1. Implantation Bleeding
It is a common cause of spotting early on in pregnancy. Implantation bleeding happens when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. This can trigger a few days of light bleeding or spotting. This spotting often occurs before a woman even knows she is pregnant and is often mistaken as a pending period. Bleeding that occurs after the day a woman expects her period is typically too late to be considered implantation bleeding, and is more likely related to early pregnancy in general.
2. Molar Pregnancy
Molar pregnancy, also known as gestational trophoblastic disease or hydatidiform mole, is an abnormality of fertilization that results in the growth of abnormal tissue within the uterus.
- Molar pregnancy is not a typical pregnancy, but the growth within the uterus leads to the typical symptoms of early pregnancy.
- In a complete hydatiform mole, there is only abnormal tissue in the uterus (and no fetus).
- In a so-called partial mole, there is abnormal tissue growth along with the presence of a fetus with severe birth defects.
- The fetus is typically consumed by the abnormal growth of tissue in the uterus, and a molar pregnancy cannot result in a normal fetus or delivery.
- Vaginal spotting or bleeding can be a symptom of molar pregnancy.
- A sonogram or ultrasound is used to diagnose a molar pregnancy.
3. Ectopic Pregnancy
In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized embryo implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. If the embryo keeps growing, it can cause the fallopian tube to burst, which can be life-threatening to the mother. Although ectopic pregnancy is potentially dangerous, it only occurs in about 2% of pregnancies.
Other symptoms of ectopic pregnancy are strong cramps or pain in the lower abdomen, and lightheartedness.
4. Sexual Intercourse
During the second and third trimester, your cervix becomes swollen because of the increased blood supply in the area. As a result, vigorous intercourse may cause spotting during pregnancy.
Some women have cervical bleeding because of an infection, usually a sexually transmitted disease such as chlamydia. In this case, the underlying condition needs to be treated.
6. Internal Exam Done By Your Obstetrician Or Midwife
It’s not uncommon to bleed after a Pap smear or pelvic exam, which in many practices is conducted between the sixth and 12th week of pregnancy. Spotting may occur within 24 hours after the visit and usually goes away within a day.
7. Threatened Miscarriage
You may be told you have a threatened miscarriage (sometimes also referred to as threatened abortion) if you are having some bleeding or cramping. The fetus is definitely still inside the uterus (based usually on an exam using ultrasound), but the outcome of your pregnancy is still in question. This may occur if you have an infection, such as a urinary tract infection, become dehydrated, use certain drugs or medications, have been involved in physical trauma, if the developing fetus is abnormal in some way, or for no apparent reason at all. Other than these reasons, threatened miscarriages are generally not caused by things you do, such as heavy lifting, having sex, or by emotional stress.
8. Completed Miscarriage
You may have a completed miscarriage (also called a spontaneous abortion) if your bleeding and cramping have slowed down and the uterus appears to be empty based on ultrasound evaluation. This means you have lost the pregnancy. The causes of this are the same as those for a threatened miscarriage. This is the most common cause of first trimester bleeding.
9. Incomplete Miscarriage
You may have an incomplete miscarriage (or a miscarriage in progress) if the pelvic exam shows your cervix is open and you are still passing blood, clots, or tissue. The cervix should not remain open for very long. If it does, it indicates the miscarriage is not completed. This may occur if the uterus begins to clamp down before all the tissue has passed, or if there is infection.