Vaginal Infections During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a process that produces hormonal changes in women and a great vulnerability to external pathogens. Such is the case with vaginal infections
Vaginal Infections During Pregnancy

Last update: 24 September, 2018

Vaginal infections during pregnancy are more common than you might think. The main reason is that the hormonal process of gestation alters the natural state of the vagina. As a result, it becomes more vulnerable to all types of infection.

The vagina contains microorganisms, which are to blame for these infections. In normal conditions, these microorganisms are under control thanks to women’s immune systems. However, during pregnancy, hormonal changes alter the conditions in the vagina.

If a vaginal infection appears, women should seek immediate attention from a specialist. While these infections aren’t usually invasive for developing babies, a lack of medical attention can cause complications in pregnancy. 

Untreated vaginal infections can produce contractions and can even cause women’s water to break, and premature birth.

Which vaginal infections are common during pregnancy?

The most common vaginal infections during pregnancy are vaginitis and vulvovaginitis. These pathologies are the result of the alteration of the vagina’s pH, mostly due to hormonal changes. Menopause can cause this alteration as well.

Other infections caused by fungi are also common as the result of sexual relations. The most common of these is candidiasis, produced by the fungus Candida. During pregnancy, women’s bodies are more prone to suffer this sort of infection.

Finally, there are infections caused by bacteria, as is the case with bacterial vaginosisThis type of infection is the most invasive if not treated in time and in the right way. If the infection spreads, it can produce contractions and premature birth.

“While these infections aren’t usually invasive for developing babies, a lack of medical attention can cause complications in pregnancy”

Why do vaginal infections occur?

In most cases, vaginal infections during pregnancy have to do with the hormonal processes that pregnancy involves.

The hormonal changes that women experience during pregnancy alter the pH in their vaginas and, therefore, their vaginal flora. This resulting environment favors the reproduction of microorganisms, causing infections.

Below are some suggestions you can follow to avoid vaginal infections:

  • Avoid excessive hygiene. By nature, the vagina is a moist environment whose discharge keeps infections at bay. Constant washing reduces this natural lubrication, allowing for pH imbalances.
Vaginal Infections During Pregnancy
  • Use undergarments made of natural fibers, preferably cotton. Cotton is one of the most breathable materials, unlike lycra and nylon. Tight-fitting underwear also places you at higher risk of infection.
  • Choose neutral soaps. Both for personal hygiene and for washing your clothes, neutral soaps are best. Normal soaps contain a great deal of chemicals and perfumes that can irritate your vagina.
  • Use a condom if you suspect infection. If there is a possible infection present, it’s best to use a condom. This way you’ll prevent spreading the infection to you partner, or vice versa.

What are the symptoms of vaginal infections?

In the case of a common infection, the symptoms can be observed in daily discharge or in the vulva’s appearance. For example, discharge becomes more abundant, viscous and bad smelling. It may have a yellowish, greenish, or greyish tone.

In some cases, the vulva becomes irritated with a sort of breakout or rash. The labias and the surrounding area become red and sensitive to touch. Women may also experience burning, itching and swelling in the area. Even underwear can be uncomfortable during infection because it rubs against the labias of the vagina .

Vaginal Infections During Pregnancy

What to do if you suspect you have a vaginal infection?

If you have any doubt, then you should consult with a medical professional. Under no circumstance should pregnant women ever self-medicate, nor should they apply any topical creams or home remedies without medical supervision.

If the infection is due to a fungus, then your partner will likely need to apply treatment as well. In these cases, it’s important to follow your doctor’s orders strictly to avoid complication or repeated infections.

Once you’ve solved the infection, you’ll need to put preventative measures into practice. Nutrition can be a factor that influences infection. For example, excessive carbohydrates can favor the reproduction of fungi. At the same time, dairy products such as yogurt help to combat against fungi.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.