Having early pregnancy discharge is something many women don’t expect.
Your cervical mucus changes throughout your menstrual cycle and even during pregnancy.
Early pregnancy discharge
The medical name for early pregnancy discharge is leukorrhea.
Often women look for increased cervical fluid as a way of knowing it’s the best time for conception.
Other women might check for discharge as a sign of early pregnancy.
Is white discharge a sign of early pregnancy?
Your body produces white discharge at many stages during your reproductive cycle.
But leukorrhea can happen in women who aren’t pregnant.
Leukorrhea changes according to the different phases of your menstrual cycle.
It also varies during the different stages of pregnancy.
It is influenced by varying levels of the hormone estrogen.
This hormone fluctuates, depending on the phase of your menstrual cycle. Estrogen levels rise in the 14 (or so) days between your period and ovulation.
At ovulation, estrogen peaks and then drops.
Estrogen increases blood flow to the pelvic area of the body. This leads to an increase in mucus production and discharge.
During pregnancy, estrogen has an important role to play in your baby’s development.
Part of that role is to maintain the lining of the uterus, which provides a nest for your baby to grow in.
Discharge in early pregnancy
During the first trimester of pregnancy, your cervix produces more mucus.
Over time it will develop into the mucus plug that blocks the opening of your uterus, the cervix.
The mucus plug begins to form when the fertilised egg implants.
The glands in your cervix secrete mucus to form the plug.
It won’t reach its full size until you’re about 12 weeks pregnant.
The mucus plug has a very important role. It prevents bacteria entering the uterus; this could cause an infection.
Infections can result in preterm labour, or harm your baby.
The mucus plug is different from the discharge you might notice during pregnancy.
It’s thicker, for one thing, and has a jelly-like consistency.
What does early pregnancy discharge look like?
If you’re hoping to have conceived this month, you might be on the look out for early pregnancy signs.
One of the more reliable signs you’ve conceived is an increase in cervical mucus.
Once the fertilised egg has implanted into the uterus it begins to secrete a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
Basically, hCG signals to your body that you are pregnant, and your hormones then kick in to sustain and protect the pregnancy.
As your body steps up production of estrogen, it increases blood flow to your pelvis. This stimulates the production of mucus from your mucous membranes.
And basically your vagina is one large mucous membrane.
Early pregnancy discharge is usually a thin and milky white substance.
Sometimes there is a pale rust or pink colour during early pregnancy. This can be a sign of implantation bleeding.
It’s usually very light, more like spotting than actual bleeding.
This occurs after the fertilised egg has burrowed into the uterus lining.
Not all women will have implantation bleeding but it’s often mistaken as the beginning of a period.
Want to know more?
White discharge in early pregnancy
Normal vaginal discharge during pregnancy is usually thin, white, milky, and mild smelling.
If your early pregnancy discharge changes and you notice the following symptoms, see your doctor quickly:
- Strong fishy smell or a foul odour
- A yellowish or green colour
- Itching and redness around the vulva or vaginal opening
- Consistency becomes thick and chunky, like cottage cheese
- Vaginal discomfort, pain when urinating
Left untreated, vaginal infections or sexually transmitted diseases can have serious effects on your developing baby.
How early can leukorrhea start?
You might experience leukorrhea as early as one or two weeks after conception – before you even realise you are pregnant.
Your hormones are changing right from conception, and will ramp up as the weeks progress. At first you may not notice these changes, but your body is definitely working hard to create a human being. Early pregnancy discharge is a result of those hormones working hard!
Early pregnancy discharge treatment
Some women are a little concerned about the amount of early pregnancy discharge present.
Your body is getting used to a ‘new normal’ in terms of hormonal changes.
Sometimes it feels like your body is over-reacting to pregnancy hormones.
You might feel a bit uncomfortable with the amount of mucus your body is producing.
As long as the discharge is normal, there is nothing to worry about.
Leukorrhea is normal and will feature, in varying amounts, during your pregnancy.
You can use panty liners to prevent a soggy feeling in your underwear.
Pads and panty liners are safe for you to use for early pregnancy discharge. Some women choose to use organic materials or cotton, as long-term use of synthetic fibres can irritate the skin.
Never use a tampon to absorb discharge when you’re pregnant; this can increase the chance of vaginal infection.
Clean the area daily with a mild, fragrance-free soap and water. Avoid using wipes and vaginal washes, which have fragrances that can irritate your skin.
Under no circumstances should you use a douche to clean the vagina.