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Early pregnancy bleeding

Early pregnancy bleeding can be very stressful especially if it is planned wanted baby. In some cases it is perfectly harmless light bleeding (so called “implantation bleeding”) when embryo plants itself in the wall of uterus for future development but sometimes early pregnancy bleeding could be a sign of dangerous situation.

According to health experts, early pregnancy bleeding is relatively common – it can occur in about 20% (one in four women) pregnancies. In most cases it is not really a bleeding but kind of spotting (few drops of blood). But if pregnant woman has bleeding and cramping, it means urgent medical care is needed. Main causes of early pregnancy bleeding include the following:

Early pregnancy bleeding – implantation

Early pregnancy bleeding

Early pregnancy bleeding

Implantation bleeding is bleeding that occurs when the fertilized egg burrows (implants) into the internal lining of the uterus. Usually implantation bleeding appears 6 – 12 days after conception – around the time of the expected menstrual period. Sometimes implantation bleeding could appear before even woman realizes she is pregnant.

Implantation bleeding does not happen in every pregnancy and it can be considered as benign cause of bleeding. Implantation bleeding is usually light (sometimes like spotting), short (few days) and accompanied with some pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, morning sickness, breasts tenderness, increased appetite, tiredness, etc.

Early pregnancy bleeding – miscarriage

Sometimes women experience bleeding during first three months which could be threatened miscarriage – means dangerous situation which still can be treated and pregnancy can be saved. This is why urgent medical care is needed. Typical symptoms of threatened miscarriage include red (fresh blood) bleeding and mild cramping but the cervix stays closed and the fetus is still viable. Sometimes bleeding during threatened miscarriage stops itself, sometimes it stops after adequate treatment but sometimes it eventually ends up as full miscarriage (spontaneous abortion).

If spontaneous abortion happens during first 1-24 weeks of pregnancy, it called “miscarriage”. Commonly miscarriage occurs during first 12 weeks of gestation. About 15-20% pregnancies end up with miscarriage before 12 weeks of pregnancy. In general, one in five pregnant women could experience miscarriage. Typical symptoms of spontaneous abortion include the following:

  • Vaginal bleeding, sometimes with small pieces of tissue,
  • Abdominal or back pain (severe cramping),
  • Open cervix.

Miscarriage causes could be different including genetic abnormalities, hormonal insufficiency and infections.

Early pregnancy bleeding – ectopic pregnancy

According to health statistics, ectopic pregnancy occurs in approximately 1 out of 60 pregnancies. During ectopic pregnancy fertilized egg implants outside of uterus. Almost all ectopic pregnancies develop in Fallopian tubes and only 1% ectopic pregnancies could appear in the cervix, ovary or in the abdomen. Ectopic pregnancy in Fallopian tube called “tubal pregnancy”.

Ectopic pregnancy cannot survive. In general, ectopic pregnancy is pretty dangerous situation which required emergency care (often surgical interventions).

Typical ectopic pregnancy symptoms include the following:

  • Delayed menstrual period,
  • Mild vaginal bleeding,
  • Spreading increasing abdominal pain (while pregnancy grows, abdominal pain becomes increasingly severe),
  • Dizziness or fainting (caused by internal bleeding),
  • Reduced blood pressure (also caused by internal blood loss).

Early pregnancy bleeding – molar pregnancy

Molar pregnancy (gestational trophoblastic tumor) is very rare and specific abnormality of fertilization that results in the growth of abnormal tissue inside of uterus. It is not pregnancy but growth of abnormal dangerous tissue. Sometimes this tissue can be cancerous and can spread to other parts of the body. Molar pregnancy typical symptoms include the following:

  • Vaginal on-going bleeding,
  • Rapid uterus enlargement,
  • Severe nausea and vomiting.

Early pregnancy bleeding – cervical factors

Pregnancy could trigger changes in the cervix making it softer and more prone to bleeding. “Sleeping cervical polyp” could also start bleeding after mentioned changes. During pregnancy, additional (extra) blood flows to cervix. Sensitive pregnancy cervix could be infected or traumatized during intercourse. Vaginal infections (including sexually transmitted infections) also can cause early pregnancy bleeding.


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