How & Why Discharge Changes When You're Breastfeeding
An expert explains it all.
Think back to when you were 15. The word “discharge” was probably up there with “moist” as one of the most cringe-worthy things anyone could say. Then you grew up, starting trying to get pregnant, and suddenly “discharge” became a part of your everyday vocabulary. You check your discharge between your periods, you notice an increase in vaginal discharge during pregnancy, and, after your baby was born you may have even called your doctor and without flinching asked, does vaginal discharge look different when you’re breastfeeding?
Are there any changes in the vagina when a person is breastfeeding?
You got through an entire 40 weeks (give or take) of pregnancy, and — if you’re like most people — spent the entire time imagining how lovely it would be to have your body to yourself again. The things you’d eat, or drink, or how you might feel when you can just be yourself. And then you have a baby, and if you’re breastfeeding, you realize that your body is still part of a dyad between mother and baby. And yes, breastfeeding has systemic implications, even affecting the vagina. The vaginal tissue is directly responsive to estrogen, explains Dr. Kiarra King, an OB-GYN. “Estrogen levels are lower during lactation,” King explains. “This can lead, temporarily, to vaginal tissue being thinner and less pliable as well as reduced blood flow to the vagina.” Because of this, breastfeeding people may experience less discharge than usual, or even “dryness, irritation or painful intercourse, to name a few,” King adds.
What should a breastfeeding person expect in terms of vaginal discharge?
The main thing that King notes is actually not so much a change in the color, texture or smell of discharge, but rather the presense of it at all. “Some may notice that they have less vaginal discharge than they did during and pre-pregnancy,” King explains. “This is quite normal and will resolve after breastfeeding is completed.”
It is also worth noting that any time you have discolored, increased, or vaginal discharge that has an odor, make sure to contact your healthcare professional. It could be totally normal, but it may actually be a sign of an infection that needs to be treated.
Dr. Kiarra King, OB-GYN and OLLY Ambassador
This article was originally published on