White, creamy vaginal discharge is very common after ovulation. In most cases this is physiological (normal) but sometimes it happens due to a Candida infection. Although it is not a recognized clinical sign of pregnancy, vaginal secretions increase as the pregnancy continues towards term. Vaginal secretions are at their highest when you are close to delivery.
First of all, let's take a look at normal vaginal discharge of a non-pregnant female in the reproductive age group.
The vagina and cervix contain a lot of mucus-secreting glands. These glands function under strict control of female reproductive hormones.
In a normal menstrual cycle, there is a significant dryness in the vagina following menstruation.
When eggs (follicles) develop in the ovaries, estrogen levels rise. Under the influence of estrogen, glands in the vagina and cervix secrete mucus in ever increasing amounts. The day before ovulation, estrogen levels and mucus secretion reach their maximum.
During ovulation, mucus is stretchy, clear and sticky. Many women compare it to raw egg white. If you take a pinch of mature cervical mucus between your thumb and index finger and stretch it by separating your fingers a strand of mucus will stretch between your thumb and index finger unbroken. This is called spinnbarkeit (fibrosity).
Under the microscope, there will be a "ferning" pattern of cervical mucus during ovulation. Mucus becomes viscous and gelatinous after ovulation. The corpus luteum (the structure left behind by the released ovum) of the ovary produces progesterone after ovulation. Under the influence of progesterone mucus becomes clear and whitish. This discharge disappears with next menstrual bleeding.
Infective vaginal discharge is common during pregnancy. Estrogen, progesterone, cortisol and thyroxin levels rise during pregnancy. These hormones mobilize stored glucose, fat and proteins to provide for the developing fetus. Therefore, they increase blood sugar levels. There is a generalized reduction of immune response during pregnancy. High blood sugar further lowers body's defenses against infections.
Estrogen and progesterone promote mucus secretion from glands in the vagina and cervix. A mucus plug forms in the cervix as a protective mechanism. Vaginal secretions increase progressively towards term. Vaginal secretions are at their highest when you are close to delivery.
Mucus provides a rich medium for bacterial, fungal and viral growth. The combination of these factors results in pregnancy-related cervicitis and vaginitis. Candidiasis features thick creamy and foul-smelling vaginal discharge associated with itching of the vulva. This is common in diabetic mothers. Anti-fungal local applications, tablets and pessaries are effective against candidiasis.
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