Leukorrhea (also spelled leucorrhoea) might sound like an unpleasant medical condition, but it’s actually very important for keeping you, and the baby you’re growing, healthy: pregnancy discharge.
You’ve probably heard leukorrhea called vaginal discharge, physiologic leukorrhea, vaginal mucus, or even just discharge.
Leukorrhea isn’t exclusively pregnancy discharge, but that’s when we tend to hear the word most often.
Basically, it’s the stuff that comes 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 causes leukorrhea?
- How is leukorrhea treated?
- Does leukorrhea mean you’re pregnant?
- Staying comfortable with leukorrhea
What is leukorrhea?
How do you define leukorrhea?
Leukorrhea (or leucorrhea) is essentially vaginal discharge ‒ a sign of a healthy vagina.
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 leukorrhea is helping to 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 you can also get pregnancy discharge throughout each trimester.
What are the signs of leukorrhea?
Every person with a vagina will experience leukorrhea during their life.
The main sign of leukorrhea is the discharge itself ‒ you’ll notice a creamy, clear (or white) liquid in your underwear.
Leukorrhea is nothing to worry about, unless you notice a change in your usual leucorrhea ‒ 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?
Typically, leukorrhea is a clear or milky white fluid that’s either odorless or slightly sweet-smelling.
Leucorrhea varies in consistency from watery to creamy to sticky to slippery, depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle.
For example, around ovulation, 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.
What does pregnancy discharge look like?
Leukorrhea can look a little different during pregnancy ‒ after all, it’s a big change for your body.
You might notice watery discharge during pregnancy, which could be due to your body producing more leukorrhea when pregnant.
This is usually nothing to worry about, unless you see a slightly orange discharge in pregnancy, or notice a pregnancy discharge smell.
These could be signs of vaginal infections ‒ if you think you might have unusual leukorrhea, it’s best to check in with your healthcare provider.
What does early pregnancy discharge look like?
In early pregnancy, cervical mucus could be more noticeable than usual, as your estrogen levels increase.
So if you’re feeling extra wet during early pregnancy, that’s totally normal.
But get used to it, as your body may be producing more leukorrhea the further you get in your pregnancy!
What does discharge in early pregnancy look like? Much the same as whatever ‘normal’ leukorrhea looks like for you.
Generally speaking, a creamy white early pregnancy discharge is what a lot of our mamas-to-be on Peanut have reported.
So leukorrhea in early pregnancy is nothing to worry about.
Ovulation discharge vs pregnancy discharge
Ovulation discharge looks a little different from leukorrhea and pregnancy discharge.
Typically, ovulation discharge will be stretchier, like egg whites ‒ this is to encourage sperm to reach their intended destination ‒ your egg.
What is the difference between leukorrhea and normal discharge?
There isn’t one!
Leukorrhea is the medical jargon term for vaginal discharge.
What causes leukorrhea?
Leukorrhea in pregnancy is also called “pregnancy discharge”.
You may see a lot more leukorrhea (pregnancy 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 pregnancy 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 leukorrhea ultimately helps to prevent you from getting any infections, which can lead to health risks for you and your little peanut.
Increased leukorrhea may be associated with your impending due date!
If your leucorrhea contains streaks of blood, that’s what’s known as a bloody show – an early sign that labor is on the way.
Does leukorrhea cause weakness?
Generally speaking, no, leukorrhea, in and of itself, doesn’t cause weakness.
But, if you’re not pregnant, an increase in leucorrhea, unusual-looking, or bad-smelling leukorrhea, could be a sign of infection, which can leave you feeling weak at the knees.
Can leukorrhea cause pain?
No ‒ leukorrhea doesn’t cause pain by itself.
But any change in your usual leucorrhea can be a sign of infection, which can cause some lower back or pelvic pain.
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 (BV), a yeast infection, 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 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 will 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 increased hormones, so give yourself some time to recover, mama.
Does leukorrhea mean you’re pregnant?
But increased leucorrhea isn’t, by itself, a sure-fire sign of pregnancy.
You could be feeling a few different early pregnancy symptoms ‒ which, typically, seem to mirror PMS symptoms.
The best way to see if you’re pregnant? Take a pregnancy test.
Is it normal to have leukorrhea?
Yes, it’s totally normal to have leukorrhea.
Some people with vaginas have a lot of leukorrhea regularly, while others just have a little.
And if you’ve noticed your leukorrhea discharge is ‘staining’ your underwear, that’s also totally normal.
This is because a healthy vagina generally has a pH level between 3.8-4.5, making it acidic, so your leukorrhea can ‘bleach’ some fabrics.
It’s a sign that your vagina is healthy and happy!
How long do you have leukorrhea before your period?
Having increased leukorrhea before period is totally normal ‒ around three or five days before your period, your leucorrhea might be whiter and thicker than usual.
Your leukorrhea is just doing what it does best: keeping your vagina happy and healthy.
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 and shower gels, or douches can disrupt the balance of bacteria down there, 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.
Why not join the Peanut community? We’re having the conversation.
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Vaginal Discomfort During Pregnancy: All the Info
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