Bleeding during early pregnancy

It is not uncommon to experience vaginal bleeding during the first trimester (first 12 weeks of pregnancy) and, although this can be due to a serious cause such as miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, it does not necessarily mean that this is happening to you.

Causes for vaginal bleeding at this time include:

  • miscarriage
  • ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy developing outside the womb)
  • molar pregnancy (gestational trophoblastic disease - GTD)
  • problems with the cervix (neck of the womb)
  • occasionally a reason for the bleeding cannot be found

Miscarriage is a very common problem of early pregnancy with at least one in every five pregnancies ending in a miscarriage. The reasons for most of these early pregnancy losses are not known, but what we do know is that many of these pregnancies did not form properly and that this is nature's way of 'starting again'. Most women who have one miscarriage will not experience another.

If you experience early pregnancy bleeding it is important that you see your GP, midwife or obstetrician. If you have very heavy bleeding, pain or are feeling faint then you should call an ambulance or be taken straight to the emergency department.

Patients with bleeding in early pregnancy can be seen at Westmead Hospital's Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinic [EPAC].

Fact sheets