Leukorrhea. Nope, not an unpleasant (and difficult to spell) medical condition, but something that’s very important for keeping you, and the baby you’re growing, healthy.
You’ve probably heard leukorrhea called vaginal discharge, vaginal mucus or even just discharge. Basically, it’s the stuff that comes out of your vagina when you’re not on your period.
So, what does leukorrhea look like, why is it so important, and does it ever need to be treated? Let’s find out.
Table of Contents 📝
- What is leukorrhea?
- What is the cause of leukorrhea in pregnancy?
- How is leukorrhea treated?
- Staying comfortable with leukorrhea
What is leukorrhea?
What is the difference between leukorrhea and normal discharge? Answer: There isn’t one! Leukorrhea is the medical jargon term for vaginal discharge. It’s a clear or milky white fluid that’s either odorless or slightly sweet-smelling. It varies in consistency from watery to creamy to sticky to slippery, depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle.
For example, around ovulation the discharge is more slippery and stretchy, a little like egg whites. This is to enable sperm to swim up to the egg and fertilize it. On the other hand, discharge before your period tends to be thicker and cloudier.
So, if you see leukorrhea in your underwear or on the toilet paper after you pee, it’s usually a positive sign that your vagina is healthy. That’s because the leukorrhea is helping to keep the vaginal tissues moist and wash away any germs or bad bacteria.
What is the cause of leukorrhea in pregnancy?
Leukorrhea in pregnancy is also called “pregnancy discharge”. You may see a lot more discharge than you’re used to once you get pregnant. In fact, an increase in leukorrhea in early pregnancy can be one of the first signs that you’re expecting!
Your body produces more leukorrhea during pregnancy as a result of pregnancy hormones, such as estrogen, boosting blood flow to your vagina. This prompts the mucus membranes there to produce extra leukorrhea.
Why? Well, so that the discharge can do an even better job than in non-pregnancy times at keeping your vagina clean, free from bad bacteria, and with a healthy balance of good bacteria. This helps to prevent you from getting any infections, which can lead to health risks for you and your little peanut.
You might spot even more pregnancy discharge when you’re approaching your due date. If it contains streaks of blood, that’s what’s known as a bloody show – an early sign that labor is on the way.
How is leukorrhea treated?
If you’re experiencing leukorrhea discharge during pregnancy and it resembles what we’ve described above, it sounds like your vagina is doing a good job. Healthy leukorrhea is a natural bodily substance!
However, if your leukorrhea changes and you have any of the following symptoms, give your healthcare provider a call:
- Green or yellow discharge
- Discharge that is very thick with a strong, unpleasant smell
- Irritation in your vaginal area
- Abdominal pain
- Pain during sex or while peeing
These could be signs of an infection, such as bacterial vaginosis, a yeast infection, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), or an STI.
Most bacterial infections can be treated effectively with a course of antibiotics, or for a yeast infection you may be given an antifungal cream to apply.
Infections tend to be easier to treat early on, so don’t hesitate to contact your doc if you suspect you might have one. It’s especially important to clear up any infection before your little one is born.
Staying comfortable with leukorrhea
Leukorrhea in pregnancy may be great for a healthy vagina, but it can leave you feeling a bit damp and uncomfortable at times. Here are some simple steps you can take to tackle this:
- Use a pantyliner: An unscented cotton pantyliner can help soak up the extra moisture. But don’t be tempted to use a tampon during pregnancy, as this can increase your risk of infection.
- Grab some new underwear: There’s no reason why you can’t just change your underwear more often if that keeps you drier and more comfortable.
- Wash with water: If you want to freshen up down there, have a quick wash with plain water. Scented soaps and shower gels, or douches can disrupt the balance of bacteria down there, so it’s best to stick to the old H20.