Vaginal Bleeding

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What causes abnormal vaginal bleeding during pregnancy?

Many women have some amount of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. Some studies show that up to 30% of pregnant women will experience some degree of vaginal bleeding while they are pregnant. Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is more common with twins and other multiple gestations than with singleton pregnancies (pregnancy with one fetus).

Sometimes women experience a very scant amount of bleeding in the first two weeks of pregnancy, usually around the time of the expected menstrual period. This slight bleeding is sometimes referred to as "implantation bleeding." Doctors do not know for certain what causes this bleeding, but it may occur as a result of the fertilized egg implanting in the uterine wall.

The amount of the bleeding, the stage of pregnancy, and any associated symptoms can all help determine the cause of vaginal bleeding in pregnancy. While vaginal bleeding in pregnancy does not always signify a problem with the pregnancy, women who experience bleeding during pregnancy should be evaluated by a doctor.

Causes of vaginal bleeding in pregnancy include miscarriage, an abnormal location of the placenta, ectopic pregnancy, cervical infection or polyp, and premature labor. Chronic medical conditions and medication use can also be related to vaginal bleeding during pregnancy.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/17/2015

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