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Pregnancy is a process that involves a lot of changes in the body, both internally and externally. Vaginal discharge is not unknown to women as they may experience some form of it in their lives. However, a white, jelly-like discharge during pregnancy may pique your curiosity as this form of discharge is unlike the others you may have had. It also may be thicker and have a weird smell. Here is more information on what it is and whether you need to take any special measures for it.
Is a Jelly-Like Discharge During Pregnancy a Matter of Concern?
In most cases, discharge from the vagina that resembles a jelly-like substance and is clear of any colour is absolutely fine and is considered a normal body process. However, there are certain scenarios when the discharge might indicate signs of infection or other aspects to be examined. These are:
- The vaginal region is slightly swollen, which may or may not be accompanied by pain
- Urination irritates, itches, or causes a burning sensation
- The texture of the discharge is not free-flowing or thick. It resembles a curd or cheese-like texture and is uneven
- The colour is not white or off-white but has a grey tinge or even a greenish shade
What Causes a Jelly-Like Discharge During Pregnancy?
Many women believe that the thick, clear, jelly-like discharge symptom of early pregnancy is a confirmed fact. However, it might not always be the case. The reasons for such a discharge to occur are multiple.
- Two primary conditions can be the cause of such a discharge: elevation of estrogen levels, and a boost in the blood flow to the pelvic region.
- Both these conditions result in the stimulation of the mucous gland located in the cervix. It then begins to work more intensely than before, which results in a higher generation of mucous.
- This extraneous mucus doesn’t have a place in the body, so it starts finding its way out of the vagina. While it flows out, it gathers with it any remaining mucus, old and dead cells of the vagina and cervix, and other natural bacteria.
- All of these combined together give the mucus a jelly-like texture.
Jelly-Like Discharge in the Third Trimester/End of Pregnancy
For many women, this clear, jelly-like discharge is usually observed when they are in the third trimester of their pregnancy or even approaching the final couple of weeks of completing the term.
In this scenario, the body starts to discharge the mucous plug in the vagina. This plug functions as a barrier that protects the uterus and the baby from germs and infections, right from the initial stages of the pregnancy. Keeping the uterus sealed is essential for the safe development of the foetus.
The mucous plug may be discharged as the cervix softens during pregnancy – softening or ‘ripening’ of the cervix means that it starts to become thinner in preparation for delivery. As a result of this process, the mucus plug may struggle to stay intact. Some pregnant women may lose their mucous plug during cervical examinations or even because of sexual intercourse.
As you begin approaching the due date, the body starts preparing for childbirth. Around the completion of 36 weeks or so, the mucus plug is discharged and it appears out of the vagina in the form of a similar discharge. It may come out gradually like jelly or completely all at once like a big blob, with a little blood on it. This mucous plug mixed with blood is known as ‘show’. There’s no reason to worry about it.
When Does Vaginal Discharge Indicate an Infection?
The discharge that occurs needs to be colourless and odourless. If it has a foul smell accompanied by greyish or greenish colours, these are strong signs of an infection present in the vagina, which could be:
1. Yeast Infection
There are various fungi present in the vagina which can, at times, affect the microbes present in the entire region. Due to the multiple hormonal changes that the body undergoes during pregnancy, the various fluids present in the vagina turn concentrated with sugar. Combined with a higher susceptibility to infection, the sugary environment provides a great latching ground for yeast, which results in a yeast-based infection taking over your vagina.
2. Bacterial Infection
A vagina contains both good and bad bacteria. At times, the increase in bad bacteria may cause harm to you and your baby. Certain bacterial infections are known to trigger labour earlier than normal, leading to preterm birth. This leads to a host of other complications and disorders that a baby might have. A history of premature births might signify a presence of this infection and it is best to get examined if you have faced the same before.
3. Infection Due to STDs
In case you have been sexually active in the early stages of pregnancy, the chances of having contracted a sexually-transmitted disease are slightly higher than any other infection. Getting an STD test done for yourself and your partner should be the first point of action if you’ve had unprotected sex. STDs can not only lead to early labour and premature deliveries but can also infect the uterus after birth. Transferring the infections to the baby during your pregnancy can lead to the hindered development of the child. Babies being underweight, having issues with eyesight and other sensory perceptions, and acute brain damage are only a few conditions that a baby might face due to STDs.
Tips to Prevent Chances of Vaginal Infections During Pregnancy
- If you are sexually active during pregnancy, it is best that neither you nor your partner interacts with multiple sexual partners. This can help reduce the risks of contracting STDs. Make sure you get yourself and your regular partners tested for STDs before proceeding, and always use protection.
- Many women wash the vagina repeatedly with water to keep it clean. Vaginas are self-cleaning, and incessant douching can actually result in infection since it rids it of any healthy bacteria that ought to be present.
- Whenever you clean the vagina, make sure it is dried completely. Moist areas are breeding grounds for microbes, which can cause infections. If your vagina or the surrounding area stays wet, you are quite literally inviting infections to make it their home.
- Opt for comfortable clothing that isn’t tight in the crotch area. Even your underwear should be a little loose and preferably made out of cotton. This helps in facilitating air circulation as well as absorbing any sweat, keeping the area dry.
- Cleaning after using the loo is something everybody learns in their childhood, but many of us end up making a basic mistake. The hygienic way to clean your area is to wipe it from front-to-back and not the other way around. Wiping from back-to-front shifts all the germs from the anal area to your vagina and infects it. Wiping the right way keeps the vagina free from such problems.
- Women are expected to have nice-smelling vaginas, but that is unnecessary – they have a natural odour which should not be changed by use of fragrances and deodorants. The chemicals in them can react adversely with the vaginal area, leading to irritation and infections.
- Bubble baths should also be avoided in this regard since fragrant soaps come in direct contact with the vagina, irritating it or making it susceptible to infections.
During pregnancy, even the smallest change in your body could indicate a large change happening internally. Having a clear, jelly-like discharge during early pregnancy isn’t always a problem. But observing it well and looking for anything out of the ordinary can help you avoid chances getting an infection.
Resources and References: Healthline