Kelly de la Rocha
Vaginal bleeding during the first trimester of pregnancy is common. It is often nothing to worry about. Bleeding during the second or third trimester can mean there is a significant complication.
If you have vaginal bleeding at any point during pregnancy, call your healthcare provider.
Vaginal bleeding in pregnancy has many causes. The effect on the pregnancy depends on which phase the bleeding occurs in. Some common causes include:
Risk factors increase your chance of having bleeding during pregnancy.
The amount of bleeding will be different for each cause. Wear a pad so you can tell how much you are bleeding. The blood may also appear different for different causes. Make note of how heavy the bleeding is and how the blood appears so you can tell your healthcare provider.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A pelvic exam may also be done.
Your healthcare provider may need to assess blood loss or determine blood type. This can be done through blood tests.
Your healthcare provider may need pictures of your vagina and/or abdomen. This can be done with:
Treatment depends on the cause of the bleeding and the severity of the condition. Treatments include:
To help reduce your chance of experiencing vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, take the following steps:
American Pregnancy Association
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
Bleeding during pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at:
http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/bleedingduringpreg.html. Updated October 2008. Accessed September 29, 2013.
Complications of labor and delivery. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 26, 2013. Accessed September 29, 2013.
Gestational trophoblastic disease. American Cancer Society website. Available at:
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/gestationaltrophoblasticdisease/detailedguide/index. Accessed September 29, 2013.
Pregnancy complications. Available at:
http://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/you-are-pregnant/pregnancy-complications.html. Updated September 27, 2010. Accessed September 29, 2013.
Last reviewed May 2015 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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