7 Ways Your Vagina Changes During Pregnancy

From color shifts to varicose veins, carrying (and having) a baby really changes your body. Here are seven surprising things that may happen to your vagina during pregnancy.

pregnant woman holding stomach
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Pregnancy changes your body. That's a fact. From your growing stomach to ever-increasing shoe size, there are a lot of transformations that come with pregnancy. But did you know your vagina can change during pregnancy, too? It's true. A lot can happen "down below." Here are seven strange and unexpected ways pregnancy can affect your vagina.

1. Your Vagina May Turn Blue

Can your vagina change color during pregnancy? Unbelievably, the answer is yes. Your vagina may assume a blue or purple hue when you're expecting. It's called Chadwick's sign, and it can be one of the first indications that you're pregnant. "As early as six weeks into your pregnancy, your vagina, labia, and cervix may take on a blue or purple color, thanks to the increase in blood flow," says Brett Worly, M.D., an OB-GYN at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.

2. You Might Experience Spotting

Pregnancy means a temporary end to your period, but spotting in the first trimester is common—and it's usually no big deal. In fact, up to 25% of expectant parents have some bleeding or spotting during pregnancy, according to the March of Dimes. That said, "anytime there's bleeding, even if it stops, you should let your doctor know," says Mary L. Rosser, M.D., Ph.D., an OB-GYN and the Director of Integrated Women's Health at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, in New York City.

Spotting can sometimes be caused early on by the implantation of the embryo in the uterine lining and the formation of the placenta; the blood tends to be light pink to dark brown, not red. In other cases, however, spotting during pregnancy can indicate something else, such as a yeast infection or a miscarriage. "If spotting is associated with pain—including cramps—call your health care provider right away," says Dr. Rosser.

3. Your Vagina Could Get Varicose Veins

Your legs aren't the only body part vulnerable to bulging, painful, purple varicose veins. The area aroundyour pregnant vagina can experience them too, thanks to a combination of increased blood flow, an enlarged uterus (which compresses veins in the pelvis), and pregnancy hormones.

About 10% of pregnant people wind up with vulvar varicose veins, generally during month five of their second pregnancy (or, rarely, in their first). The risk increases with the number of pregnancies, according to a report in the journal Phlebolymphology. "They look just like regular varicose veins, but [most often occur] on the labia and sometimes on the upper inner thigh," says Katherine Bolt, M.D., an OB-GYN at Partners in OB/GYN Care at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, in Houston.

The good news is that the issue usually resolves within six weeks of delivery. But you don't have to wait that long for relief if your varicose veins are bothersome. "Try warm baths, lying on your left side, and elevating your feet when possible," says Dr. Bolt. Exercise helps, too; avoid sitting or standing still for long periods.

4. Your Vagina May Be Swollen

That extra blood flowing through your vaginal area can make you feel full and heavy, says Dr. Bolt. Your vagina usually won't appear swollen, but it might feel that way—though that's not always a bad thing. "For some, the extra blood supply increases sensation," says Dr. Rosser. In other words, a swollen vaginal area during pregnancy may improve sensitivity and orgasm.

5. Vaginal Flatulence Can Occur

Vaginal flatulence, also known as queefing or vaginal flatus, occurs when a pocket of air gets trapped inside the vagina. When it is released, it emits a fart-like sound. "It's not a sign of anything bad," says Dr. Bolt. It's unclear why pregnancy causes this to happen more often, but it's likely the combination of a growing belly, different intercourse positions, exercise, and overworked pelvic floor muscles.

6. Your Vagina Could Be Itchy

Pregnancy hormones can cause an overgrowth of naturally occurring vaginal bacteria or fungus, resulting in bacterial vaginosis (BV) or yeast infections. Both are common during pregnancy and offer up either grayish-white (BV) or yellowish-white (yeast infection) discharge. They also itch like crazy. Luckily, they're highly treatable by a doctor. Don't go with home remedies or OTC meds here.

If your vagina is expelling an odor-free discharge that's clear or white, relax: It's totally normal. "The cervix and vagina undergo hormonal changes in pregnancy that cause an increase of cervical mucus and vaginal discharge," says Dr. Bolt. This mucusy goo changes throughout pregnancy from thick and sticky in the beginning to thin and watery toward the end.

7. Your Vagina's Scent (and Taste!) May Change

"The pH of the vagina changes during pregnancy and could cause subtle changes in vaginal odor, making it a bit more acidic," says Dr. Bolt. "Some pregnant people are more sensitive to the smell, but unless there's vaginal itching or burning, there's nothing to worry about."

There's also a change in taste that's related to pH changes. According to the Journal of Perinatal Education, during pregnancy, vaginal excretions tend to taste more metallic or salty. Interestingly enough, researchers note that the flavor usually disappears once you have an orgasm.

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