Watery leaks in pregnancy: the causes, and how to distinguish them

In most cases, watery losses in pregnancy are due to hormonal changes that occur in that period.
They are often one of the first signs of conception.

Hydrorrhea gravidarum

In pregnancy, hydrorrhea gravidarum is quite common, a phenomenon that consists in the increase of physiological vaginal secretions. They are clear, fluid and transparent aqueous leaks.

Nothing pathological then; Nevertheless, when secretions become abundant, expectant mothers often tend to confuse them with the breaking of the waters and to become alarmed. Even more so when they occur long before the expected date of delivery.

However, as a rule, they should not worry. In fact, hydrorrhea gravidarum is a rather common event from the beginning of pregnancy. Initially, it can also be a sign of conception.

Pregnant women should instead be concerned if they also detect the existence of more or less consistent blood loss, losses that could be due to abnormalities inside the uterus.

Hydrorrhea gravidarum is not due to rupture of the amniotic sac. These watery, transparent and totally odorless losses, in most cases are in fact due to hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, which can often be accompanied by the anxious state of the pregnant woman.

It should also be said that regardless of this, especially after a few months from the beginning of pregnancy, women may be subject to slight incontinence due to the fetus pressing on their bladder and urethra.

Water leakage, in the first months and at the end of pregnancy

These watery losses are especially noticeable at the beginning of pregnancy, when hormonal changes are still taking place. They also constitute a physiological protection, useful to prevent any bacteria from nesting in the vagina.

In the presence of watery leaks, women first think of a rupture of the waters (amniorex) which occurs when the amniotic sac ruptures due to a tear of the fetal support membranes.

However, pregnant women should consider in this regard,

  • whereas there is a very low risk of suddenly losing water in pregnancy in the absence of any particular problems or pathologies;
  • whereas leakage due to imminent premature birth usually occurs along with other symptoms, including blood loss and typical labour contractions;
  • that water breaks occur with a large amount of expelled liquids, while hydrorrhea gravidarum consists of a flow that – even when it is abundant – is still much milder.

Towards the end of pregnancy it may happen that these watery losses are very abundant: in this case it is possible to do a specific examination in the hospital to ascertain if it is actually the amniotic fluid: in fact, for some pregnant women the amniotic sac ruptures even before the contractions begin.

What to do in case of water leaks

Watery leaks during pregnancy (totally discolored) can often be minor. To the point that a woman may not even notice it.

In any case, although it is a natural and temporary phenomenon, to have greater certainty and to avoid unnecessary anxiety, the best solution is to contact your trusted gynecologist.

If he deems it appropriate, he will prescribe an ultrasound, both to confirm the possible diagnosis of hydrorrhea gravidarum, and also in order to evaluate the condition of the amniotic sac and verify the absence of lesions or anomalies.

The production of vaginal secretions (also abundant) is largely attributable to the activity of hormones. Many doctors believe that, in part, they may also be due to the emotionality and state of agitation with which many women face their pregnancy.

Some relaxing activity is very useful to the pregnant woman – always – so also with regard to this problem: walks, gentle gymnastics, yoga and so on.

Apart from that, scrupulous intimate hygiene is extremely important: always, also to reduce the sense of discomfort and to avoid inflammation.

Attention to how leaks present themselves

In pregnancy, watery and transparent losses, often quite abundant, which are due to hormonal or emotional factors (hydrorrhea gravidarum) are common and do not involve any problems.

The same applies to the physiological pregnant vaginal secretions (more or less abundant and more or less viscous) of whitish-transparent color, that is, the increase in secretions of the vulva and vagina whitish and free of irritative phenomena (leucorrhoea): non-blood white discharge that (just like in the premenstrual period) are milky and filamentous.

It is always necessary to observe how these losses occur, in order to identify any pathologies or anomalies, Particular attention should be paid,

  • that these leaks do not have a turbid appearance, a yellow or greenish color,
  • unless they are accompanied by an unpleasant odour, pain, itching and burning,
  • all symptoms that are characteristic of a urinary or vaginal infection: candida in the same way as other germs that lurk easily in the vagina, in pregnancy can cause serious problems, including the risk of a birth before term,
  • but also to ensure that the leaks do not present traces of blood.

What to do in case of blood loss

In pregnancy, slight bleeding may occur, coming from the uterus, cervix (cervix) or vaginal canal.

Bright red blood loss, or dark or pinkish should always be a bit of concern, although in reality it is not always the case to be frightened.

  • Small brown discharge is quite normal in the first few months when the egg implants in the uterus.
  • Small losses can be caused by hormonal changes, or by minor traumas due for example to sexual intercourse or a gynecological examination.
  • A false menstruation lasting a few hours can also occur, on the dates of the cycle.

A significant bleeding instead is often the signal: of an ectopic pregnancy, of the abruption of the placenta, of a threat of abortion, of a premature birth if several months have already passed.

It is necessary to worry when the loss of bright red blood is accompanied by pain and cramps: it could be an abortion, a placental abruption, an anomaly or a premature labor: in these cases it is important to contact the doctor immediately or go to the emergency room.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform, Maternicity.com.

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