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Is Spotting a Sign of Pregnancy?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions by expecting women. Know that while spotting is a sign of early pregnancy, it may also be caused courtesy of a range of other factors.
HerHaleness Staff
Last Updated: Mar 6, 2018
Spotting or light vaginal bleeding is often considered a sign of early pregnancy. Most of the time, this faint, pink-tinged mucus; rust-brown, or bright-red spotting is hard to detect. However, you ought to know, that spotting is a sign of pregnancy. Spotting, especially in the initial two weeks is caused by the implantation; i.e., the fertilized egg is attached to the lining of the uterus. This may cause slight bleeding, usually for a day, or two. However, spotting is not just a direct result of pregnancy, it can be caused due to several other factors.
Know the Difference ...
Between Spotting and Bleeding
Women, especially where pregnancy is concerned are perturbed no end if they notice spotting. The anxiety escalates if it's the first trimester, moreover, if it is their very first pregnancy. It is natural for women to become a bundle of nerves; however, most confuse spotting with bleeding and hit the panic button at the first instance. It is when you notice a few drops of blood on your underpants in an irregular pattern, know that it is spotting. Bleeding, on the other hand, is marked by a heavy blood flow, which requires you to wear a sanitary napkin, and change it every few hours. Though spotting is deemed normal during early stages of pregnancy, consulting your doctor on the said issue, is a sure remedy to put your nerves at rest.
Major Causes
❒ Menstrual Spotting
Spotting just before, or after your periods is fairly common. In fact, three to four days of spotting post your menstrual cycle is a regular occurrence. This is caused by the changes in the hormones post your periods. In addition to these causes -- ten to fourteen days before your periods -- spotting may occur because of ovulation and the rise of the estrogen levels that leads to the uterus shedding its lining.
❒ Birth Control Spotting
Also referred to as 'breakthrough bleeding', this type of spotting occurs when a woman consumes a new contraceptive only to discontinue with the previous one. Caused due to hormonal changes, this form of spotting may continue for the first few months of pushing the pill.
❒ Implantation Bleeding
Spotting during early pregnancy, usually six to twelve days after the conception is known as implantation spotting. Know that it is accompanied with light abdominal cramping.
❒ Miscarriage
Heavy spotting and bleeding may be caused by a miscarriage, especially in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. This vaginal spotting that may escalate to bleeding is often accompanied with low abdominal cramps and tissue passing through the vagina.
❒ Vanishing Twin Syndrome
Also known as fetal resorption, a vanishing twin syndrome is when a multiple-gestation pregnancy ends in the uterus, leaving only one embryo behind. The fetal tissue is absorbed by the surviving embryo, or the placenta, giving rise to the concept being regarded as the 'vanishing twin'.
❒ Molar Pregnancy
This is when the development of the embryo is affected, also being characterized by certain cells of the placenta growing abnormally. This is a rare case that causes spotting, subsequently leading to bleeding; nevertheless, this form of pregnancy must be terminated without much delay.
❒ Ectopic Pregnancy
When the egg implants somewhere outside the uterus, especially in the Fallopian tube it is referred to as an ectopic pregnancy. In this case, it is essential to terminate the pregnancy immediately to avoid any damage to the tube. Most ectopic pregnancies are accompanied with a sharp cramping pain in the abdominal region, bleeding, and low hCG. It, however, is not as common as a miscarriage. It, usually places women who have had an infection in the tubes, a pelvic surgery, or a previous ectopic pregnancy at a higher risk.
Other Causes
In addition to these causes, having an internal examination, a pap smear, or sexual intercourse during the initial days of pregnancy may cause slight vaginal spotting. This is because of the irritation caused to the cervix. If the spotting occurs in the later stages of pregnancy, it may be caused by the following factors:
  • Placenta previa
  • Placental abruption
  • Preterm labor
  • Low thyroid levels
  • Certain drugs, particularly anticoagulants
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Pelvic cavity or urinary tract infection
In certain cases, spotting during pregnancy is related to serious diseases, like uterine and cervical cancer, or cervical polyps. If the spotting escalates, it is advisable to consult a doctor to diagnose the condition.
Disclaimer: The article published herein, is meant to accomplish pedagogical purposes only. The recommendations mentioned hereby may not be generically applicable. The information, by no means, intends to supplant the diagnosis and advice imparted by the medical practitioner.