Involuntary loss of pregnancy, known medically as miscarriage, is relatively rare, according to MedlinePlus. One of the biggest signs of miscarriage is vaginal bleeding, yet not all vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is something for expectant moms to panic over, according to the Mayo Clinic. Prompt medical attention in some cases can protect you and your baby, so learning the difference between normal pregnancy bleeding and a possible miscarriage is an essential step toward your well-being.
Light vaginal bleeding is sometimes associated with pregnancy especially as the cervix becomes thinner, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, if the blood is clot-like or accompanied by dizziness, severe pain or fainting, a miscarriage is possible, according to Medline Plus.
A miscarriage usually occurs when a fetus has serious genetic problems and likely would not have been able to grow into a healthy child, according to Medline Plus. Hormone problems, infections, uncontrolled diabetes or general reproductive system problems can also contribute to miscarriage. Women over 35 and those who have suffered previous miscarriages are more likely to miscarry again in the future; keep in mind that many women who had a miscarriage can still deliver a healthy baby in the future.
Other Causes of Vaginal Bleeding
Ordinary vaginal bleeding associated with pregnancy can be caused by the process of the fetus implanting itself into the uterus; this is especially common during the first days of pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic. In some cases, serious problems not related to miscarriage, such as cervical cancer or a tubal pregnancy, can cause bleeding, according to Medline Plus. Near the end of pregnancy, your cervix may stretch and cause a light “bloody show” that indicates labor is imminent, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Not all pregnancy bleeding or miscarriages can be prevented or treated, according to the Mayo Clinic and Medline Plus. Tubal pregnancies must be medically terminated; these pregnancies feature a fetus lodged in a fallopian tube and must be removed through surgery or injection of drugs.
Miscarriage Time Frame and Prevalence
Miscarriages often happen before a woman knows she is pregnant, according to Medline Plus. About 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage; this figure may be higher as some women who miscarry did not realize they were passing a fetus rather than having a menstrual period. If a woman involuntarily loses a pregnancy after week 20, this is considered preterm labor or stillbirth.
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