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Home > Learn > Pregnancy > >Pink Discharge During Pregnancy: Normal?

Pink Discharge During Pregnancy: Normal?

May 23, 24 10 min

By Dr. Kenosha Gleaton, OBGYN

Not having to deal with a monthly period is one of the many perks of pregnancy. But if you’re experiencing pink discharge, you may wonder whether it’s normal and what it could possibly mean for you and your baby.

Pink discharge during pregnancy: normal or not? Let’s take a look at why it happens, and what you can do about it.

What Is Pink Discharge?

Pink discharge is a mixture of light bleeding and vaginal fluid.[1,2] In most cases, the presence of pink discharge indicates that your period is about to start.[1] However, it can also mean that something else is going on, such as irritation or implantation bleeding.[1]

Is Pink Discharge Normal During Pregnancy?

The short answer is yes: pink discharge is extremely normal during pregnancy.[2] It is more common during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (the first trimester), but it can happen at any time up until you give birth.[2]

If you frequently experience pink discharge in between periods, try our Cycle Support Bundle, which includes vitamin D3, inositol, and an ovulation test kit. All these products can help regulate your menstrual cycle and identify when you are most fertile if you are trying to conceive.

Causes of Pink Discharge

Pink discharge isn’t usually a cause for concern, even when you are pregnant. However, it may give you peace of mind to consult with your healthcare provider about it to make sure this symptom isn’t a sign of a more serious condition.

Normal Causes

The following causes of pink discharge are completely normal to experience during pregnancy.

Implantation Bleeding

Implantation bleeding occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself into the wall of your uterus.[3] It is an early sign of pregnancy and usually occurs six to 12 days after your egg becomes fertilized.[3] Implantation bleeding typically lasts one to two days.[3]

Post-Sex Discharge

Sexual intercourse may irritate the vaginal wall and cause pink discharge regardless of whether or not you are pregnant.[1]

Pelvic Exams and Procedures

Any pelvic exam or procedure that involves the insertion of a medical tool or instrument into the vagina—such as a speculum—may trigger the release of pink discharge.[2]

Mucus Plug and Bloody Show

The mucus plug is a large mass of mucus that blocks the opening of your cervix during pregnancy.[4] Its job is to prevent any bacteria or infections from entering the uterus and harming your baby.[4]

A “bloody show” refers to the blood that is released from the vagina when your cervix dilates to prepare for labor and childbirth.[5] This blood usually mixes with your mucus plug to produce pink discharge.[5] The timing of the release of the mucus plug and the bloody show is different for every woman or person assigned female at birth (AFAB); it can happen days, hours, or minutes before labor begins.[5]

Potential Concerning Causes

There are instances in which pink discharge during pregnancy may indicate an issue that requires a medical exam or treatment. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your pink discharge may be related to one of the following causes.

Infections

Certain infections—such as bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections—may occur during pregnancy due to the way hormones can upset the healthy pH balance of bacteria in the vagina.[6,7] Vaginal discharge is a common symptom of these types of infections.[6,7]

Miscarriage

Pink discharge may be an early sign of miscarriage.[8] Other symptoms of miscarriage include pain or cramping in the pelvis or lower back, rapid heart rate, and bleeding or tissue passing from the vagina.[8]

Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants and grows outside of the uterus.[9] Pink discharge is an early sign of an ectopic pregnancy, along with pelvic pain, shoulder pain, and a strong urge to have a bowel movement.[9]

Molar Pregnancy

During a molar pregnancy, a tumor or mass of tissue grows in the uterus, with or without a fetus.[10] Discharge, bleeding, nausea, and pelvic pain are common symptoms of a molar pregnancy.[10]

Preterm Labor

Preterm labor is labor that occurs any time after week 20 and before week 37 of pregnancy.[11] Its symptoms include menstrual-like cramping, low back pain, and watery vaginal discharge.[11]

Placenta-Related Issues

Issues that occur with the placenta—such as placenta previa or placental abruption—may cause vaginal discharge and bleeding.[12]

Incompetent Cervix

An incompetent cervix is a cervix that opens or weakens too early in pregnancy.[13] Symptoms may include vaginal discharge, stomach pain, or pelvic pressure.[13]

When to See a Doctor

Contact your healthcare provider if you have pink discharge at any point during your second or third trimesters.[2] Though pink discharge during the first trimester may be common and normal, report it to your provider anyway so it can be closely monitored.[2]

Normal Observations vs. Concerning Symptoms

Pink discharge closely resembles spotting, which is a minimal amount of bleeding that is noticeable only when you wipe.[14] It may also appear as a few drops of blood in your underwear, but is not enough to require a maxi pad or pantyliner.[14]

If you have pink discharge, take note of when it begins, when it ends, and whether the flow of blood becomes heavy enough to warrant concern.[14] If you aren’t sure whether your discharge is normal or a sign of something more serious, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider.

