7 Crazy Things That Happen to Your Vagina During Pregnancy
From color shifts to varicose veins, carrying a baby for nine months can do a number on your lady parts. Here's your no-holds-barred guide to how your vagina changes during pregnancy.
As a pregnant woman, you know that a baby most likely will exit through your vagina. But a whole lot more happens down below when you're expecting. Here are seven wacky, weird ways pregnancy can change your lady parts:
Your vagina will turn blue
Pink is usually your vagina's signature color, but when baby is on board the hue may change to a blue or purple color (it's called Chadwick's sign). In fact, the color shift may be one of the first clues 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 of blood flow," says Brett Worly, M.D., an ob-gyn at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.
There may be blood
Pregnancy means a temporary end to your period, but spotting in the first trimester is common--and it's usually no big thing. (In fact, up to 50 percent of all mamas-to-be 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 at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. "It's the most efficient and accurate way to figure out if it's something to be concerned about." Usually, a little blood is the result of implantation in the uterus and the formation of the placenta. In some cases, however, spotting can indicate something else, such as a yeast infection. "If spotting is associated with pain--including cramps--call your health-care provider right away," says Dr. Rosser.
You might get varicose veins down there
Surprise! Your legs aren't the only part of your body vulnerable to bulging, painful, purple varicose veins. Yup, your pregnant lady parts can experience 'em too, thanks to the combination of increased blood flow, an enlarged uterus (which compresses veins in the pelvis) and good ol' pregnancy hormones. About 10 percent of pregnant women wind up with vulvar varicose veins, generally during month five of a second pregnancy and the risk increases with the number of pregnancies, according to the journal Phlebolymphology. "They look just like regular varicose veins, but on the labia and sometimes on the upper inner thigh," says Katie Bolt, M.D., an ob-gyn at Partners in Ob/GYN Care at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women. (Dr. Bolt notes that they can occur in first pregnancies, too.) 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 the veins are bothersome. "Try warm baths, lying on your left side, and elevating feet when possible," says Dr. Bolt. "Also, exercise and avoid long periods of sitting or standing."
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Your crotch will feel swollen
That extra blood flowing through your vaginal area can make your lady parts feel full and heavy, says Dr. Bolt. Your vagina (usually) won't actually appear grossly swollen, but it might feel that way -- and that's not always such a bad thing. "For some women, the extra blood supply increases sensation," says Dr. Rosser. That's a super-polite way of saying Hello, orgasms!
Your vagina may fart
There's not a whole lot of medical literature on the delicate topic of vaginal farting. But here's what it is: A trapped pocket of air in the vagina gets pushed out and makes an I-just-passed-gas kind of noise. "It's not a sign of anything bad," says Dr. Bolt. And though it's unclear why pregnancy can cause this to happen more frequently, it's likely a combo of your growing belly, different intercourse positions, exercise, and over-worked pelvic floor muscles.
Your business can get itchy
Pregnancy hormones can cause an overgrowth of naturally occurring vaginal bacteria or fungus resulting in bacterial vaginosis (BV) or yeast infections, respectively. Both are common during pregnancy and offer up either grayish-white (BV) or yellowish-white (yeast infection) discharge, and both itch like crazy. Luckily, they're highly treatable--by a doctor. Don't go the home or over-the-counter route here.
If your vagina is expelling odor-free, clear or white egg-like discharge, relax: It's totally normal. "The cervix and vagina undergo hormonal changes in pregnancy that cause an increase of cervical mucous 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.
Your down-there aroma (and taste!) shift
"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 women are simply more sensitive to the smell, but unless there's vaginal itching or burning, there's nothing to worry about." And then there's the change in taste, also related to pH changes. According to the Journal of Perinatal Education, pregnant women tend to taste more metallic or salty. Interestingly enough, researchers also note that the flavor usually disappears once you have an orgasm.
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