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Bleeding During Pregnancy

How to prevent and treat vaginal bleeding during pregnancy

Bleeding during early pregnancy is actually fairly common and is usually nothing to worry about. In fact, anywhere from one-fifth to almost one-third of women experience vaginal bleeding in the first trimester. Heavy bleeding during pregnancy, however, or bleeding in the second and third trimester, could be an indication of trouble and should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

Causes of Bleeding During Pregnancy

Common causes of bleeding in early pregnancy include:

Implantation bleeding can occur anywhere between 6 and 12 days after conception and may last a few hours or a few days. It presents at light bleeding or "spotting". Bleeding because of an infection or after intercourse should be addressed by a doctor but is not necessarily a sign of danger to the fetus. However, you should refrain from having intercourse, using tampons, or introducing anything into the vaginal area (douches, creams, etc.) until you have been examined by a doctor.

Of course, sometimes vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is a sign of complications such as ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. In these cases, however, bleeding is often accompanied by other symptoms, including abdominal pain and cramping. In late pregnancy, bleeding may be a sign of placental abruption, placenta previa, or even preterm labor. Again, these conditions often present with other symptoms, not just bleeding.

What to Do If You Experience Bleeding during Pregnancy

If you experience light bleeding or spotting early in pregnancy, and it is not accompanied by stomach pain, cramping, or other danger signs (such as abnormal hCG levels), then you do not need to do anything. Simply avoid tampons, douches, intercourse, and anything that introduces a foreign element into the vagina, as this may irritate the cervix and cause further bleeding. If the bleeding gets heavier or persists longer than a few days, contact your healthcare provider.

If you experience heavy bleeding during pregnancy, or if bleeding occurs after the twelfth week (in the second or third trimester), contact your healthcare provider immediately.

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