What causes yellow discharge during pregnancy, and when should you seek medical advice? Here’s what you need to know about yellow vaginal discharge through the trimesters.
If you’re used to tracking your menstrual cycles and fertility signs, you’re probably very familiar with keeping an eye on your vaginal discharge.
From blood to “egg whites” to “milky white,” you’ve seen it all…
But what about yellow discharge during pregnancy? Hmmm – that’s a new one.
So let’s explore the common causes of yellow pregnancy discharge and what to do when you spot it.
In this article: 📝
- What is normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy?
- What is yellow discharge during pregnancy?
- What does yellow discharge during pregnancy mean?
- Is yellow discharge a sign of pregnancy?
- What does yellow discharge mean for different trimesters?
- How to treat yellow discharge during pregnancy?
- Should I be worried about yellow discharge?
What is normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy?
Right from the first trimester, you’ll probably experience clear or milky white vaginal discharge — also known as leukorrhea. This will have a thin consistency and will be either odorless or mild-smelling.
Leukorrhea is caused by the increase in your estrogen levels during pregnancy, and you’re likely to see more and more of it as you head toward your third trimester — that’s a classic pregnancy symptom, and nothing to worry about.
What is yellow discharge during pregnancy?
So, is yellow discharge normal during pregnancy?
Well… sometimes yes, sometimes no.
At times, vaginal discharge may appear to have a yellow tinge when it comes into contact with air ‒ kind of like oxidization.
But it can also be a sign of something else.
If you have yellowish discharge during pregnancy, particularly if it has an unusual odor (compared to your normal discharge), it’s worth paying a visit to your doctor, as it could be a sign of infection.
Is yellow-brown discharge while pregnant normal?
It might not be the most welcome sight, but generally brown discharge indicates blood in the vaginal discharge caused by irritation — you can thank the surge of hormones and increased sensitivity in the cervix that often comes with pregnancy.
Sex during pregnancy and pelvic exams can all aggravate your cervix causing that worrying brown discharge.
That being said, a darker yellow discharge during pregnancy can also be a sign of infection, so there’s no harm booking an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
Is greenish-yellow discharge during pregnancy normal?
Just as with brownish-yellow discharge, green-yellow discharge is also usually a sign of infection, so see your doctor as soon as you can.
What does yellow discharge during pregnancy mean?
If you see your vaginal discharge change from white to yellow during pregnancy, there might be a simple explanation, or it could suggest a problem that needs to be sorted out.
Dark yellow vaginal discharge could indicate a bacterial or yeast infection. A lighter, pale yellow discharge during pregnancy could be amniotic fluid.
Let’s take a closer look at these common causes of yellow pregnancy.
Leaking amniotic fluid
If you notice yellow vaginal discharge in the third trimester, it could mean you’re leaking amniotic fluid (the stuff that your baby has been happily swimming around in while growing inside you).
Amniotic fluid is very thin and watery in consistency, resulting in either odorless or slightly sweet-smelling discharge that can be light yellow in color.
Before 37 weeks, leaking amniotic fluid is called “preterm premature rupture of membrane,” and often needs to be treated by your doctor so that you don’t go into labor before your baby is ready.
In both instances, a call to your doctor is the best next step to take.
What color is amniotic fluid?
While some amniotic fluid is clear, it can also appear yellow or a sort of pale yellow color, too.
And amniotic fluid can also be green or brown, although this is only usually the case if baby has pooped in the womb ‒ yup, that can happen, too.
Vaginal bacterial infection
And because pregnancy is never simple, yellow discharge during pregnancy can also be the sign of an infection, especially if it’s accompanied by a strong smell, discomfort, or stinging.
Common infections include yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis which are caused by an imbalance of bacteria.
The good news is that both are relatively easy to treat with medication or antibiotics.
So give your healthcare provider a call as soon as you can and they’ll be able to help you figure things out.
The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you can knock that infection on its head and get back to enjoying being a mama-to-be!
What other infections cause yellow vaginal discharge?
Yellow discharge can be a symptom of STIs, like gonorrhea or chlamydia, but it might also could be an infection called trichomoniasis — a highly curable sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite.
If you have bright or dark yellow discharge, a noticeably unpleasant smell to your discharge, pain when peeing, stomach pain, or spotting while pregnant, it’s worth speaking with your doctor as soon as possible.
