Pregnancy brings a lot of changes to the body that affect vaginal health, including strong vaginal odors. All vaginas, including healthy ones, have a smell. Healthy vagina tends to have some usual smell that may change during the month, such as earthy, metallic (during the menstrual period), or tangy. But, when the vaginal odor is strong and unpleasant, it can be a cause for concern. 

In this blog, we will discuss the changes in vaginal odors during pregnancy and other vaginal changes to watch out for during pregnancy. 

Increased Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal discharge changes throughout the menstrual cycle and can affect vaginal odor. Healthy vaginal discharge can look white, light yellow, or transparent with varying consistency during ovulation. During pregnancy, a pregnant person may notice heavier and sticker discharge with a salty or metallic smell. The hormonal changes and increased vaginal discharge can lead to unfamiliar and unpleasant vaginal odors. These changes in hormone levels can disrupt the vaginal pH balance, creating an environment that could encourage the growth of bacteria or yeast, which may lead to vaginitis. 


Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that causes unusual vaginal discharge, painful urination, irritation, and itching. The condition usually occurs due to an imbalance in vaginal bacteria, vaginal infections, or reduced estrogen levels after menopause. Different types of vaginitis include yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis.

Yeast Infection

During pregnancy, changes in hormonal levels can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina, causing a yeast infection. The most common symptoms of yeast infections are 

  • increased vaginal itchiness
  • clumpy vaginal discharge that resembles cottage cheese
  • yeasty smell
  • redness and swelling of the vulva
  • burning sensation during sex and urination
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    Bacterial Vaginosis

    Hormonal changes during pregnancy can alter the pH balance of the vagina and cause bacterial vaginosis (BV). Symptoms of BV often include thin, grayish-white, or milky discharge with a fishy odor. Vaginal odor may be more intense after sex, during sex, or menstrual period. 


    Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that has similar vaginitis-like symptoms, including painful urination, vaginal itching or irritation. Similar to bacterial vaginosis, it also causes a strong fishy smell, but the vaginal discharge is a frothy greenish-yellow or grayish color. 

    To be certain of what type of vaginitis you have, you must consult with your gynecologist for accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. Lack of or inappropriate treatment can cause health issues that may put you and your unborn child at risk. 

    Vaginal Itching 

    Pregnancy causes hormonal fluctuations that make pregnant bodies to experience overgrowth of vaginal bacteria. It is normal to experience more itchiness during pregnancy, but it can also indicate an infection. Because when vaginal bacteria are not in balance, yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis are likely to occur. These vaginal infections can cause changes to vaginal odor, discharge, and comfort. If you notice your vagina is extremely itchy and have other symptoms, contact your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. 

    Blue or Purple Vagina 

    Believe it or not, pregnancy can make your vagina turn blue or purple. Pregnant people may notice a blue or purple hue in their vagina, labia, or cervix due to increased blood flow. The color change is a potential indication of early pregnancy signs and is called Chadwick's sign. 

    Vaginal Flatulence or Queefing

    Vaginal flatulence occurs when air becomes trapped inside the vagina and is released, producing a sound similar to farts. Queefing is harmless and is not a health issue. The frequency of queefing may increase, likely due to the pressure put on the pelvic floor muscles as the abdomen grows throughout the pregnancy. Queefing may also occur due to changes in sexual positions and physical activity.

    Vaginal Bleeding or Spotting

    Some people experience a temporary end in their period during pregnancy, but spotting can occur during the first trimester. Spotting in the first trimester may not indicate any issue with the pregnancy. At this stage, spotting may be early embryonic implantation in the uterine lining and placenta formation. However, spotting or bleeding during the second or third trimester is not normal and can indicate serious health issues, such as 

    • miscarriage
    • infection
    • uterine rupture
    • incompetent cervix (premature cervical opening)
    • placenta abruption (placenta detaches partially or fully from the uterine lining)
    • preterm labor

     Always consult your medical professional when you experience spotting during your pregnancy, even if the spotting stops on its own.

    Vaginal Swelling 

    Pregnancy can cause increases in the vaginal blood volume of an expectant individual that swells up the vagina. The increase in blood flow helps to support the growth of the unborn child and can also lead to better and more intense orgasms. But, if the vaginal swelling stems from an infection, it can cause discomfort, burning, or itching. Make sure to contact your doctor if you experience vaginal swelling and any discomfort.

    Vaginal & Vulvar Varicose Veins

    Varicose veins do not affect only the leg during pregnancy - they can appear in the vaginal and vulvar areas. When pregnant, vulvar varicose veins form because of increased blood volume, decreased blood flow, and hormone fluctuations. Vaginal varicose veins can be itchy, painful and cause discomfort in the vaginal and vulvar regions. To soothe the associated pain, use these tips: 

    • take warm baths
    • lay on your side
    • use cold compress
    • wear compression garments
    • do not sit or stand for too long
    • elevate your legs & hips
    • drink more water

    This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.