About 25% of women experience pregnancy spotting in their first trimester. Seeing any bleeding during pregnancy can cause a lot of anxiety and concern.
Spotting during pregnancy
Spotting during pregnancy can happen in all situations and doesn’t necessarily point to there being something wrong. However, it’s normal to worry about miscarriage or other issues if you experience spotting during pregnancy.
Spotting refers to any light vaginal bleeding that occurs during pregnancy or between your periods.
A normal menstrual period or heavy flow of bleeding isn’t considered to be spotting.
Pregnancy spotting FAQ #1: What causes spotting in early pregnancy?
There are a number of different reasons for spotting during early pregnancy. Miscarriage is usually the first cause women think of, but there are other possible causes, such as:
- Irritated cervix: this can happen after sex, having a pelvic exam or transvaginal ultrasound. During pregnancy your cervix is more sensitive and can bleed more easily.
- Implantation bleeding: when the fertilised egg implants in your uterus, it burrows into the blood rich lining, sometimes causing small amounts of blood to escape.
- Cervix inflammation: most commonly this occurs due to an infection, such as sexually transmitted diseases or bacterial vaginosis. Condoms or diaphragms can also cause this inflammation.
- Cervical ectopy: cells from inside your cervical canal are on the outside of the cervix. This is quite common and the cells bleed easily.
- Ectopic pregnancy: when the fertilised egg implants somewhere other than the uterus, commonly in the Fallopian tubes. This can be life threatening to the mother.
Bleeding During Pregnancy covers other possible causes of bleeding.
Pregnancy spotting FAQ #2: Is spotting a sign of pregnancy?
If you’re trying to get pregnant, the two weeks between ovulation and your next expected period can seem to take forever. Most women spend this time very aware of every twinge and feeling.
One of the obvious signs of pregnancy is spotting, although that seems contradictory. Is spotting an early sign of pregnancy? Depends on when it happens.
Once the egg is fertilised it takes anything from 5 to 12 days to travel down to the uterus and burrow into the blood rich lining there. This process is called implantation and starts off the chain of hormonal events that cause most of the common pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, fatigue and mood changes.
As the egg burrows into the uterine lining it can disturb blood vessels, meaning you may see some very light spotting around this time. If you ovulated later in your cycle or the egg took longer to implant, this spotting may arrive around the time or slightly earlier than your next period.
Not all women experience spotting so it’s possible to have conceived and never experience spotting as an early sign of pregnancy.
Pregnancy spotting FAQ #3: What does pregnancy spotting look like?
So you think you might be pregnant and you’re experiencing some spotting. What does pregnancy spotting look like?
As mentioned above, pregnancy spotting is very light bleeding at any stage during pregnancy.
Pictures of spotting during pregnancy might show the colour varying between red, pink or light brown. It is usually a small amount, that may last a few hours or happen sporadically over a day or so.
Bleeding that is heavier and needs a menstrual pad is called vaginal bleeding and should be reported to your care provider.
Pregnancy spotting FAQ #4: Is spotting normal during pregnancy?
In the first trimester women wonder is spotting normal during pregnancy? The answer is it happens to about 25% of women and about half of those women go on to have uncomplicated pregnancies.
Spotting during early pregnancy can indicate a problem, so it’s always important to have any bleeding checked by your doctor.
Pregnancy spotting FAQ #5: Brown spotting during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, your body produces more vaginal discharge. This is a protective measure against bacteria and infection, and usually is a milky white, thin or slightly sticky in texture.
Browning spotting during pregnancy causes women a lot of concern, as the colour is so close to blood. The brown colour is due to the blood being old. For some reason, the blood takes longer to leave your uterus.
This means you may see brown coloured discharge or spotting. Brown spotting in early pregnancy isn’t generally a cause for concern, as it’s usually due to implantation or your cervix being irritated.
Dark brown spotting should be investigated as should any spotting that is ongoing for more than a few days, or is accompanied by cramping, nausea, foul odour or itching.
Pregnancy spotting FAQ #6: How long does pregnancy spotting last?
If the spotting has been caused by cervical irritation after sex or implantation, you might wonder how long does pregnancy spotting last.
Most often women will experience spotting for a few hours or a day. If spotting stops and then restarts after an interval of a day or so, then seek the advice of your doctor.
Spotting can be the early warning sign of a miscarraige, which happens about half of women who have early pregnancy bleeding. If this is happening, the spotting will get heavier at some point and you might experience cramping similar to menstrual cramps. The bleeding may last only a few hours or up to a few weeks. Read What Does Miscarriage Bleeding Look Like? for more information.
Pregnancy spotting FAQ #7: Does spotting during ovulation mean pregnancy?
Spotting is the presence of light bleeding during pregnancy or any time between periods. Some women do experience spotting during the month at the time they ovulate.
Does spotting during ovulation mean pregnancy? The simple answer to this is no. Research indicates spotting during ovulation is believed to be due to rapid changes in hormones. Ovulation must happen in order for pregnancy to be possible so spotting at this time can be a sign of your fertile window.