If You Are Spotting While Pregnant, This Is When You Should See A Doctor
Pregnancy brings with it a whole host of symptoms at every stage of the journey. While many are simply par for the course, such as fatigue, mood swings, frequent urination, and food aversions (per the Mayo Clinic ), others can be more worrisome. Although the menstrual cycle ceases during pregnancy, many women still experience spotting, which is when small amounts of blood are discharged from the vagina. In fact, the March of Dimes points out that around one in four pregnancies will be accompanied by some spotting. However, this can understandably lead to anxiety that something is seriously wrong. The severity of the situation depends on the amount, frequency, cause, and trimester in which it occurs, explains the American Pregnancy Association .
Spotting can take place throughout pregnancy but is more common in the first trimester, specifically early on when the fertilized egg (known as the embryo) implants in the uterine lining (via the American Pregnancy Association). Any blood loss that occurs at this point will be much less than during a normal menstrual period. Other reasons you may experience spotting in the first trimester are cervical changes, sexual intercourse, and an infection (per the March of Dimes). In some cases, spotting can be an early sign of a miscarriage or indicative of an ectopic pregnancy.
If you experience spotting during pregnancy, you may wonder if and when you should contact your doctor. Here are some important considerations.
Always Check In With Your Doctor When You Notice Spotting During Pregnancy
Healthline specifies that even if the cause is benign, it's important to contact your medical provider if you notice spotting during your pregnancy. This allows them to conduct a thorough analysis of the cause of the spotting, and if it is, in fact, nothing serious, they will be able to give you peace of mind.
It is even more crucial to be seen by your doctor if the spotting takes place later on in pregnancy, after the first trimester . While some light spotting during the second or third trimester could simply be due to sexual intercourse or a cervical exam, heavy bleeding could be related to more serious causes, such as placenta previa, late miscarriage, or early labor (via Healthline). Another possible reason is placental abruption, which is when the placenta becomes detached from the wall of the uterus, per the Mayo Clinic . This can pose a huge risk to the lives of both mother and baby.
Once you contact your doctor, they will likely want to perform tests. These exams may include a blood test to measure pregnancy hormone levels, according to Sanford Health . Following this, an ultrasound may be performed to determine whether the pregnancy is developing as it should or if there are internal complications that need to be addressed. You should be prepared to disclose to your medical provider the amount and frequency of bleeding that has occurred to help them properly diagnose the issue.
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