Bleeding and Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy

What's Normal Now?


Readers are thinking about sex and stuff this week. No surprise there. It's cold outside and no one can afford any outside entertainment so...whatcha gonna do? I got two emails from ladies who are still early in their pregnancies and had a little bleeding and brownish, gunky discharge after sex. Neither one had cramps and both felt fine otherwise but, obviously, bleeding's a worrisome thing.

Faron wrote that she's eleven weeks along. She called the advice nurse at her doctor's office (good call, Faron—that's what they're there for) and was told bleeding after intercourse is normal and she may have "bumped" something. Heh-heh—y'think? The "something" she might have bumped is probably her cervix (the opening to the uterus). It's mighty sensitive during pregnancy. All those pregnancy hormones and the extra blood supply to the uterus make it susceptible to a little bleeding when it's "bumped." She had some brownish discharge the next day and correctly deduced that would probably be leftover old blood from the previous day's "bumping."

Though the advice RN was right and a little bit of spotting after sex is almost always no big deal, I'm really glad Faron called. Any kind of bleeding in the first trimester can indicate trouble and it's a good idea to talk it out with your provider. It's also perfectly reasonable to ask for a quick office appointment so you can get checked out, listen to your baby's heartbeat and be reassured that everything is indeed OK. If there's no further bleeding and your provider isn't worried about your baby, placenta, a possible vaginal or cervical infection or any other complication, it's probably just fine to continue having sex. Just go a little gentle on the "bumping."

Berneen is only four weeks along but she too had a little bit of bleeding after having sex. No cramping and the bleeding was gone the next day. She wants to know if this is normal. As with Faron, bleeding after sex is common but not necessarily normal. At only four weeks along though, Berneen's pregnancy is still fragile and new. It's a little harder to provide reassurance. Most of the time we can't even locate a heart beat that early. Its very likely Berneen, that your bleeding was implantation bleeding or from an extra-sensitive cervix and not miscarriage but this is a case of "wait and see." If there's no further spotting and no cramping, I'd be willing to bet that you and your pregnancy are fine. Give your doctor a call anyway and tell them what happened. I know that's not the "don't worry about it" advice you were hoping for, but the difference between four weeks and eleven is pretty significant. Nothing's tougher than waiting to see if a miscarriage is going to happen or not. I'm going to be thinking about you and hope you'll get in to see your doctor soon. I'm hoping he/she will be able to locate a tiny little heart beat on an ultrasound and put your mind and heart at ease. Hang in there, honey. Chances are excellent that you're fine.

Since we're talking about discharge, I got an email this week from Shawna wondering if it's OK to treat a yeast infection during pregnancy. She's 18 weeks along and worried. Oh honey, don't I know it. There's so much to worry about when we're pregnant and already uncomfortable. Add a nasty discharge and an itch and that's enough to drive any girl crazy. She's wondering if it's OK to use over-the-counter Monistat during pregnancy.

My answer is, "yes, Monistat's probably safe but my question is how do you know for sure it's a yeast infection, Shawna?" Lots of different kinds of vaginal infections have very similar symptoms like itching, burning, odor and abnormal discharge. I'd advise making a call to your doctor/midwife and telling them you're crazy-uncomfortable and need an appointment right away. They'll do a vaginal culture to make sure it is actually yeast and not something else like bacterial vaginosis, which can be a serious, but easily treated infection during pregnancy. It requires an entirely different prescription than the one for yeast. It's far better to be safe than sorry with this one, Shawna. You might be right on target and have a yeast infection but if you don't, you don't want to spend a week with the wrong messy cream only to wind up treating the wrong thing.

Thanks for the emails, ladies. I love hearing from you and hope that you'll let me know how everything has worked out. I won't bother saying, "don't worry" because we all know better than that. Mamas worry. It's what we do. There's nothing wrong with that. It's how we love our babies before they're even born.

Got a question for Jeanne? E-mail it to and it may be answered in a future blog post.

This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.