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Bleeding During Pregnancy

What can cause bleeding during pregnancy?
How is bleeding during early pregnancy checked?
When does miscarriage happen?
What are the signs and symptoms of miscarriage?
Is treatment needed after a miscarriage?
What is an ectopic pregnancy?
What risks are associated with ectopic pregnancy?
How common are ectopic pregnancies and who is at risk?
What causes bleeding late in pregnancy?
What is placental abruption?
What is placenta previa?
Can bleeding be a sign of labor?

What can cause bleeding during pregnancy?

Bleeding during pregnancy can have many causes, some serious and some not:

  • Stage of pregnancy – Bleeding can occur in early or late pregnancy. Many women experience vaginal spotting or bleeding within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Sex – Bleeding of the cervix can occur during or after sex.
  • Infection – Infections within the cervix can cause bleeding
  • Significance – Small amounts of bleeding often stop on their own.

Bleeding during pregnancy can be a sign of something more serious and increase the chances of:

  • Preterm labor
  • Giving birth to an abnormally small infant
  • Having a miscarriage.

How is bleeding during early pregnancy checked?

  • Your health care provider can perform a pelvic exam and ask question regarding bleeding you have noticed.
  • They can also run an HCG test, which measures human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy.
  • Your blood type will be checked to see if treatment is needed for Rh sensitization.
  • Ultrasounds can be used to find causes of bleeding.

When does miscarriage happen?

Miscarriage occurs within the first half of the pregnancy, most often within the first 13 weeks. Miscarriage occurs in 15-20% of all pregnancies.

What are the signs and symptoms of miscarriage?

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Cramping pain – low in the abdominal region (stronger than menstrual cramps)
  • Tissue passing from the vagina.

Is treatment needed after a miscarriage?

Sometimes tissue will remain in the uterus, and bleeding will continue. Sometimes more than one treatment option is needed.

Treatment options:

  • Medication to help you pass the tissue remaining in the uterus
  • Removal of tissue (can be removed by dilation and curettage or by a suctioning device)

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancy refers to when the fertilized egg does not implant in the uterus, often inside one of the fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancy causes pain and bleeding early in the pregnancy.

What risks are associated with ectopic pregnancy?

The main risk of an ectopic pregnancy is a fallopian tube rupture. A rupture needs immediate treatment, as there may be internal bleeding.

How common are ectopic pregnancies and who is at risk?

Ectopic pregnancies are far less common than miscarriages. Ectopic pregnancies occur in about 1 in 60 pregnancies.

Women who are at higher risk:

  • Infection within the fallopian tube (such as pelvic inflammatory disease)
  • Tubal surgery
  • Having a previous ectopic pregnancy.

What causes bleeding in late pregnancy?

The common causes of bleeding in late pregnancy are:

  • Growths on the cervix
  • Inflamed cervix
  • Problems with the placenta (placental abruption and placenta previa)
  • Preterm labor.

What is placental abruption?

Placental abruption is when the placenta detaches from the uterine wall before or during labor. Placental abruption can cause vaginal bleeding and pain. Immediate care is needed if placental abruption occurs, because the fetus may not be receiving enough oxygen.

What is placenta previa?

Placenta previa refers to when the placenta sits low within the uterus, possibly covering and blocking the cervix. May cause vaginal bleeding, usually without pain.

Can bleeding be a sign of labor?

Vaginal bleeding can be a sign of labor during late pregnancy. Bloody show refers to the discharge that is released before labor and contains a small amount of mucus that was used to plug the cervix. Bloody show is not a problem if it occurs within three weeks of the due date.

Some other signs of labor:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • Increase in the amount of discharge
  • Changes within the discharge (watery, mucus, bloody)
  • Pressure in the pelvis/lower abdomen
  • Dull aches within the lower back
  • Stomach cramps
  • Regular contractions

Contact your healthcare professional immediately if you have any of these symptoms.