Richmond Practice - Bleeding in early pregnancy - is it dangerous?

Bleeding in early pregnancy - is it dangerous?
Almost 20% of pregnant women experience some vaginal bleeding in the early stages of their pregnancy, and it is unlikely that this bleeding will harm your pregnancy or your baby. However bleeding may also be a warning that indicates a miscarriage. Bleeding usually happens at the same time as the period would be due and may last for one or more days. You may notice it while using the toilet.

There are a several reasons for bleeding, some of which are harmless:
  • breakthrough bleeding - hormones controlling the menstrual cycles triggering bleeding
  • implantation bleeding - the fertilized egg implanting into your uterus can cause bleeding
  • cervix softening and the raw area that forms (cervical erosion or ectropion)
  • bleeding related to pelvic organ infection, or a cervical polyp - these may result in contact bleeding, for instance during sex.

Bleeding in early pregnancy is common, but it is particularly important that you let your doctor or midwife know if you experience it. They may suggest you see them for an early pregnancy assessment check.

Your doctor or midwife will try to establish the cause of your bleeding by:
  • testing your blood or urine to check the pregnancy hormone level
  • examining your cervix to check that it is closed and not eroded
  • performing an ultrasound scan to check baby's well-being

Unfortunately, early pregnancy bleeding can be a sign of a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy and/or, more rarely, a molar pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy can cause bleeding and pain, however, it is an usual pregnancy complication. You should discuss these problems with your doctor or midwife.

Although it is sometimes difficult to work out why minor bleeding happens, there is a good chance that all is well and your baby is fine if the bleeding is light and settles down in a day or two.

When to consult your doctor or midwife?
  • if you experience bleeding while pregnant
  • if you feel upper right abdominal pain or contractions
  • if you suspect your baby stopped moving

Elsbeth's Doctors offers private specialist family care with multilingual GPs, paediatricians and gynaecologists. Our private gynaecologists and obstetricians provide a wide range of services, including check-ups, pregnancy care and fertility services. For an appointment please contact us on 030 0303 5009 or at For more information visit