Spotting while pregnant is not considered harmful, but when the bleeding is heavy, this could be a sign of a complication with the pregnancy. Bleeding accompanied by period-like cramps could be a symptom of a miscarriage. If the bleeding is accompanied by sharp pains in the lower abdomen, this may be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. Let’s have a look at some of the different causes of bleeding during early pregnancy.

Different Causes of Bleeding During Early Pregnancy

1.      Common Causes of Bleeding During Early Pregnancy

a)      Hormones

The hormones responsible for controlling the menstrual cycle are often the major cause of bleeding. These hormones could trigger what is referred to as breakthrough bleeding and you may experience this kind of bleeding a few times.

b)     Infection

Infections in organs like the urinary tract and pelvic cavity could bring about vaginal bleeding.

c)      Postcoital Bleeding

Postcoital bleeding occurs after sexual intercourse. This occurs when the cervix is sensitive and irritated. In most cases the doctor will recommend that you stop having sex to prevent further irritation of the cervix. The good news is that normal intercourse cannot bring about a miscarriage.

d)     Implantation Bleeding

Implantation bleeding occurs during the first 6-12 days after conceiving. This occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus and though the bleeding is often light, many women confuse implantation bleeding to normal periods.

e)      Miscarriage Bleeding

  • Threatened miscarriage: Bleeding and cramping are signs of a threatened miscarriage. In such a case, the fetus would still be inside the uterus, but the pregnancy may be under threat. This could be due to dehydration, urinary tract infection, physical trauma, an abnormal fetus and use of some drugs and medication. A threatened miscarriage also may be caused by having sex, lifting heavy loads and emotional stress.
  • Completed miscarriage: A complicated miscarriage, also referred to as spontaneous abortion, is caused by the same miscarriage causes. This type of bleeding is the most popular during early pregnancy. Signs include reduced bleeding and cramping, and an empty uterus upon uterus evaluation with an ultrasound.
  • Miscarriage in progress: A miscarriage in progress, also known as an incomplete miscarriage, could be the reason for your vaginal bleeding. In this case, a pelvic exam will indicate an open cervix with tissue, blood or clots passing through. The cervix does not stay open for long and when it is open, this indicates that the miscarriageis still in progress. This miscarriage occurs due to an infection or when the uterus clamps down early which is before all tissues have passed through it.

2.      Severe Causes of Bleeding During Early Pregnancy

a)        Fibroid

A fibroid is a growth within the uterus lining, and bleeding could occur when the placenta attaches itself where a fibroid already exists.

b)       Molar pregnancy

Gestational trophoblastic disease known simply as molar pregnancyis the absence of normal tissue in the uterus. The uterus will have abnormal tissue instead of the developing fetus and this is basically a tumor. In most cases, the abnormal tissue is not cancerous, but it could be.

c)        Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is an abnormal pregnancy since the egg is implanted outside the uterus instead of inside it. In most ectopic pregnancies, implantation occurs within the fallopian tubes and this may cause the fallopian tube to rupture if the embryo begins to develop. Such pregnancies are dangerous but not common, as they form only 2% of all pregnancies.

d)       Blighted ovum

A blighted ovum, also known as an embryonic failure, occurs when the embryo fails to develop normally in its correct location. This occurs when the fetus has an abnormality and it is not caused by something that the expectant woman did or did not do. An ultrasound exam is conducted to show if the pregnancy has developed as normal or failed.

e)        Intrauterine fetal demise

An intrauterine fetal demise (IUFD), also referred to as a missed abortion or an embryonic demise, means you have a dead fetus in the uterus. This could occur due to the same reasons as a threatened miscarriage and during any stage of pregnancy.

Treatment for Bleeding During Early Pregnancy

Heavy bleeding may require hospitalization or even surgical treatment. However, in most cases, bleeding is simply treated by rest. You may be advised to:

  • avoid sexual intercourse
  • take some time off from work
  • avoid douching during pregnancy (douching is also not advised when not pregnant)
  • avoid tampons
  • rest

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor immediately when you experience:

  • abdominal or pelvis pain
  • heavy bleeding
  • bleeding and dizziness
  • bleeding accompanied by cramping or pain

Make sure that you seek medical attention whether or not the bleeding has stopped.