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Pregnancy

Leukorrhea: Is This White Vaginal Discharge an Early Sign of Pregnancy? 

Leukorrhoea

Leukorrhea is the medical term for normal vaginal discharge, and is usually thin, white, and harmless. It is normal in early pregnancy, but there can be instances where this fluid is a signal that warrants further medical attention. To help you know the difference between when it’s cause for concern and when it’s normal, this post will cover:

  • What is leukorrhea?
  • When is it normal to have this white vaginal discharge?
  • Is leukorrhea one of the early pregnancy signs?
  • When should I see a doctor for leukorrhea?

What is leukorrhea?

Leukorrhea is the normal milky white or clear vaginal discharge. It is usually thin and could have a mild odor. It typically does not come with itching or strong foul odor.

Vaginal flora help make this white fluid, which helps maintain an acidic pH in the vagina and prevents other harmful pathogens from thriving. So, this discharge is a good thing! Don’t use vaginal wipes or douches because these can disturb your vaginal discharge from doing its thing.

When do you get leukorrhea?

Because white vaginal discharge can sometimes seem like an infection, like a yeast infection, it’s important to know when it’s normal to experience leukorrhea and when it’s a problem.

Leukorrhea is normal when you’re experiencing major changes in hormones like estrogen, so you might notice more of this discharge around the time of ovulation or early in pregnancy. And if you’re interested in figuring out when you ovulate, cycle tracking can help.)

You may notice leukorrhea as wetness in your underwear, so if you want to use panty liners for managing it, that’s definitely fine. But, don’t use tampons if you see this discharge because this can introduce new germs into the vagina.

This white discharge is not normal if it comes with itching or odor. In these cases, it’s possible that you have an infection. The most common vaginal infection is a yeast infection, but sometimes abnormal discharge can be a sign of bacterial infection or a sexually transmitted disease. Talk to your healthcare provider so you can get the right diagnosis and the treatment.

Is leukorrhea one of the early pregnancy signs?

While leukorrhea can happen during the menstrual cycle due to changes in the hormone estradiol, it’s most commonly associated with early pregnancy discharge. It can be tempting to examine your cervical mucus to look for changes as one of the first signs of pregnancy. But changes in vaginal discharge are not a reliable indicator of pregnancy.

The increase in pregnancy-related leukorrhea can start as early as a few weeks after conception and gets more noticeable as the pregnancy progresses. However, there are other potential causes for leukorrhea, so don’t expect to gain any meaningful insight from your discharge during the two-week wait.

When to see a doctor about leukorrhea?

Leaking any vaginal fluid, whether it’s brown discharge, bright red spotting, or white discharge, can understandably cause some worry. But, leukorrhea is usually harmless and common to see during your cycle and when you’re pregnant. However, if you ever observe any of these additional symptoms, it’s important to see your health care provider:

  • Itching or burning
  • Change in odor
  • Yellow or green tint
  • More discharge than usual
  • Pain in the pelvis or legs

If you’re trying to get pregnant and notice this discharge, it is especially important talk to your healthcare provider about receiving treatment soon because infections are causes of miscarriage.

If you’re already pregnant, leukorrhea is a part of normal pregnancy discharge, if you notice any major changes in consistency or amount, let your healthcare provider know. If the discharge starts to have a foul odor or has the consistency of yeast infection, definitely see your healthcare provider so that you can get the appropriate treatment as soon as possible.


Aarthi Gobinath, PhD

Aarthi Gobinath earned her PhD in neuroscience from the University of British Columbia. Her research covers the ways that stress affects the male and female brain differently.

She tackled the issue of sex bias in research by looking at why standard treatments for depression don't always work in the case of postpartum depression. Her work has been covered by Vice and Massive Science.

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