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VERIFIED CONTENTAuthor: Jacek Tomaszewski, MD, PhD, obstetrician gynecologist, 2nd Department and Clinic of Gynecology, Medical University of Lublin

Vaginal discharge during pregnancy is not unusual. However, if they have an unpleasant odor and are accompanied by itching and burning, they can be dangerous to the fetus. Such vaginal discharge can be a symptom of a vaginal infection in pregnancy. How are they treated?

Pregnancy vaginal discharge(vaginal discharge) is more abundant than before, and is not of concern in itself. They are nota symptom of a vaginal infectionwhen they are watery, milky white (or even yellowish when dry), and odorless. It is a physiological symptom typical of pregnancy and is associated with hormonal changes.

It is not a pathological phenomenon and does not threaten the course of pregnancy. But when the vaginal discharge is greenish or yellow, with a cheesy texture and a foul odor, and if you experience itching and burning, you may have had a bacterial or fungal vaginal infection.

Vaginal discharge can be dangerous

If you suspect an infection, do not delay your visit to the doctor. Treatment is safe even in the first trimester, while the effects of an untreated, long-term infection can be very serious. Complications of bacterial vaginosis (bacterial vaginosis) in a pregnant woman can lead to:

  • miscarriages
  • premature rupture of the fetal bladder
  • premature birth
  • having a baby with a low birth weight
  • postpartum endometritis and uterine inflammation
  • prolonged healing, and even suture de-separation after incision of the perineum.
  • recurrent urinary tract infections
  • inflammation and abscesses of the pelvic organs

Therefore, it is not worth risking - it is better to contact a doctor who will order the necessary tests and determine the type of infection. Treatment is not complicated. For bacterial vaginosis, either oral or topical medications that are safe for the fetus are used, and yeast infections ( Candida albicans ) are treated with vaginal globules or creams.

Recurrent vaginal discharge and vaginal infections in pregnancy

It may seem that since treatment is easy, there is nothing to worry about. But the problem is that such infections often come back - after 3months after the end of the treatment, the risk of bacterial vaginosis recurrence reaches 30%, and after 9 months - even 80%! In addition, about 15 percent. women have an asymptomatic form of this disease - especially dangerous in pregnant women.

If you do not notice the symptoms, you do not even know that you have an infection, so you will not start treatment, and you already know the dangerous consequences of such omission. How to defend yourself against an invisible enemy? To understand the causes of infections and to prevent them, it's important to know what's going on in the vagina.

Don't do that

Do not irrigate!

  • On the Internet you can find various "home" methods of dealing with an infection. This is bullshit! Don't believe that irrigation (vaginal irrigation) with a solution of vinegar, citric acid, kefir, onion juice or garlic will help you.
  • Do not irrigate without consulting your doctor! Irrigation destroys the vaginal microflora and it takes 72 hours to rebuild it; bad bacteria and fungi multiply faster.

Vaginal infections in pregnancy: causes

In this quiet, humid and warm place, there are almost ideal conditions for the existence of microorganisms. And there are quite a few of them: about 100 species of bacteria live in the vagina of a he althy adult woman. The most numerous are lactobacilli ( Lactobacillus ), which produce lactic acid as a result of the fermentation of glycogen present in the cells of the vaginal epithelium. This acid is responsible for maintaining an acidic environment (pH from 3.8 to 4.5), which does not allow pathogenic bacteria to multiply too much.

Lactobacillusare responsible for the proper microflora and vaginal reaction. In addition to them, there are also numerous aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and yeasts in the vagina. Even the presence of bacteria with such menacing names as streptococcus or golden staph does not indicate a disease state. They are present in the genital tract of many he althy women and do not threaten them as long as the ecosystem is in balance.

However, it is not difficult to disturb it - it can be caused, for example, by sexual intercourse, menstruation, illness, or even such trivial factors as inappropriate underwear (e.g. made of windproof fabrics). The big change is, of course, pregnancy, because under the influence of pregnancy hormones, the vagina changes from acid to alkaline. And the alkaline pH (above 4.5) makes it easy to multiply pathogenic bacteria, which leads to dysbacteriosis and the appearance of bothersome symptoms. In the case of vaginal and vulva colonization with yeasts, the pH value is within the normal range, but also here the cause of infection is often hormonal changes related to pregnancy.

Vaginal discharge during pregnancy: bacterial migration

Intimate infectionsare often treated as embarrassing diseases. It is believed that they are caused by poor hygiene, sexual relations with various partners, use of public toilets. Meanwhile, these situations are conducive to getting sick, but as the main source of infection they only concern trichomoniasis, because it is a sexually transmitted disease.

However, the source of bacterial and fungal infections of the vagina and bladder are pathogens and fungi from the own digestive tract! They are transferred from the anus to the vaginal area during normal hygiene procedures (the distance between the anus and the vaginal opening is only 4 cm).

So we carry them ourselves: washing, rubbing, wiping these areas with a towel. Anyway, the distance is so close that bacteria and yeasts can cross it alone. And when they reach the vagina and meet the right conditions, they reproduce there unhindered. Even high hygiene does not always protect against infection.

How to prevent vaginal discharge and infection in pregnancy?

During pregnancy, when a bacterial infection (often asymptomatic) can be dangerous, make efforts to minimize the risk of infection. So remember to: wipe front to back, use glycerin soap or slightly acidic liquids for shampooing, do not use a washcloth or sponge, do not wear tight-fitting clothes made of artificial fabrics.

However, taking probiotics, which restore the proper bacterial flora of the vagina, is essential in the prevention of infections. Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when given in the right amount, have a beneficial effect on he alth.

It is often mistakenly believed that a probiotic is any yogurt containing bacteria of the genusLactobacillus acidophilus . Meanwhile, such an inscription does not even say what kind of bacteria it is, and there are hundreds of bacterial strainsLactobacillus acidophilus ! A probiotic with a specific effect is a carefully selected, precisely defined strain of bacteria - their name should be three-pronged and include: genus, species, strain.

Vaginal discharge during pregnancy: beneficial lactic acid

Canadian microbiologist Dr. Gregor Reid has proven scientifically that two strains of lactobacilli help in rebuilding a normal vaginal ecosystem:Lactobacillus rhamnosusGR-1 andLactobacillus reuteriRC-14. It is worth looking for a preparation that contains these strains.

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