Vaginal Infections during pregnancy: What are they and what can I do about them?

Vaginal infections during pregnancy

Your body transforms in many ways and an increase in vaginal discharge during pregnancy just happens to be one of those changes. If the discharge is clear or white and odour-free, it’s most likely caused by pregnancy hormones, and it’s a sign that the vagina is healthy. But sometimes excessive vaginal discharge during pregnancy signals an infection.

Here are the 2 most common vaginal infections, their causes and what you can do about them

Bacterial Vaginosis during pregnancy or BV

Bacterial Vaginosis is a mild bacterial infection of the vagina. Normally, there are a lot of “good” bacteria and some “bad” bacteria that can be found in the vagina. The ‘good’ bacteria help control the growth of the ‘bad’ bacteria. In bacterial vaginosis, this balance is disrupted causing not enough good bacteria and too many bad bacteria. An overgrowth of bacteria that naturally always lives in the vagina, which, in pregnancy, can be influenced by oscillating hormones.

Symptoms:

  • Thin grayish-white discharge
  • Pain during urination
  • Itching around the vagina

Treatment:

A course of antibiotics generally does the trick.

Doctors will usually prescribe you an antibiotic for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis. They could be pills or capsules or in the form of a cream that you can apply in your vagina. If you are pregnant, you will need to take pills.

Yeast Infection during pregnancy

Yeast infection is a common type of vaginal infection, which is especially common in pregnant women. It’s not unusual to have yeast in your vagina and in your intestinal tract. It only becomes a problem when it grows fast enough to overwhelm other organisms.

High estrogen levels during pregnancy could lead to the production of more glycogen in your vagina, which makes it conducive for yeast to grow there. S

The itching and burning sensation is a yeast infection caused by the overgrowth of fungus Candida that inhabits the vagina.

Symptoms:

  • Pain and itching in the vagina; the area can sometimes feel raw, too
  • Redness and swelling of the vagina and labia
  • Thick, curdled whitish-yellow discharge
  • Pain or discomfort during sex
  • Burning while urinating

Treatment:

If you are found to have a yeast infection, your provider will prescribe an antifungal vaginal cream or a suppository that’s safe to use during pregnancy. It may take a few days of treatment before you start to feel some relief. In the meantime, you could try soothing the itch with an ice pack and by soaking for 10 minutes in a cool bath.For yeast infections, creams and suppositories containing clotrimazole are more effective than those containing nystatin.

How to prevent vaginal infections during pregnancy

  • Wear cotton undergarments that allow your genital area to “breathe” (i.e., opt for full-coverage panties over that itty-bitty thong)
  • Sleep without underwear if required, or in just pajamas to allow the area to breathe
  • Opt for bucket baths or showers instead of bubble baths.
  • Use gentle, sensitive soaps with no added fragrances on your genitals.
  • Use toilet paper to wipe down instead of the shower heads which leave you with a wet panty that can breed infections.
  • Practice good vaginal hygiene, especially after going to the bathroom (i.e., always wipe from front to back)
  • Don’t sit around in a wet bathing underwear or swimsuit after swimming.
  • Make sure your genital area is completely dry before putting on your panties and clothes
  • Minimise sugar in your daily diet (yeast loves sugar).

Visit your doctor if things get too itchy, smelly or painful so that she can diagnose you right and treat you appropriately.

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