What is cervical mucus?
Some amount of vaginal discharge is there throughout the month. However, it changes during the early stages of your pregnancy. This special type of discharge is called leukorrhea. This is a thin and milky white substance. Although the term is widely used in the case of pregnancy, leucorrhea can also be found in non-pregnant women.
The amount of cervical fluid during pregnancy increases and turns into the mucus plug over time. This mucus plug protects your baby from infections and breaks down during the delivery.
Vaginal discharge, especially around the time of missed period, is considered a sign of pregnancy. Changes in vaginal discharge at this time are explained 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, opt for a proper pregnancy test to confirm conception. Relying solely on cervical discharge is not accurate.
How early can you detect pregnancy?
Based on research, it’s safe to assume that a majority of newly pregnant women have a sufficient amount of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) by seven to ten days after ovulation. During 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 in case you ovulated a little later than you think. This usually happens when your hCG production is on the lower end of normal, or when implantation hasn’t occurred yet. So, if you choose to test as early as seven days after ovulation and do not get a positive result, you should test again in a couple of days, just to make sure.
Most common early signs of pregnancy
The most common early symptoms and signs of pregnancy may include the following:
- Missed period. If you are in your childbearing years and one week or more has elapsed without the start of your expected menstrual cycle, you may be pregnant.
- Swollen or tender breasts. Hormonal changes may make your breasts sore and sensitive early in pregnancy. The discomfort is likely to decrease after a couple of weeks as the body adjusts to various hormonal changes.
- Increased urination. You may urinate more often than usual. From the early weeks of pregnancy, the expanding uterus presses your bladder causing you to pee more often.
- Nausea with or without vomiting. Note that morning sickness, which may strike at any time, usually begins around the 6th week of pregnancy. That being said, many women can feel nausea a little earlier and some do not experience it at all.
- Fatigue. Fatigue tends to rank high among 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 need any medical treatment. In fact, the symptom is usually confused with getting an early period. Once a sperm fertilizes the egg, they form what is referred to as an embryo. The embryo travels to the uterus and implants itself into the uterine lining to cause some bleeding. But not all women experience implantation bleeding.
Some of the symptoms include:
- a brownish or pinking discharge
- mild stomach cramps
- mood swings
Implantation bleeding does not cause any trouble in the development of the baby. However, heavy bleeding is a cause of concern. If you experience chills, fever or severe cramping, get in touch with your doctor right away.
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Vaginal discharge changes throughout pregnancy
It is normal for pregnant women to note a milky white, thin discharge with a mild smell. This discharge is called leukorrhea, and there’s nothing you should worry about.
If you note a strong smelling, yellowish or green discharge which is also 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 pregnant women get. The infection is also popularly termed as a yeast infection. STD could also lead to an abnormal discharge and cause vaginal discomfort.
Vaginal discharge tips during pregnancy
- 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 making self-diagnosis and never begin treatment unless your doctor conducts a vaginal exam.
However, you can use panty liners to feel more comfortable during pregnancy.
Some women notice a lot of discharge during early pregnancy. However, others might have little to no discharge. That’s completely normal. We all have different bodies and it’s not necessarily required for every pregnant woman to produce discharge. In fact, every pregnancy is different and the amount of mucus your cervix produces depends on a whole range of factors.
Typically, vaginal discharge fluctuates to reflect the estrogen levels based on where a woman currently is in her menstrual cycle. Since the cycle changes during pregnancy, the amount can change, too. Hence, the only way to confirm your pregnancy is to take a test.
When to see a doctor?
Make an appointment to see your doctor, if you observe any abnormal vaginal discharge. Symptoms to check for include:
- Feeling fatigued or sick
- A greenish or yellow discharge
- Lower abdominal pain
- Any blisters or rash in the vaginal area
Any time you experience heavy or abnormal vaginal discharge during pregnancy, make a point to see your doctor. This is particularly important if the discharge is accompanied by a strong or foul smell.