Vaginal health during pregnancy matters.
After all, this area of your body is a pretty major part of the whole pregnancy operation.
Your vagina goes through some pretty big changes during pregnancy, making it more sensitive and prone to infection.
So, it’s totally normal to place maintaining your vaginal health higher on your to-do list.
And we’ve got the expert deets on what you need to look out for to keep your vaginal health on point.
Let’s get down to business.
In this article: 📝
- Vaginal changes during pregnancy
- How do you know if your pH balance is off?
- How can I restore my pH during pregnancy?
Vaginal changes during pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, your body goes through all sorts of hormonal dances.
And these surges in estrogen and progesterone, alongside increased blood flow, often lead to a few noticeable vaginal changes.
Before you can stay on top of your vaginal health during pregnancy, it helps to get a handle on what’s normal.
1. Increased discharge
Your vagina is pretty good at taking care of itself. 👑
It produces fluid of varying types and consistencies (whether you’re pregnant or not) in an effort to keep its unique habitat in tip-top shape.
But it’s during pregnancy that it gets really serious about this job.
And that includes helping to prevent infections from entering the vagina and traveling into the womb.
So, if you notice a discharge that’s thin and milky and doesn’t have a noticeable odor, it’s likely that all is well.
Vaginal discharge can also increase towards the end of your pregnancy—this is simply your body’s way of getting ready to meet your little one.
But if the discharge has an unusual color or smell, it may be a sign that you need to pay attention to.
There are various reasons you may be bleeding in the first trimester.
Implantation bleeding and increased blood flow are some options here.
If you’re worried, check in with your doctor.
Later on in your pregnancy, bleeding can be more concerning and may mean preterm labor or placental abruption (where the placenta separates from the wall of your uterus).
With all of the lovely hormones surging through your body, your vaginal area is susceptible to an increase in blood flow.
This can make the area feel slightly more swollen, but a swollen vagina during pregnancy isn’t a bad thing!
All that extra blood flow increases your sensitivity, making it a great time to orgasm.
If swelling is accompanied by any redness or pain, that may be a sign of infection.
4. Varicose veins
You may notice that your labia has also had some redecorating done and opted for a blue-ish hue.
Not to worry, this is totally normal as your body becomes vulnerable to varicose veins.
Various veins are higher during pregnancy than at any other time because of the increase in blood volume and a decrease in blood flow from the lower body. This leads to blood pooling within the veins, causing a blue hue.
It is estimated that 4% of pregnant people have this, and it rarely happens during your first pregnancy.
5. pH Imbalance
And another thing hormonal changes do? Impact the pH balance of your vagina.
This means that your vagina’s scent (and taste) may change.
In general, research has shown vaginal excretions are more metallic and salty when pregnant.
And interestingly, this taste usually disappears with orgasms!
A healthy vagina has a pH of somewhere between 3.8 and 4.5.
On the pH scale, 7 is neutral—so yes, vaginas are more on the acidic side of things.
Too much or too little acid can make you more prone to yeast and bacterial infections.
Luckily, the pH balance in your vagina isn’t something you have to measure on the daily.
Your body will give you clues if something is wrong.
How do you know if your pH balance is off?
The basic signs are odor and itch.
If you smell something fishy, it’s worth chatting to your doctor as it may be a sign of an infection that needs to be treated.
Here are the more common causes of pH imbalance:
PH-wise, a yeast infection may mean things are more acidic than they should be.
Yeast infections are really common during pregnancy because hormonal changes can disrupt the pH balance of the vagina.
If you’ve noticed a cottage-cheesy discharge, this could be a yeast infection.
They’re totally treatable with over-the-counter meds—just tell your healthcare practitioner that you’re pregnant so they can give you a treatment that won’t cause any complications.
You can also check out our guide to safe home remedies for vaginal itching.
If your pH balance is higher than it should be (as in less acidic, more alkaline), you may be prone to bacterial infections.
Basically, that pH balance provides stellar protection against harmful bacteria, so when things are off-center, your defenses are down.
The most common symptom is a strong, fishy smell.
Bacterial vaginosis is common—up to a million pregnant Americans get it a year.
It requires treatment as it’s linked to premature birth and low birth weights.
How can I restore my pH during pregnancy?
So, the expert consensus is in: vaginal changes during pregnancy are normal. 📣
Here are three easy steps to balance your vaginal pH and get your vaginal health on track:
- Use a probiotic for vaginal health: It’s all about maintaining a healthy microbiome (the community of microorganisms in your body) that makes your vagina unwelcoming to infections. Probiotics appear safe to use if you’re pregnant, although researchers agree that larger, high-quality studies are needed to confirm this. Research has found Lactobacillus acidophilus to be the most efficient strain for vaginal health. (Now to work out how to say that when you see your healthcare provider.)
- Use a condom when you have sex: Particularly if you’re with a new partner, that added layer of protection can help stave off all sorts of infections. STIs such as trichomoniasis are linked to pregnancy complications like premature birth.
- Stay away from the douche: Yeah, not a good idea. Douches can disrupt the pH in your vagina, leaving you more open to invaders. If you still want a little extra TLC, though, check out our 6 tips for cleaning your vagina.
We wish you and your vagina a happy pregnancy. 🤰💕