Thursday, June 28, 2012

Leukorrhea during Pregnancy

Leukorrhea, more commonly known as vaginal discharge, is quite common during pregnancy. Leukorrhea is a milky discharge with a mild odor or no odor at all. It is the vagina’s way of flushing out bacteria to protect the fetus. It is often seen before pregnancy, but shows up increasingly during pregnancy due to elevated levels of estrogen and blood flow. Leukorrhea is primarily composed of old cells and natural bacteria flora.

Later in pregnancy, you might see a different kind of leukorrhea - it will resemble egg whites. As the cervix thins, it begins to expel the mucous plug that acts as a protective barrier for the baby. This mucous might come out in one mass and could have a tiny bit of blood in it. It will have a jelly-like consistency. If blood is present, it usually means labor is apt to happen in the next 24 hours. Leukorrhea can act as a barometer of fertility and health for a reproductive woman, particularly during pregnancy.

In any of the following cases, contact your health professional for treatment:
  • If there is spotting or bleeding.
  • If you see large amounts of fluid - it can often be hard to distinguish between normal vaginal discharge or amniotic fluid. If there is any question, you should contact your caregiver.
  • If you notice a sudden increase in fluid before you have reached 37 weeks, it could be a sign of preterm labor. Fluid, mucous, blood and blood-tinged secretions all could indicate preterm labor.
  • If the mucous has a pungent odor or is accompanied by itching, burning, or inflammation then it could mean you have a yeast infection (or candidiasis). Pregnancy increases the risk of yeast infections. Yeast infections are not a danger to the fetus but you should be treated right away. Giving birth with a yeast infection could give the infant thrush, an infection of the mouth that is easily treated. Anti-fungal medication is the generally prescribed remedy.
  • If the discharge begins to smell or changes colors it might mean you have another type of infection. Yellow, green or gray discharge indicates an infection and could be a sign of an STD. Some STD's can cause preterm labor and uterine infections. If they aren’t treated, they can lead to stillbirth, low birth weight, brain damage, blindness and deafness. Bacteria Vaginosis is a common infection that causes the discharge to become fishy-smelling and urination becomes irritating - the condition is easily treated with antibiotics. Untreated, however, it can lead to a premature or low birth weight baby.
  • If you have pain during urination or sex, you might have a urinary tract infection and will require treatment. Recurrent UTI’s can be prevented by drinking pure cranberry juice. 
To ward off many types of infections: avoid douching, bubble baths or using anything scented near the vagina. Wear cotton underwear and avoid tight-fitting clothes. Wipe from front to back and keep the area clean and dry.

Increased vaginal discharge is one of a handful of unpleasant symptoms that come with pregnancy. It's important to be aware of any changes that occur so you can head off any infections before they become serious. Always contact a medical professional if you suspect an infection has developed during your pregnancy, do not try to treat it yourself.

Vaginal discharge during pregnancy [BabyCenter]
Vaginal Discharge [UniversityofIllinois]
Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy [AmericanPregnancy]