Cervical mucus (vaginal discharge) is a clear, gel-like fluid that is produced by the cervix. It is present throughout your cycle. It starts to change during the early stages of pregnancy. The vaginal discharge can become milky white. This type of discharge is called leukorrhea. Although the term is widely used during pregnancy, leukorrhea can also be present if you aren’t pregnant. Sometimes this term can be used for abnormal discharge.
The amount of cervical fluid during pregnancy increases and turns into something called the mucus plug over time. This mucus plug protects the fetus from infections and breaks down during delivery.
Changes in vaginal discharge, especially around the time of a missed period, may be a sign of pregnancy. These changes in vaginal discharge can be caused by increased estrogen. This boost of estrogen also stimulates the blood flow to your pelvic area, which ultimately leads to increased discharge.
If your period is several days late, a pregnancy test can confirm if you’re pregnant. Relying solely on cervical discharge is not an accurate way to determine if you’re pregnant.
Based on research, most people who are pregnant have enough of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) for it to be detected by certain pregnancy tests up to four days before your expected period. At this time, you can try to confirm pregnancy with a very sensitive home pregnancy test.
However, testing this early may result in a false negative, particularly if ovulation occurred a little later than you estimate. If you’re pregnant, a false negative can happen if your hCG production is on the lower end or when implantation hasn’t occurred yet. If you take a pregnancy test as early as seven days after ovulation and don’t get a positive result, you should take a test again in a couple of days, just to make sure.
These are the most common early symptoms and signs of pregnancy:
- Missed period — If you haven’t begun menopause and one week or more has passed since you expected your period to start, you may be pregnant.
- Swollen or tender breasts — Hormonal changes can make your breasts sore and sensitive early in pregnancy. This discomfort should decrease after a couple of weeks as your body adjusts to various hormonal changes.
- Increased urination — You may urinate more often than usual. Starting in the early weeks of pregnancy, the expanding uterus presses on your bladder, causing you to pee more often.
- Nausea with or without vomiting — Note that morning sickness, which can strike at any time, usually begins around the 6th week of pregnancy. That being said, many pregnant people can feel nausea a little earlier, and others do not experience it at all.
- Fatigue — Fatigue tends to rank high among the many early symptoms of pregnancy.
An early sign of pregnancy is implantation bleeding, which occurs when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine lining. However, implantation bleeding does not require any medical treatment. In fact, this symptom is often mistaken for an early period. Once a sperm fertilizes the egg, it forms what is called a zygote, which starts dividing into an embryo. The embryo travels to the uterus and implants itself into the uterine lining, which can cause some bleeding. Not all people experience implantation bleeding.
Some of the signs of implantation include:
- Brownish or pink discharge
- Mild stomach cramps
Implantation bleeding is a normal part of pregnancy and doesn’t have any negative effect on the development of the fetus. However, heavy bleeding may be a cause for concern. If you experience chills, fever, or severe cramping, get in touch with your health care provider right away.
Leukorrhea is a type of early pregnancy discharge. This sign of pregnancy is often milky white, thin, and generally harmless. However, sometimes this vaginal discharge may also be an early indication of infection, so it’s important to note any changes or symptoms.
If you note a strong smelling, yellowish or green discharge accompanied by itching or redness, it could signal a vaginal infection. These infections can take place during any stage of pregnancy. Candidiasis is one of the most common infections during pregnancy. Candidiasis is more commonly known as a yeast infection. Sexually transmitted infections can also lead to abnormal discharge and cause vaginal discomfort.
- Never use tampons when you’re pregnant as this could expose the vagina to germs.
- Don’t douche as it disrupts the normal balance of good bacteria in the vagina.
- Avoid diagnosing yourself and don’t begin treatment unless advised by a health care provider.
Some people notice a lot of discharge during early pregnancy. However, others might have little to no pregnancy discharge. Both are completely normal. We all have different bodies, and not everyone will produce pregnancy discharge. In fact, every pregnancy is different, and the amount of mucus your cervix produces depends on a whole range of factors. It’s safe to use panty liners to control pregnancy discharge and feel more comfortable.
Typically, vaginal discharge fluctuates along with changing estrogen levels over the course of your menstrual cycle. Since estrogen levels change during pregnancy, the amount of discharge can change, too. During pregnancy, increased pelvic blood flow also leads to an increased amount of discharge. This means there’s no direct link between cervical fluid and pregnancy, and changes in discharge aren’t a reliable way to detect pregnancy. The only way to confirm your pregnancy is to take a test.
Make an appointment to see your health care provider if you notice any abnormal vaginal discharge. Symptoms to watch for include:
- Feeling fatigued or sick
- A greenish or yellow discharge
- Lower abdominal pain
- Any blisters or rashes in the vaginal area
Any time you experience heavy or abnormal vaginal discharge, make an appointment to see your health care provider. This is particularly important if the discharge is accompanied by a strong or foul smell.