Vaginal spotting is when a woman has a small amount of vaginal bleeding. The difference between spotting and bleeding is that spotting consists of just some drops, while bleeding is more much more than a few drops. The blood from the vagina could be brown (old blood) or bright red (fresh blood). Spotting can happen anytime during a menstrual cycle or during pregnancy.
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Spotting can also be noticed as a blood spot or two, or more. Spotting can occur for many reasons, ranging from normal to abnormal. Pregnancy spotting is common in early pregnancy, happening in about 1 out of 2 pregnancies, and most go on to be normal. Keep in mind that during different times during pregnancy, spotting can occur and the cause depends on several factors. Some of the spotting can be of major concern, especially if it becomes heavy bleeding.
First Trimester Pregnancy Spotting
During the first trimester, pregnancy spotting can occur at the time of egg (blastocysts) implantation and during times of physical distress. Pregnancy spotting due to implantation is typically light and often associated with the coming menstrual cycle. Later, after pregnancy is verified, pregnancy spotting can occur if the pregnant woman overexerts herself by lifting too much or exercising too hard.
Second Trimester Pregnancy Spotting
During the second trimester of pregnancy, spotting does not typically occur unless provoked by overexertion. In this case, the doctor may place a pregnant woman on bed rest. Sex during pregnancy can cause pregnancy spotting, however, but this spotting has nothing to do with the fetus. Pregnancy spotting after sex is often attributed to the increased blood flow to the vagina and cervix. Abrasions or small tears inside the vagina can result in pregnancy spotting after sex. It is important to use lubrication if there is a problem with vaginal dryness to prevent injury to the vagina and cervix.
Third Trimester Pregnancy Spotting
By the third trimester, the pregnancy is winding down and women may experience pregnancy spotting as a result of the mucus plug loosening and flushing out of the body. Most women never see the mucus plug, but they do see an increase in vaginal discharge that may be tinted with blood; pregnancy spotting. If the pregnancy spotting does not continue regularly, tell the doctor of the increased discharge and pregnancy spotting at the next visit so he or she can check to see if the mucus plug is intact or gone.
What to Do If Pregnancy Spotting Occurs
Women experiencing pregnancy spotting need to contact their attending obstetrician or midwife immediately. There is no situation that should be left unreported. The attending health care provider may place the pregnant woman on bed rest or ask her to relax a bit for a few days to see if the pregnancy spotting continues. If the pregnancy is nearing an end and pregnancy spotting continues with cramping and back pain, it could be a sign of labor.
When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention
If pregnancy spotting starts lights and turns into pregnancy bleeding, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Pregnancy bleeding can be a sign of an emergency situation that could lead to pre-term labor or miscarriage. The obstetrician or healthcare provider will be contacted by the hospital emergency room, so do not wait for the doctor to call back if pregnancy bleeding is occurring.