When you're trying to conceive (TTC), you become a certified expert in your cervical mucus and discharge. Monitoring changes in your discharge can be a great way to figure out exactly when you're ovulating and, thus, when it's time to bring your A-game and try for a baby. After your fertile window ends and you're waiting to see if you've been successful, you're likely still monitoring your discharge — it becomes a habit, after all. What should your discharge look like? Is early pregnancy discharge like ovulation discharge? When you're trying to conceive, it's normal to have a ton of intimate questions. Luckily, the experts have answers for us.
When you're nearing ovulation, your vaginal discharge changes in both look and feel. Go to any online TTC forum and you'll see everyone talking about their "EWCM," which stands for "egg white cervical mucus." According to Parents, "Immediately prior to ovulation, most women usually detect increased vaginal secretions that are wet and slippery (similar to the consistency of raw egg white). Generally, your body produces the greatest amount of this type of vaginal discharge on the day of ovulation." After you've ovulated, the discharge will gradually become thicker in consistency and then decrease. Fun fact: this EWCM serves a purpose when you're TTC. The American Pregnancy Association stated that this type of cervical mucus helps nourish and protect the sperm as it travels to the newly-released egg. In other words, that EWCM helps you conceive.
During the two-week wait — the two weeks between trying for a baby and getting a positive pregnancy test — it's totally normal to "symptom spot." The anticipation is killer. Every slight twinge in your abdomen, ache in your chest, or change in your discharge can send you running to Google. According to a blog post on Ava Women, however, you shouldn't focus too much on your discharge during the two-week wait. "But changes in vaginal discharge are not a reliable indicator of pregnancy.... So don’t expect to gain any meaningful insight from your discharge during the two-week wait."
While your vaginal discharge might not be the first symptom that alerts you when you're pregnant, it does change during early pregnancy. The discharge a woman experiences in early pregnancy is called leukorrhea, which the American Pregnancy Association described as "thin, white, milky, and mild smelling." According to Ava Women, women often have this discharge when they're experiencing hormonal changes —and pregnancy is one big hormonal change.
So, is early pregnancy discharge similar to ovulation discharge? Not so much. Ovulation discharge is notably thin, stretchy, and clear, while early pregnancy discharge is thin and milky. While the two types of discharge may look and feel different, they have one thing in common — there is a lot more of it during both pregnancy and ovulation. According to VeryWell Family, "During pregnancy, leukorrhea production increases. This is due to increased estrogen and blood flow to the vaginal area. (These are the same reasons for the increase in cervical fluids when you're about to ovulate!)"
With both types of discharge, it's important to speak to a doctor if you're experiencing discomfort, or if you notice anything strange. Neither EWCM or leukorrhea should come with itching or burning or strong odors. Green or yellow tints could indicate a problem, like an infection. According to Ava Women certain infections can cause miscarriage, so it's crucial to speak to your doctor if you notice any of these things.
Your vaginal discharge can tell you a lot about your body — and it's completely normal for the color, consistency, and amount to change throughout your cycle and throughout pregnancy. Pay attention to what's going on down there, and don't ever be afraid to ask your doctor all your discharge-related questions.