Yeast & Bacterial Infections
Q. I've had a sore vagina in the early stages of pregnancy (week nine). What could this mean?
A. Soreness could be a result of a yeast or bacterial infection, both of which, unfortunately, are quite common during pregnancy. If you have any itching, burning or foul smell, this is most likely the case. Over-the-counter anti-bacterial and anti-yeast products are not recommended for pregnant women. You should consult your doctor for treatment, although there are really not a lot of options.
I remember resorting to the air-dry method for my yeast infections during pregnancy, as moisture tends to perpetuate the condition. My husband sometimes came home to find me naked from the waist down and spread-eagle on the living room couch. This was not an invitation to sex, I assure you!
If you do not have an infection, you may just be sore from intercourse and/or the swelling of the pregnant vagina. During pregnancy, sex organs and mucous membranes swell and become more sensitive. See the "cheeseburger crotch" question for more details.
Q. I am five months pregnant and my vaginal lips are sore and itchy. I no longer produce enough lubrication, and penetration is very painful during sex. My husband also experienced some itchiness on his foreskin after having dry sex for two days. What might be the cause of this?
A. You probably have a yeast or bacterial infection. When you experience any itching, burning and/or foul-smelling discharge, this is most likely the case. You should abstain from intercourse until the infection is cleared up. Otherwise you may experience painful sex and will transfer the infection to your husband.
Do not use over-the-counter anti-bacterial or anti-yeast treatments as they are not safe during pregnancy. You should consult your doctor about the best possible treatment.
Back to Top
Q. This is my first pregnancy and the opening of my vagina is swollen, purple and red, and I am having a lot of vaginal discharge. It doesn't smell, but it does hurt (burn/soreness) when touched. I have a friend who has genital herpes and we went swimming together a little while ago. Is my swelling normal or is it a sign that I caught genital herpes from my friend?
A. I highly doubt you have contracted genital herpes from your friend. Herpes is transmitted through mouth to mouth, mouth to genital or genital to genital contact. Swimming with your friend should not put you at risk. The swelling and discharge you mention are perfectly normal symptoms of pregnancy. The pain and burning could be from a yeast or bacterial infection, which can occur more often during pregnancy. You should contact your OB/GYN about treatment to get some relief.
Q. I am 37 weeks pregnant and I have a yeast infection. I already took the seven day vaginal cream three times and it won't go away. I am worried that I could go into labor and the yeast infection might affect the baby. Can a yeast infection be passed to the baby during delivery?
A. If you have a yeast infection when you go into labor, there's a small chance that your newborn will contract it during delivery. Yeast infections in newborns are called thrush. Thrush symptoms usually begin 7 to 10 days after birth and are recognizable by white patches appearing in the baby's mouth. Try not to worry. Thrush is not serious and is easily treated.
Back to Top
Q. I am currently 29 weeks and for the last month or so I have noticed some serious itching at the top of my vagina. About a month ago I noticed what felt like a skin tag on my inner vulvar lips. Now I am noticing more of these "tags" along the area with continued vaginal itching. I don't think it's a yeast infection. When I scratch I feel as though the skin is getting broken and rashed. I've had multiple pap smears to test for possible sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and I've never had a positive test for any STD. My husband has also been tested for all STDs and his tests came back negative. WHAT IS THIS?!
A. Although I'm no medical expert, I'd guess that you've either got genital warts (HPV) or a crop of skin tags accompanied by a bacterial infection. STDs such as HPV may be transmitted without initially showing any symptoms and may not even show up on a STD test. It may even be years before your immune system will trigger an outbreak, causing the warts to appear. These triggers can happen when your immune system is depressed from illness or during pregnancy. I think you should consult your OB/GYN about your concerns to determine just what is going on.
Q. Are pregnant women tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) early on in pregnancy? I am ready to deliver any day and have an itchy vaginal rash. I'm trying to rule out everything.
A. During an initial pregnancy exam most OB/GYNs and clinics will test for STDs because some, such as syphilis, can be harmful to a fetus during pregnancy. You were most likely tested in your first trimester. The rash you have could be a yeast or bacterial infection, which can be quite common during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. (See "Yeast & Bacterial Infections" for more information.)
Back to Top
Q. I am 11 weeks pregnant and taking 600mg a day of Prometrium. I have been experiencing a yellow and green vaginal discharge, and sometimes bloody mucous as well. I have no burning or itching and there is no particular odor either. Could this be due to the high level of progesterone I'm on, or is this a sign of infection?
-Stephanie, New York
A. Although I'm no medical expert, I don't think your discharge has anything to do with the use of Prometrium. Since you've had blood accompanying the discharge, you should report it to your OB/GYN and do ask about the yellow and green discharge while you are at it. It could be a low-grade infection and may need treatment.