This week I’ve received a bunch of email questions about a subject nobody really wants to talk about – discharge. One reader wonders if hers might indicate she’s pregnant, another who wonders if it’s weird that hers makes her itch and yet another who wants to know if it’s possible her pregnancy test turned positive because her discharge is different. Let’s figure out what’s going on down there, shall we?
First off, it’s normal to have vaginal discharge. It keeps vaginal tissues healthy, lubricated and clean. It’s also normal for discharge to change periodically in response to hormones, your menstrual cycle, after sexual activity or use of some vaginal products like douches or lubricants. During the days before and after your period, you might notice it’s a different color than it is the rest of the month. During mid-cycle, it might have a different consistency. Once you’re pregnant, it might change once again – thicker or thinner, a different color or smell. Some women never notice any difference at all and that’s entirely normal too. There’s a surprising amount of variation between what’s normal for one woman and what’s normal for another. The important thing is recognizing what’s normal and abnormal for you.
Question #1 – One woman wrote to find out if an extra thick discharge was a sign of pregnancy. She hadn’t missed a period yet and didn’t have any other pregnancy symptoms – just the discharge. I’m going to guess this reader is either really eager to be or terribly afraid to be pregnant and is watching her body very carefully for hints and clues.
Here’s the thing – discharge by itself isn’t a clear pregnancy indicator, especially when it’s so early that you haven’t even missed a period yet. Instead, a change in discharge quantity, consistency or odor might indicate that recent sexual activity has altered the Ph level of your vagina or introduced new bacteria. The increased vaginal discharge might be your body’s attempt at balancing things out and cleaning things up. If it doesn’t itch, burn, or smell, there’s probably nothing wrong. If it continues though, if it’s making you uncomfortable, you suspect your partner may have an infection or you’re worried, you might want to check in with a healthcare provider and make sure you don’t have an infection. If you don’t get your period pretty soon, take a pregnancy test. That’s a way more accurate way of finding out if you’re pregnant than keeping track of your discharge.
Question #2: Is it weird that your discharge is making you itch?
YES! Normal discharge doesn’t itch. Itch, especially when your discharge is different than normal is a sign of a fungal or bacterial infection. It’s classic for yeast infection, which is crazy common this time of year (AKA not weather, high humidity, bathing-suit season). If you’ve never had a yeast infection before, go see your midwife or doctor for a quick test. This is easy to treat with anti-fungal medication. If it’s not yeast, but a bacterial infection, you might need a course of antibiotics to clear things up. If it’s another type of vaginal infection, especially if it’s a sexually transmitted disease, you’re going to need your midwife or doctor’s help to make things right down there again. Bottom line: If your discharge itches, burns, stings, blisters, smells or makes you uncomfortable – that’s not normal.
Question #3. This one comes from a woman who is really, really hoping her pregnancy test is wrong. She peed on the stick and it came back positive. “Is there any possibility that something in my discharge made it turn positive? I mean, what if I have an infection or something – could that make it turn positive when really it’s negative?”
Uh, sorry, honey – probably not. Pregnancy tests react to hormones in your urine. While sometimes they do give a false positive, it’s not likely to be because of your discharge. I’d recommend you either take a second test or, better yet, go see your healthcare provider and get some advice.
Check back next week and we’ll answer another one. If you have questions you’d like me to answer here at The Labor Nurse – Since You Asked, email me at Jeanne@JeanneFaulkner.com
DISCLAIMER: Any information provided in this blog “The Labor Nurse – Since You Asked” is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be medical advice, nor does it replace care given by your health care provider. Please consult your health care provider when seeking medical advice.