The first trimester of pregnancy is the most common time to experience vaginal bleeding, and usually, it’s no cause for alarm. Since bleeding can occasionally signify something more serious, it’s important to know what causes bleeding and to get checked out by your doctor to ensure you and your child are fine.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Vaginal Bleeding in the First Trimester
- 2 Vaginal Bleeding in the Second and Third Trimesters
Vaginal Bleeding in the First Trimester
In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, approximately 20% of women experience vaginal bleeding. Bleeding during the first trimester may be caused by:
As the fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining, you may experience some mild spotting during the first six to 12 days after conception. This vaginal bleeding may cause some women to misunderstand that they are pregnant instead of having their period. It lasts between a few hours and a few days when there is vaginal bleeding.
Since miscarriages are most common during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, first trimester vaginal bleeding is one of the most common causes of concern. In the first trimester, you may experience vaginal bleeding, but this does not mean that you have lost the baby or are miscarrying. Most women who experience vaginal bleeding in the first trimester won’t miscarry if they see a heartbeat on ultrasound.
There may also be lower abdominal cramping and tissue passing through the vaginal opening during a miscarriage.
Ectopic pregnancy, in which the embryo implants outside the uterus, is usually in the fallopian tube. Growing embryos pose a serious health risk to mothers when they rupture the fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancies, though potentially dangerous, are rare.
Additionally, cramps and light-headedness are effects of ectopic pregnancy.
Molar pregnancy (also called gestational trophoblastic disease)
During this rare condition, abnormal tissue grows in place of a child inside the uterus. Rarely, the tissue is cancerous, spreading to other organs.
In addition to nausea and vomiting, a molar pregnancy is associated with rapid uterine growth.
In early pregnancy, there can also be vaginal bleeding due to:
The cervix receives extra blood during pregnancy. Contact with the cervix during an intimate encounter or while undergoing a Pap test can result in bleeding. The type of bleeding you’re experiencing isn’t concerning.
First trimester vaginal bleeding can occur from any infection (including chlamydia, gonorrhea, or herpes) of the cervix, vagina, or sexually transmitted diseases.
Vaginal Bleeding in the Second and Third Trimesters
A woman of late pregnancy may experience abnormal vaginal bleeding, which can be a sign that something is wrong with either the mother or the baby. In the event of bleeding in your second or third trimester, notify your doctor as soon as possible.
There are several reasons why late pregnancy can lead to vaginal bleeding, including:
Placentas that sit low in the uterus partially or completely block the opening of the birth canal as a result of this condition. The occurrence of placenta previa in the third trimester is very rare, occurring in one out of two hundred pregnancies. Even when painless, bleeding placenta previa is a serious medical emergency that must be treated immediately.
Placentas detach from pregnancy walls before or during labor in about 1% of pregnancies, causing blood to pool in the uterine cavity. Both the mother and the baby can be in danger from placental abruption.
Scars from previous C-sections can tear open during pregnancy in rare situations. Untreated uterine rupture can lead to death, and emergency C-sections are required.
A painful abdomen and tender is also a sign of uterine rupture.
Rarely, the umbilical cord or placenta of a pregnant woman crosses over the entrance to the birth canal. The baby can bleed severely and lose oxygen when the blood vessels tear open in vasa Previa, which is very dangerous.
Abnormal fetal heart rates and excessive bleeding are also signs of vasa previa.
In early pregnancy, you may experience vaginal bleeding as your body prepares to give birth. The mucus plug that covers the uterine opening will pass through the vagina a few days or weeks before labor begins; in most cases, the plug contains a small amount of blood. (This is what is known as ‘bloody show’). Before the 37th week of pregnancy, if bleeding or symptoms of labor appear, contact your doctor immediately because you may be in preterm labor.
There can also be contractions, vaginal discharge, abdominal pressure, and an ache in the lower back associated with preterm labor.
In late pregnancy, there can also be bleeding from the vaginal area:
- Cervical or vaginal injury
- The polyp
- The disease of cancer
Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know
A female experiencing vaginal bleeding during any trimester should consult with a doctor. Keep a record of your bleeding, along with the type of blood (for example, pink, brown, red; smooth, or clot-filled). Please take any tissue passing through the vagina to your doctor for evaluation. Tampons and sex, while you are bleeding, shouldn’t be used.
An ultrasound can determine why you are bleeding. Ultrasounds of the vaginal and abdominal cavities are often performed in tandem during a complete examination.
You should speak to your doctor immediately if any of the following symptoms occur, as they could represent the beginning of a miscarriage or other health issue:
- An abdominal cramp or severe pain
- Bleeding without pain or with severe bleeding
- Vaginal discharge containing tissue
- Fainting or dizziness
- The presence of a fever exceeding 100.4 degrees or the presence of chills