The joy and anticipation connected with the arrival of a baby may be coupled with concern and worry in certain expecting mothers. The happy days of pregnancy may get tainted with certain complications that send alarm bells ringing. “Menstruation” or bleeding during pregnancy is one such problem that arises very frequently and needs immediate attention from the health provider or the gynecologist.
Occurrence of “menstruation” During Pregnancy
It is a common perception among quite a few expecting mothers that they have been having periods throughout their pregnancy.
This misconception is connected with the bleeding that takes place during pregnancy. Though the conditioned is considered normal in some cases, most mothers prefer to undergo a thorough checkup and take complete rest to avoid any further complications.
Appearance of “menstruation” During Pregnancy
The first appearance of bleeding or spotting usually takes place in the first three months of pregnancy and sometimes continues across the remaining months. Almost 10 percent of the pregnant women are found to have some traces of bleeding or spotting during pregnancy.
However, it has to be understood that the bleeding during pregnancy is quite unlike the normal menstruation in nature. Very light bleeding during the early months of pregnancy does not pose any inherent danger to the baby or the mother.
The normal menstruation process does not take place during the period of pregnancy as the body is totally focused on the growth and nurturing of the baby that is developing inside the uterus.
However, if the bleeding is heavy or occurs in the later months of pregnancy, then it is important to consult a doctor at the earliest. Pregnant women must be aware of the signs and symptoms and the dangers involved with bleeding during pregnancy.
Bleeding During Early Pregnancy
About 25 percent of the women in their first trimester experience some kind of bleeding or spotting and this is considered as fairly normal by the medical experts. It is common for many women to think that the vaginal bleeding during this period is caused due to menstruation. However, there are certain other causes that are responsible for the spotting from the vagina.
Some Causes of Bleeding During Early Pregnancy
After 10-14 days of fertilization, some pregnant women notice light vaginal bleeding that is caused by the positioning or implanting of the fertilized egg in the uterus. The disruption in the lining of the uterus to lodge the egg for the entire gestation period may cause this bleeding.
The bleeding should typically be very light and last for only a few days. A doctor should be immediately consulted if the bleeding becomes heavier or prolonged, as it may be a cause for concern.
Changes in the Cervix
During the first trimester and the early weeks of pregnancy, there are certain changes that take place in the cervical region. The cervix often shifts to accommodate the fetus and this can cause light bleeding. Slight inflammation or abrasion caused during pelvic examination or intercourse can also cause light spotting from the vagina.
If the bleeding becomes abnormally heavy or the “periods” become prolonged, then it is safe to visit the doctor for the determination of the cause of the bleeding.
Sometimes the bleeding during the first trimester can be indeed concerning , as it may lead to a miscarriage. Approximately 15-20 percent of the pregnancies end in miscarriages during this period. The occurrence of a miscarriage usually takes place in the first twelve weeks of the pregnancy.
If the bleeding is accompanied by chills, fever or cramping, then there may be the possibility of a miscarriage. An immediate pelvic examination for the condition of the baby should be conducted by the medical practitioner and further steps taken accordingly.
Every one out of 60 pregnancies may result in an ectopic pregnancy which is a serious problem. The condition can prove to be life threatening for the mother as well as the child. The ectopic pregnancy is accompanied by serious internal bleeding and pain and it is important to rush the pregnant woman to the hospital immediately.
Some Causes of Bleeding During Late Pregnancy
There are certain causes for the spotting or bleeding that occurs during the second or the third trimester. As explained earlier this bleeding is not related in any manner to menstruation or the normal periods.
Early or preterm labor or Infection in the Cervical Region
Though miscarriages or still birth are not very common during the later stages of a normal pregnancy, the appearance of vaginal bleeding at this stage needs immediate attention of the doctor. In most cases early or pre mature labor can cause bleeding in the later stages of pregnancy and this may be accompanied by cramps and contractions. An infection in the cervix may also cause bleeding or spotting.
Yeast Infection and other STDs
In certain cases the presence of certain sexually transmitted diseases or yeast infections can cause slight bleeding and inflammation of the cervix.
A simple examination by the gynecologist can help in detecting the cause for the bleeding and remedial steps can be taken accordingly. It is important for the pregnant women to remain calm during bleeding as the problem can be solved without harming the baby.
Reasons for “Menstruation” in the Absence of Pregnancy
Menstruation or periods are caused by the normal menstrual cycle. During the period of the menstrual cycle, certain hormones are released by the body, which influences the reproductive organs to perform certain pre defined functions. The hormones cause the ovaries to release an unfertilized egg that starts travelling down the fallopian tube.
The uterus starts preparing itself for receiving the egg, by thickening its walls with the help of blood and tissues. This is done to provide a protective layer for the fetus if the egg gets fertilized during that particular menstrual cycle. If the egg is not fertilized, then the hormone levels reduce and signals are sent to the uterus to shed this protective lining. The ejection process of the blood and tissues through the vagina is known as “menstruation” or periods.
It is important to understand and diagnose the true cause of bleeding during pregnancy. There are a number of reasons that cause spotting and abnormal discharge from the vagina and many of them are not risky for the health of the baby and the expecting mother.
However in certain cases, heavy bleeding may indeed be a cause of worry and concern and medical help should be sought urgently.