Leukorrhea (also spelled leucorrhoea) might sound like an unpleasant medical condition, but it’s actually very important for keeping you and your baby healthy during pregnancy.
But plot twist: Leukorrhea isn’t exclusively pregnancy discharge—it’s just when we tend to hear the word most often.
You probably already know it as vaginal discharge, vaginal mucus, or even just discharge.
Basically, it’s the natural secretions that come out of your vagina when you’re not on your period.
So, what does pregnancy discharge look like, why is leukorrhea so important, and does it ever need to be treated?
Let’s find out.
In this article: 📝
- What is leukorrhea?
- What does leukorrhea look like?
- What does pregnancy discharge look like?
- How much discharge is normal during pregnancy?
- How to get rid of smelly discharge during pregnancy
- How long does leukorrhea last
- Does leukorrhea mean you’re pregnant?
- Staying comfortable with leukorrhea
What is leukorrhea?
Leukorrhea is basically vaginal discharge that you might see in your underwear or on the toilet paper after you pee.
And it’s usually a positive sign that your vaginal pH levels are healthy.
That’s because leukorrhea helps keep the vaginal tissues moist and wash away any germs or bad bacteria.
Physiologic leukorrhea is the medical term used to describe vaginal discharge when not pregnant, but typically, you’ll notice leukorrhea pregnancy discharge throughout each trimester.
Every person with a vagina will experience leukorrhea during their life, and it’s typically nothing to worry about.
It’s only a red flag when your discharge starts to look abnormal in color and consistency with a notable foul smell – that could be an early sign of infection.
When does leukorrhea start?
Usually, people with vaginas will first experience leukorrhea around their first period.
It could be six months before your first period or any time in the run-up.
From that point on, leukorrhea is here to stay!
What does leukorrhea look like?
Pale yellow is normal too.
This is down to your hormone estrogen peaking, enabling sperm to swim up to the egg and fertilize it.
What does pregnancy discharge look like?
Leukorrhea can look a little different during pregnancy — after all, it’s a big change for your body — but it still goes through a number of changes.
Equally, watery discharge during pregnancy may become the norm for you as your body produces more leukorrhea week by week.
The point is, different types of pregnancy discharge are normal.
It’s when you spot slightly orange discharge or notice a strong pregnancy discharge smell that alarm bells should ring.
These could be signs of vaginal infections and a solid nudge to check in with your healthcare provider.
What does early pregnancy discharge look like?
Generally speaking, a creamy white early pregnancy discharge is what a lot of our mamas-to-be on Peanut report.
But it will typically take the form of whatever ‘normal’ leukorrhea looks like for you.
So if you’re feeling extra wet early into your first trimester, that’s totally normal.
But get used to it, as your body may be producing more leukorrhea the further along you go!
Ovulation discharge vs pregnancy discharge
Ovulation discharge looks a little different from leukorrhea pregnancy discharge.
Typically, ovulation discharge will be stretchier, like egg whites, and will only last a short time before dropping down to a more tacky consistency.
And there’ll be less of it.
But an increase in discharge is actually one of the earliest pregnancy signs.
This is because your body is working double time to clean itself out, prevent infection, and start forming your mucus plug.
How much discharge is normal during pregnancy?
As we mentioned above, you may see a lot more mucus-like discharge during pregnancy than you’re used to.
It’s a result of pregnancy hormones, such as estrogen, boosting blood flow to your vagina.
And this prompts the mucus membranes there to produce extra leukorrhea.
Why? Well, so that your vaginal discharge can do an even better job at keeping your vagina clean, free from bad bacteria, and with a healthy balance of good bacteria.
Ultimately, that excessive discharge during pregnancy is there to help prevent you from getting any infections, which can lead to health risks for you and your little peanut.
And it will only increase again as you get closer to labor.
How to get rid of smelly discharge during pregnancy
Healthy leukorrhea is a natural bodily substance, but if it starts to smell stronger and fouler, it’s often a sign of infection.
Other red flags to watch out for, include:
- Gray, green, or dark yellow leukorrhea
- Discharge that is very thick or clumpy like cottage cheese
- Irritation in your vaginal area
- Abdominal pain
- Pain during sex or while peeing
- Vaginal itching
These could point to an infection such as bacterial vaginosis (BV), a yeast infection, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), or a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Most bacterial infections and STDs 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 doctor if you suspect you might have one or if you have any changes in your leukorrhea.
It’s especially important to clear up any infection before your little one is born.
How long does leukorrhea last
Your ‘normal’ leukorrhea will last from around your first period for the rest of your life — yup, it’s here to stay!
But heavier pregnancy discharge will start to return to normal levels once baby’s born.
It can take a little while to get back to your normal leukorrhea levels — especially with your fluctuating hormones, so give yourself some time to recover, mama.
Does leukorrhea mean you’re pregnant?
But increased leukorrhea isn’t, by itself, a sure-fire sign of pregnancy.
The best way to see if you’re pregnant? Take a pregnancy test.
Can you get leukorrhea and not be pregnant?
It’s totally normal to have leukorrhea—even when not expecting.
Some people with vaginas have a lot of leukorrhea regularly throughout their menstrual cycle, while others just have a little.
And if you’ve noticed your leukorrhea discharge is ‘staining’ your underwear, don’t let stigma fool you — that’s incredibly common too.
A healthy vagina generally has a pH level between 3.8-4.5, making it acidic, so your leukorrhea can ‘bleach’ some fabrics.
Think of it as a sign that your vagina is healthy and happy!
Staying comfortable with leukorrhea
Leukorrhea and pregnancy discharge 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 leukorrhea. 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 ‘clean’ with plain water. Scented soaps, shower gels, and vaginal douches can disrupt the balance of bacteria though, so it’s best to stick to the old H20.
There you have it ‒ all there is to know about leukorrhea and pregnancy discharge.
Leukorrhea is a natural part of women’s lives, and we’re not ashamed to shout about it.