Leaking urine (incontinence)
If you experience a pale yellow discharge during pregnancy, there’s a possibility that what you’re seeing is actually a little bit of pee.
Leaking urine (aka incontinence) is a common-yet-slightly-annoying side effect of pregnancy.
It can be caused by changes to your hormones, pressure on your bladder from your growing baby, or a UTI (urinary tract infection).
Usually, the leaking will happen only every so often, in quite small amounts, and you might be able to detect that tell-tale ammonia-esque smell.
If you’re worried, wearing a panty liner can help you stay dry and comfortable.
Is yellow discharge a sign of pregnancy?
Does yellow discharge mean pregnancy?
If you’re TTC or you think there’s a chance you might be pregnant but you haven’t taken a pregnancy test yet, yellow vaginal discharge could well be an early sign of pregnancy.
But it also could be a sign of infection, regardless of whether you’re pregnant or not.
So if you have any of the following symptoms, speak with your doctor as soon as you can:
- Bright or dark yellow discharge
- Strong, unpleasant smell to discharge
- Stomach pains
- Spotting or light bleeding between periods
Can yellow discharge mean a miscarriage?
Not always ‒ particularly if you visit a doctor as soon as you can.
Because yellow discharge in early pregnancy can be a sign of infection, and infections can lead to pregnancy loss, you should visit a doctor ASAP if you notice yellow discharge, just in case.
What does yellow discharge mean for different trimesters?
Well, mostly, yellow vaginal discharge while pregnant tends to point to the same things through all stages, but it can get a little confusing in the third trimester.
Yellow discharge early in pregnancy: first trimester
Generally, pale yellow discharge during your first trimester is pretty normal.
It could be caused by a touch of older blood in your uterus or vaginal canal.
Yellow vaginal discharge may also be an early sign of pregnancy.
But there is a chance that it could be an early sign of an infection, so it’s worth talking to your doctor if you notice any yellow discharge, just in case.
Yellow discharge during pregnancy: second trimester
An infection can still strike during the second trimester, and it can still cause harm to you and baby, so if you see yellow discharge in the second trimester, visit your doctor.
Better to be safe, mama.
Yellow discharge during pregnancy: third trimester
Now, yellow discharge in the third trimester can be a slightly different story.
While there’s still a risk of infection, yellow discharge later in your pregnancy could also be a sign that baby’s ready to make their appearance.
So if you’re 36 weeks pregnant and see yellow discharge, make sure your hospital bag is packed, because baby might just be ready to say hello!
Yellow discharge before labor
If you see yellow discharge at 38 weeks pregnant or later in your third trimester, it might not actually be discharge.
It might be your waters breaking — particularly if it’s very watery or pale yellow discharge during pregnancy — or even a bit of pee (nothing to be embarrassed about, mama, it happens to the best of us!).
If it’s thicker discharge and pale yellow, it could be your mucus plug passing, which can be another sign of impending labor.
Even if your due date is further off, you could be leaking amniotic fluid prematurely.
In any case, you should contact your doctor immediately if you suspect your water has broken.
How to treat yellow discharge during pregnancy?
While we can’t guarantee that this will keep yellow discharge during pregnancy completely at bay, keeping your vaginal health in check can help prevent infection.
To help avoid infection and keep your vagina healthy during pregnancy, you can:
- Wipe from front to back after using the bathroom to avoid introducing fecal bacteria into the vagina.
- Choose underwear made from natural, breathable fabrics, such as cotton.
- Use a panty liner if vaginal discharge is heavy during pregnancy
- Wear loose-fitting clothing. Now’s not the time for skinny jeans or yoga pants, mama.
- Stick with gentle soap and water in the tub or shower
- As tempting as it may be if your discharge smells bad, avoid using products to mask the odor. Call your doctor instead.
Should I be worried about yellow discharge?
Generally, no, yellow discharge is often just one of those weird things that can happen during pregnancy.
But every now and then, it could be a sign of infection, which can be harmful to you and baby, so if you notice any yellow discharge during pregnancy, it’s always worth getting it checked out, just in case.
So that’s all there is to know about yellow discharge during pregnancy.
Still have questions? You’re always welcome to ask our moms-to-be or veteran mamas on Peanut what they think.
We’re having the conversation, and you’re not alone, mama.
You’ve got this.