Vaginal Bleeding During Pregnancy



During pregnancy, common causes of vaginal bleeding are:

  • Implantation bleeding—bleeding that happens after conception when the fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the womb
  • Miscarriage
  • Blighted ovum—A fertilized egg that attaches to the wall of the womb but does not grow into an embryo
  • Ectopic pregnancy—a fertilized egg that grows outside the womb
  • Molar pregnancy (gestational trophoblastic disease)—the growth of abnormal tissue, instead of an embryo, inside the womb
  • Threatened miscarriage
  • Infection of the cervix, vulva, or vagina
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Trauma
  • Cervical cancer or polyps

Risk Factors

Things that raise the risk of bleeding depend on what is causing it to happen.



The main symptom is bleeding during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Bleeding may be light or heavy. There may also be cramping.


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will include a pelvic exam.

Blood tests will be done to look for a cause.

An ultrasound may be done to check on the pregnancy.



For many people, no treatment is needed. Bleeding due to egg and womb attachment should clear in a few days.

For others, treatment depends on the cause. If needed, treatment may include:

  • Medicine to treat some causes. This may include progesterone, a hormone that supports a pregnancy.
  • Rho immune globulin for mothers with Rh-negative blood. This can stop the body from making antibodies against the fetus' blood.


Some causes of bleeding cannot be prevented. Getting early and regular prenatal care can help find and treat some problems before they happen.

Avoiding smoking, drugs, and alcohol can also help reduce the risk of bleeding.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.