Yeast occurs naturally in the vaginal area. Yeast thrive in warm and moist parts of the body and feed off sugars. When a woman is pregnant her vaginal secretions increase, which can include sugars. This combination of factors during pregnancy makes it easy for yeast to proflierate and overwhelm the vaginal tissues. When yeast are overabundant, the result is a yeast infection. Symptoms of a yeast infection in late pregnancy are the same as any other yeast infection, but they may be harder to differentiate from normal vaginal changes from pregnancy hormones.
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Any itching or discomfort in the genital region, including the labia, vaginal opening and surrounding tissues, is a potential sign of a yeast infection. The area may be tender to the touch or the touch of clothing may be more uncomfortable than usual. The American Pregnancy Association suggests the tissues may even appear red, including the outer section of the labia. Vaginal creams or suppositories are safe for use during pregnancy, but a woman should check with her medical professional just to be sure. The infection should improve within three days of treatment. It is not uncommon for yeast infections to become recurrent during pregnancy.
Vaginal secretions during pregnancy are normal, especially during the late stages of pregnancy. A woman may lose her mucus plug sometime in the later stages of pregnancy. This plug remains in place at the base of the cervix to keep the fluids surrounding the baby from exiting the woman's body. As pregnancy nears the end, the cervix can dilate in preparation for delivering the baby. The plug discharge differs quite significantly from a yeast infection. A woman may notice stringy, mucus-like discharge that can be brown or tinged with blood. This is the mucus plug. A yeast infection will cause white, creamy discharge resembling cottage cheese, states BabyCenter.com. The American Pregnancy Association says the discharge amounts may be large and the color can be yellow or green. Either source of discharge is likely to be odorless, but the American Pregnancy Association suggests the yeast discharge may smell like bread yeast.
Urinating may cause a burning sensation during a yeast infection. This is due to the urine coming in contact with already irritated, and sometimes raw, genital tissues. Sexual intercourse may be painful. Women should discuss the possibility of spreading a yeast infection to her partner. Yeast is not typically a sexually transmitted infection, but sexual intercourse can cause the vaginal bacteria to get out of balance, leading to an infection.