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Pregnancy bleeding

Bleeding during pregnancy is always unpleasant and stressful (especially if it is happening during first pregnancy). What to do? How to react? Is pregnancy bleeding common or dangerous symptom? Answer is not simple but in all cases better to visit your doctor for consultation. At the same time, every pregnant woman should know that about 20-25% women experience some bleeding during first trimester of pregnancy. Rarely women experience bleeding during late pregnancy. Bleeding during pregnancy can be a sign of some serious health conditions and it is very important to know all possible causes of pregnancy bleeding.

Pregnancy bleeding – implantation bleeding

Every pregnant woman can experience so called “implantation bleeding” which can occur anywhere from 6-12 days after possible conception. Implantation bleeding could appear as very light spots (during few hours) or as brown spotting (during few days) or as bloody discharge (during 1-3 days). Usually implantation bleeding is pretty light and lasts from few hours to few days.

Implantation bleeding appears when fertilized egg implants itself in the lining of the uterus. Actually fertilized egg identified the place of pregnancy development inside of uterus. According to scientists, implantation happens within the first six – twelve days after you conceive. Some women don’t identify early pregnancy and they could mistake implantation bleeding for monthly regular but light menstrual period.

Pregnancy bleeding – miscarriage

Miscarriage (so called “spontaneous abortion”) is when embryo or fetus dies before twentieth week of pregnancy. It is actually the spontaneous loss of pregnancy. Miscarriage can be considered as the biggest complication of pregnancy during first trimester.

According to scientists, about 15-20% of all pregnancies result in a miscarriage (identified or not identified) and the majority occur during first trimester of pregnancy (1-12 weeks). If you bleed during firth months of pregnancy, it doesn’t mean you will end up with miscarriage. According to health experts, only about 20% women who experience bleeding during first trimester could miscarry.

Pregnancy bleeding

Most common symptoms of miscarriage include:

  • Vaginal bleeding,
  • Strong cramps in the lower abdomen,
  • Dizziness,
  • Bloody tissue passing through vagina.

Pregnancy bleeding – ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy occurs when fertilized egg implants (attaches) itself not inside of uterus but in Fallopian tubes or in abdomen or in cervix. Actually ectopic pregnancy grows outside of uterus but fertilized egg cannot develop properly in unusual places. Most common are ectopic pregnancies in Fallopian tubes. During tubal ectopic pregnancy the embryo grows causing enlargement of Fallopian tube which could trigger burst. It could be life threatening situation and emergency health care would be needed.

According to health statistics, ectopic pregnancy occurs in 1 out of 50-60 pregnancies (about 2% of all pregnancies). It can be considered rare but ectopic pregnancy could have serious health consequencies.

Main causes of ectopic pregnancy include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, surgery on Fallopian tubes or in pelvic area, smoking and in vitro vertilization.

Common signs of ectopic pregnancy include the following:

  • Low abdomen cramping pain or sharp pain,
  • Vaginal bleeding,
  • Dizziness,
  • Decreased levels of pregnancy hormone hCG.

Molar pregnancy

Molar pregnancy (so called “gestational trophoblastic disease GTD”) is rare – it is a condition in which abnormal tissue grows inside uterus instead of normal pregnancy – tissue in the uterus becomes an abnormal mass or tumor instead of normal placenta. Sometimes mentioned abnormal tissue can be cancerous and can spread to other organs and parts of body.

According to scientists, molar pregnancy is triggered by imbalance in genetic material (chromosomes) in pregnancy. This condition occurs when unhealthy egg (without genetic information) is fertilized by healthy sperm or when healthy egg is fertilized by sperm with extra set of chromosomes or when healthy egg is fertilized by two spermatozoa. In all mentioned cases pregnancy cannot survive and it dies during first few weeks.

Common signs of molar pregnancy include the following:

  • On-going vaginal bleeding during first weeks of pregnancy,
  • Severe nausea and vomiting,
  • Unusual rapid enlargement of uterus,
  • Unusually high levels of pregnancy hormone hCG,
  • Grape-like clusters inside of uterus visible on ultrasound pictures.

Placental problems

During second half of pregnancy women could experience placental problems including abruption and placenta previa.

Placental abruption can be triggered by several factors such as abdominal trauma, abnormalities in uterus (inherited or post-surgery), hypertension, pregnancy with twins or triplets, smoking and drug addiction.
During placental abruption usually women experience vaginal bleeding, clots from the vagina, tender uterus, abdominal pain and/or back pain

Placenta previa occurs when the placenta lies low in uterus partly or covers (partially or completely) the opening of cervix. Placenta previa more common in women with history of several pregnancies, Cesarean section or uterus surgery. Placenta previa could occur also during pregnancies with twins or triplets. It is pretty serious condition and requires emergency health care.

Vaginal bleeding during placenta previa can be painless.

Preterm (premature) labor

It is well known that vaginal bleeding could be a sign of starting labor. Before labor starts women could notice passing mucus plug and bleeding. If it occurs earlier, it could be a sign of preterm labor (before 37th week of pregnancy). Main symptoms of preterm labor include contractions, vaginal discharge, abdominal pressure and ache in lower back.

Pregnancy bleeding – episodes

Pregnant women could also have episodes of vaginal bleeding during following health conditions:

  • Urinary tract infections (UTI),
  • Infections in pelvic,
  • Cervical infections,
  • Trauma (cervical or vaginal),
  • Sexually transmitted infections (chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, herpes),
  • Polyps,
  • Cancer.

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