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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.
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Vaginal bleeding in pregnancy has many causes. The effect on the pregnancy depends on which phase the bleeding occurs in and the cause. 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 sanitary 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 to view 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 August 2015. Accessed December 28, 2016.
Complications of labor and delivery. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115776/Complications-of-labor-and-delivery. Updated January 12, 2016. Accessed December 28, 2016.
Gestational trophoblastic disease. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/gestationaltrophoblasticdisease/detailedguide/index. Accessed December 28, 2016.
Pregnancy complications. Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/you-are-pregnant/pregnancy-complications.html. Updated September 27, 2010. Accessed December 28, 2016.
Last reviewed December 2016 by Andrea Chisholm, MD Last Updated: 5/20/2015