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Causes of First Trimester Spotting

By Melanie Clatfelter ; Updated June 13, 2017

Bleeding, at any time during your pregnancy, can be a frightening experience. Vaginal bleeding is the top warning sign that your pregnancy may be in danger, but since there are many causes of bleeding in the early stages of pregnancy, it is always best to consult your physician.

Possible Delayed Menses

You missed your period, or so you thought. Has your pregnancy been confirmed by your physician or midwife? A false positive on a home pregnancy test and a delayed period, though rare, have both been known to happen. If you are not actually pregnant, then barring any medical conditions, your menstrual cycle should return to its regular schedule.

Implantation Bleeding

Up to 20 percent of women will experience implantation bleeding. In fact its resemblance to a period may lead many women to think that they are not pregnant. Bleeding from implantation actually occurs a few days earlier than a menstrual cycle and is much shorter than your actual period.

According to Roger W. Harms, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic, implantation bleeding can occur about 10 to 14 days after conception. This is the time when the fertilized egg burrows into the wall of the uterus. It is believed that the action of the egg implanting into the wall of the uterus may cause the light bleeding associated with implantation.

Pregnancy Loss

Miscarriage is a scary thought. The Mayo Clinic estimates that one in five confirmed pregnancies will end in miscarriage prior to the 13th week of gestation, and one of the first symptoms a woman will notice is brown or red vaginal spotting. This spotting may begin quite light and last for days, and it can turn quite heavy, resembling a menstrual flow. This bleeding is usually accompanied by forceful cramping. It is vital to visit your physician or midwife for testing. Though there is little they can do to prevent a miscarriage from occurring, the diagnosis helps ensure you receive all the medical and emotional support you need.

Cervical Bleeding

The experts at the American Pregnancy Association report that it is not uncommon to experience episodes of spotting following sexual intercourse. There is an influx of blood to the cervix during early pregnancy, and the act of intercourse itself can be irritating to the cervix at this stage of pregnancy. To be safe, discontinue intercourse until your doctor has had the chance to evaluate your cervix, but sexual relations during a healthy pregnancy are safe and will not cause a miscarriage.

Other Causes

Vaginal, uterine or even urinary tract infections may cause vaginal bleeding or blood in the urine, which can be mistaken for vaginal bleeding. It may be aggravating to learn that some early spotting during your pregnancy may never be explained. However, heavy bleeding is rarely benign. You should always seek treatment from your physician or midwife if you notice any bleeding or spotting during pregnancy.

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