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Vaginal bleeding in pregnancy

Contents of this page:


Ultrasound in pregnancy
Ultrasound in pregnancy
Female reproductive anatomy
Female reproductive anatomy
Anatomy of a normal placenta
Anatomy of a normal placenta
Placenta previa
Placenta previa
Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy

Alternative Names    Return to top

Pregnancy - vaginal bleeding; Maternal blood loss

Definition    Return to top

Vaginal bleeding in pregnancy is bleeding coming through the vagina during pregnancy, for any reason.

Considerations    Return to top

Up to 10% of women have vaginal bleeding at some time during their pregnancy, especially in the first 3 months (first trimester). Bleeding is even more common with twins.

To help prevent a miscarriage or other problems during pregnancy:

Causes    Return to top

During the first 3 months, vaginal bleeding may be a sign of a miscarriage. See the doctor right away. During months 4 - 9 bleeding may be a sign of:

Other possible causes of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy:

Other diseases and medications can cause bleeding during pregnancy. The causes may differ depending on your age.

Characteristics of the bleeding can indicate its causes. These include:

Home Care    Return to top

Avoid sexual intercourse until you know the cause of the bleeding. Drink only fluids if the bleeding and cramping are severe.

If a miscarriage occurs, expect a small amount of vaginal bleeding for up to 10 days. Avoid using tampons for 2 to 4 weeks.

Medication is usually not necessary -- don't take any medication without talking to your doctor.

When to Contact a Medical Professional    Return to top

Contact your health care provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit    Return to top

Your health care provider will get a medical history and will perform a physical examination.

The doctor may ask you the following questions:

The physical examination will probably include a pelvic examination.

Tests that may be performed include:

Your doctor may recommend:

References    Return to top

Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, ed. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2007.

Update Date: 2/19/2008

Updated by: Peter Chen, MD, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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