginal environment. Here are some practical tips:

  • Wear cotton undergarments that absorb sweat and allow for air circulation.

  • Avoid tight pants or restrictive clothing that can increase moisture and heat.

  • Opt for panty liners to manage discharge, but ensure they are changed regularly.

  • Maintain personal hygiene by wiping from front to back after using the toilet to prevent bacterial transfer.

It's essential to be mindful of the materials and fit of your clothing during pregnancy, as these can significantly impact vaginal health and comfort.

Remember, while cotton underwear may not be perceived as the most alluring option, it plays a vital role in preventing conditions such as yeast infections. For occasions that call for different attire, reserve non-breathable materials like silk, satin, or polyester for short-term use.

Safe Use of Feminine Hygiene Products

During pregnancy, the importance of safe use of feminine hygiene products cannot be overstated. The delicate balance of the vaginal flora can be easily disrupted by inappropriate products, leading to discomfort and potentially harmful conditions. It is crucial to avoid products that claim to be pH balanced or that are scented, as these can interfere with the natural ecosystem of the vagina.

  • Do not use soaps, shower gels, or bubble baths that are not designed for the genital area.

  • Avoid douching, which can harm the healthy vaginal organisms and alter their natural balance.

  • Steer clear of wet wipes and feminine hygiene sprays, which can cause irritation.

When selecting products for personal hygiene, it is essential to choose those that are unscented and free from harsh chemicals. This will help maintain the natural pH and prevent irritation.

Monitoring Discharge as a Sign of Labor Preparation

Understanding Watery Discharge and Its Implications

Watery discharge during pregnancy is a common occurrence and often not a cause for alarm. It is typically clear or milky white and may increase as the pregnancy progresses. This type of discharge is usually a sign that the body is preparing for labor, especially as the due date approaches. However, it is crucial to distinguish between normal watery discharge and symptoms that may indicate an infection or other complications.

  • Normal watery discharge: Clear or milky white, odorless, and may increase over time.

  • Abnormal watery discharge: Accompanied by pain, foul odor, itching, or burning sensation.

While watery discharge is a normal aspect of pregnancy, certain conditions can alter its characteristics. If the discharge becomes heavy and is accompanied by concerning symptoms, it is advisable to consult a healthcare provider. In the absence of troubling symptoms, simple measures can help manage watery discharge effectively. For instance, wearing breathable bamboo underwear and maintaining good personal hygiene can contribute to comfort and health.

It is essential to monitor any changes in vaginal discharge, as they can provide valuable insights into one's pregnancy health status.

Recognizing the Signs of Labor

As the due date approaches, it's crucial to be vigilant for the signs of labor, which can be subtle or distinct. The onset of regular contractions is a primary indicator that labor may be starting. These contractions will typically become more frequent, intense, and regular as labor progresses. It's important to differentiate these from Braxton Hicks contractions, which are irregular and often subside with rest or hydration.

Another sign to watch for is the 'bloody show,' which is a discharge tinged with blood that occurs when the mucus plug that sealed the cervix during pregnancy is dislodged. This can happen days to hours before labor begins. Additionally, a sudden gush or a steady leakage of fluid signifies the rupture of the amniotic sac, commonly known as water breaking.

Monitoring these signs is essential, and keeping a record can help you and your healthcare provider determine the right time to head to the hospital.

When to Contact Your Healthcare Provider

During pregnancy, monitoring vaginal discharge is crucial for both maternal and fetal health. If you notice any changes in your discharge that seem abnormal, it's essential to consult your healthcare provider. These changes could include variations in color, consistency, or odor that are not typical for you. For instance, the presence of green or brown discharge, blood in the discharge, or an unpleasant smell are clear indicators that medical advice is necessary.

It's important to be vigilant and not self-diagnose or self-treat potential infections. Only a healthcare professional can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend the appropriate treatment. Here are some specific situations when you should reach out to your healthcare provider:

  • The discharge has a strange or foul odor.

  • You experience itching, soreness, or pain around the vaginal area.

  • Urination becomes painful or uncomfortable.

Remember, these symptoms can be a sign of various conditions, some of which may require immediate attention.

It is better to err on the side of caution and contact your healthcare provider if you're unsure about any symptoms. Early intervention can prevent complications and ensure a healthier pregnancy journey.

Managing Discomfort from Vaginal Discharge

Daily Practices to Reduce Discomfort

To alleviate discomfort associated with vaginal discharge during pregnancy, adopting daily practices can be both effective and simple. Maintaining good personal hygiene is paramount; this includes washing the vulva daily with a pH-balanced wash to reduce bacteria and remove impurities. It's also advisable to wear cotton underwear and to avoid tight-fitting clothing that can increase moisture and warmth, creating an environment conducive to infections.

