Difference Between a Mucus Plug and a Discharge
a Mucus Plug vs a Discharge
In pregnancy, a mucus plug, or also known as a cervical mucus plug, is a plug that functions as a seal or a barrier for the uterus, a hollow organ, the holds the fetus during pregnancy. Imagine a cork plugged into a wine bottle. The cork is the mucus plug while the wine bottle is the uterus. The function of the mucus plug prevents the infestation and the penetration of unwanted organisms, such as, bacteria, viruses, and parasites into the uterus. Thus, it protects the baby.
A vaginal discharge, on the other hand, is different. During pregnancy there is this normal, odorless and whitish discharge called leukorrhea which also occurs prior to pregnancy. This is due to an increased production of female hormones such as estrogen. The vaginal discharge is also due to an increased flow of blood to the vagina. The discharge is composed mainly of substances from the cervix and vaginal walls.
The mucus plug is also made of cervical secretions which were formed to become a barrier during early pregnancy. If it’s the fetus’ time to get out of the womb, the cervix undergoes a term called effacement and dilation. In effacement, the cervix becomes thin, allowing the mucus plug to expel. The mucus plug looks like an egg white and may have tinge of blood. But during pregnancy, mucus is thick in its concentration. It is also transparent in color and very sticky. But again, at the latter phase of pregnancy and before the start of labor, the mucus plug dissolves and may present itself as a plug itself or an increased and continuous discharge for a few more days. When this happens, labor becomes inevitable. The pregnant woman must be brought to the hospital right away.
Though it’s quite difficult to distinguish if it’s a mucus plug or just a plain vaginal discharge, it’s still best to call your OB/Gynecologists for an assessment and inspection for you and your baby’s welfare. You should also call your doctor if it’s not yet the month of your term for labor because this may indicate pre-term labor as well if the discharge becomes watery or bloody.
The following discharges must also be reported: If there is an odorless and whitish discharge that comes out of your vagina, it is probably a yeast infection. In yeast infections there is pain during intercourse or urination, tenderness, and itchiness. If there is a fish-like smell after sex, then you should suspect a bacterial vaginosis. If there is a greenish or yellowish discharge which is not pleasant to the nose, suspect a trichomoniasis. It is a form of STI or sexually transmitted infection.
A mucus plug can be seen inside the uterus protecting it from unwanted organisms while a vaginal discharge can be seen from the cervix.
A mucus plug dissolves before the start of pregnancy. A vaginal discharge occurs at different phases of pregnancy up to the post partum stage.
A mucus plug is whitish in consistency, odorless, and may have a tinge of blood while a vaginal discharge can have different colors and may have unpleasant odor attributes.
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