Preventing and Managing Pink Discharge

Though it’s not always possible to prevent pink discharge, you can take steps to reduce your risk of getting it.

Preventive Measures

Having regular prenatal visits with your healthcare provider is the best way to prevent pink discharge, or reduce your risk. Your provider can perform routine exams and talk to you about your symptoms and lifestyle to determine whether you meet risk factors for any pregnancy issues.

Also, practice safe sex when you have intercourse with your partner.[15] Use only positions that make you feel comfortable.[15] Use a condom if your partner has a sexually transmitted infection, or if you are having sex with a new partner during your pregnancy.[15]

Managing Normal Pink Discharge

You can experience a healthy pregnancy with pink discharge as long as you take the right steps to manage it properly. Practical ways to manage pink discharge during pregnancy include [16,17]:

  • Monitoring it closely for any changes in appearance or flow
  • Bathing yourself every day
  • Taking time off work when necessary and staying off your feet
  • Avoiding douche products and tampons
  • Abstaining from vaginal intercourse

Natalist Is Here to Support You at Every Pregnancy Stage

At Natalist, we are devoted to helping you experience an enjoyable path to parenthood, and offer a wide range of products that support a healthy pregnancy. Check out our collection of pregnancy products that promote optimal health in both you and your baby, and that can help you prepare for the big day!

 


Dr. Kenosha Gleaton is board-certified in gynecology and obstetrics and is the Medical Advisor of Natalist. She received her MD from MUSC and completed her residency at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC.

Dr. Gleaton is passionate about women, youth, and mentoring. She is a Scrubs Camp instructor, a program to increase student entry in healthcare, and serves as a Compassion International adoptive parent. She is also a member of the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, and the American Association of Professional Women.  


References:

  1. Decoding Vaginal Discharge: What’s Normal and What’s Not? Cleveland Clinic. July 28, 2022. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/vaginal-discharge-mean
  2. Spotting During Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-concerns/spotting-during-pregnancy/
  3. Implantation Bleeding. Cleveland Clinic. December 16, 2022. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/24536-implantation-bleeding
  4. Mucus Plug. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed February 8, 2024. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/21606-mucus-plug
  5. Bloody Show. Cleveland Clinic. July 6, 2021. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/21605-bloody-show
  6. Bacterial Vaginosis During Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-complications/bacterial-vaginosis-during-pregnancy/
  7. Yeast infection during pregnancy: Over-the-counter treatment OK? Mayo Clinic. January 14, 2023. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vaginitis/expert-answers/yeast-infection-during-pregnancy/faq-20058355
  8. Miscarriage - Symptoms & Causes. Mayo Clinic. September 8, 2023. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pregnancy-loss-miscarriage/symptoms-causes/syc-20354298
  9. Ectopic pregnancy - Symptoms & Causes. Mayo Clinic. March 12, 2022. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ectopic-pregnancy/symptoms-causes/syc-20372088
  10. Molar pregnancy - Symptoms & Causes. Mayo Clinic. November 12, 2022. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/molar-pregnancy/symptoms-causes/syc-20375175
  11. Suman V, Luther EE. Preterm Labor. National Institutes of Health. August 8, 2023. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK536939/
  12. Bleeding in Pregnancy/Placenta Previa/Placental Abruption. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Accessed February 13, 2024. https://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/bleeding-pregnancyplacenta-previaplacental-abruption
  13. Incompetent Cervix. Cleveland Clinic. October 13, 2022. Accessed February 12, 2024. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17912-incompetent-cervix
  14. Vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy. National Institutes of Health. November 21, 2022. Accessed February 12, 2024. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000614.htm
  15. Sex during pregnancy: What's OK, what's not. Mayo Clinic. July 22, 2022. Accessed February 12, 2024. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/sex-during-pregnancy/art-20045318
  16. ‌Bleeding and spotting from the vagina during pregnancy. March of Dimes. April 2020. Accessed February 12, 2024. https://www.marchofdimes.org/find-support/topics/pregnancy/bleeding-and-spotting-vagina-during-pregnancy
  17. Bleeding During Pregnancy. Cleveland Clinic. November 17, 2021. Accessed February 12, 2024. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/22044-bleeding-during-pregnancy

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