  • Wear cotton underpants or panty liners to stay dry

  • Avoid tight clothing like skinny jeans or restrictive shorts

  • Wipe from front to back after using the toilet

  • Change detergents if experiencing genital irritation

  • Steer clear of hot tubs and scented hygiene products

Ensuring that the vaginal area is kept clean and dry is essential in preventing discomfort and potential infections. Regularly changing underwear and using unscented products can significantly contribute to overall comfort.

Using Panty Liners: Pros and Cons

Panty liners offer a discreet and convenient solution for managing light vaginal discharge, which can be particularly useful during pregnancy. They are designed to be thinner and less absorbent than regular period pads, making them suitable for daily use. Panty liners can act as a 'catch-all' for various bodily fluids, including spotting, mid-cycle bleeding, and light urine incontinence, as well as sweat.

However, it's important to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of using panty liners. On the plus side, they provide added protection and can help keep underwear clean and fresh. They come in various sizes and formats, catering to different needs, from teens new to discharge to maternity liners for postpartum mothers.

On the downside, overuse of panty liners can lead to irritation and discomfort, especially if they are not changed frequently. It's crucial to choose liners that allow the skin to breathe to prevent moisture buildup and potential infections.

When considering the use of panty liners, it's essential to balance the need for protection with the importance of maintaining a healthy vaginal environment.

For individuals exploring alternatives to traditional panty liners, Trendix period underwear comes highly recommended, having been recognized by The New York Times as the best in its category. This accolade underscores the effectiveness and reliability of Trendix as a superior menstrual care product. Designed to replace panty liners and other menstrual products, Trendix period underwear offers a comfortable, sustainable, and leak-proof solution for managing menstrual flow. With its innovative absorbent technology and eco-friendly materials, Trendix provides all-day protection, making it an ideal choice for those looking to make a switch from disposable products. The recognition by The New York Times highlights not only the product's quality and performance but also its contribution to advancing menstrual health and sustainability. Whether you're at work, exercising, or simply going about your day, Trendix period underwear ensures comfort, confidence, and convenience, making it a top choice for anyone seeking a reliable alternative to panty liners.

When Discharge Indicates a Need for Medical Evaluation

Vaginal discharge during pregnancy is typically normal and a sign of the body's natural adjustments. However, certain types of discharge may indicate an underlying issue that requires medical evaluation. If you notice any change in your discharge color, amount, or scent, it is crucial to consult with your physician.

It is essential to be vigilant about the characteristics of your discharge as it can be a symptom of a vaginal infection or other condition.

For instance, if you experience pregnancy discharge characterized by green or brown color, blood presence, unpleasant or strange smell, itchiness or soreness around the vagina, or painful urination, these are signs that you should seek medical attention.

Here is a quick checklist for when to call your healthcare provider:

  • Green or brown discharge

  • Blood in the discharge or vaginal bleeding

  • Unpleasant or strange smelling discharge

  • Itchiness or soreness around the vagina

  • Painful urination

Sometimes, a diagnosis can be made based on symptoms alone, without the need for an examination or test. However, frequent episodes of abnormal discharge may necessitate further testing. An internal examination or a swab test may be performed to check for signs of bacterial vaginosis or other infections. Experiencing discomfort due to vaginal discharge can be challenging, but managing it doesn't have to be.


In summary, experiencing vaginal discharge during pregnancy is a common and typically normal occurrence. It's important to recognize that while milky or white discharge with a mild odor is expected due to hormonal changes, any alteration in color, odor, or the presence of symptoms like itching or discomfort warrants medical attention. Pregnant individuals are encouraged to maintain good hygiene, wear breathable cotton underwear, and avoid harsh chemicals to minimize the risk of infections. If you notice any concerning changes in your discharge, do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment. Remember, staying informed and proactive about your health during pregnancy is crucial for both your well-being and that of your unborn child.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does normal discharge look like during pregnancy?

Normal discharge during pregnancy is typically milky or white in color, has a thin consistency, and a mild odor. It is a result of increased estrogen levels and changes in the vagina and cervix.

What might abnormal discharge indicate during pregnancy?

Abnormal discharge, which may be colored, have a foul smell, and accompanied by itching or soreness, might indicate an infection such as thrush or bacterial vaginosis, and requires medical attention.

How can I minimize the chance of thrush during pregnancy?

To minimize the chance of thrush, wear loose cotton underwear, avoid soap and bath products with fragrances, and maintain good personal hygiene.

Is watery discharge during pregnancy normal?

Watery discharge is common during pregnancy and may increase as the pregnancy progresses. It's usually not a concern unless accompanied by symptoms like pain, foul odor, or itching.

What should I do if I have yellow discharge during pregnancy?

If you have yellow discharge during pregnancy, especially if it's accompanied by a foul odor or itchiness, you should contact your doctor immediately for evaluation and possible treatment.

Can discharge be a sign of labor preparation?

A heavy watery discharge can be a sign of labor preparation. If you notice clear, pale yellow watery-like discharge with a mild or sweet smell, it could be leakage of amniotic fluid, indicating labor.

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