Spotting During the First Trimester: Is It Serious?

August 20, 2019
Spotting during the first trimester is one of the most common symptoms that occurs during pregnancy. Today, we'll take a closer look at this common occurrence. 

Spotting during the first trimester is one of the most common symptoms that pregnant women experience. What’s more, it’s also one of their greatest causes of concern. The changes that occur in a woman’s body during gestation are numerous and can affect different symptoms, starting at the moment of implantation. 

Knowing the most common signs and symptoms can help reduce the fear and worry that many women feel.

The first signs of pregnancy

However, there are other signs that can also appear during the first weeks of pregnancy. For example:

  • Menstrual-type cramps. These symptoms appear due to hormonal changes and changes in the morphology of the uterus. It’s important that they be tolerable and not severe.
  • Sensitive or painful breasts. Pregnancy is an inflammatory process which increases our sensory perception.
  • Vomiting and nausea during pregnancy. It appears that the main cause of nausea and vomiting has to do with an increase in progesterone levels during the first trimester.
  • Tiredness. All of the changes that a pregnant woman’s body experiences during the first trimester produces physical weariness.
Spotting During the First Trimester: Is It Serious?

Specialists recommend consulting with a gynecologist or doula as soon as possible if you discover you’re pregnant or think you might be.

An expert will help you understand the common signs and symptoms that arise during the first trimester. That way, you can identify any situations that may require medical attention or observation.

Why does spotting occur during the first trimester?

It’s important to clarify that spotting during the first trimester, whether brownish or reddish in color, isn’t considered cause for alarm.

This spotting is the result of changes that a woman’s vascular system undergoes and coagulation during the first weeks of pregnancy. These factors increase a woman’s chances of experiencing a small amount of vaginal spotting.

This doesn’t mean that spotting occurs in all women or in all pregnancies. Spotting during the first trimester is a sign that may appear in relationship to changes in the uterus. But it’s not a necessary symptom during pregnancy. In other words, the absence of spotting isn’t a cause for alarm.

After having a transvaginal ultrasound, it’s common for women to experience a small amount of bleeding. This may occur on the same day of the ultrasound, and the spotting is usually reddish in color. However, it’s also possible for spotting to occur a few days after your ultrasound, in which case the bleeding is usually more brownish in color.

It’s also very common for a small amount of spotting to occur during the first trimester after having sexual intercourse. Once again, there’s no need for alarm, nor do you need to stop having sex unless your gynecologist recommends it.

What are the causes for alarm?

Below is a list of certain situations that do require urgent medical attention:

  • Menstrual-type bleeding. Here we refer to bleeding that is more than just mere spotting. In the case of more abundant bleeding – similar to that of your period – you should seek immediate care.
  • Intense abdominal pain. Intense and continuous abdominal pain is a sign that you should see a gynecologist immediately.
  • Fever over 100 ºF. During the first weeks of pregnancy, it’s important to evaluate any infections to find their source.

In the case of any of these symptoms, you should seek urgent medical attention. These signs may have to do with other situations that don’t affect your pregnancy. Therefore, it’s always best to see a doctor before coming to any negative conclusions.

Spotting During the First Trimester: Is It Serious?

What to do if you experience spotting during the first trimester of pregnancy

There’s no need to practice any specific conduct. Since spotting isn’t a cause for alarm, there’s no need to seek medical attention or modify your behavior.

Recommendations associated with bedrest usually have to do with the presence of a hematoma. Hematomas can be detected by ultrasound and usually appear with menstrual-type bleeding.

Many women feel guilty when they experience any type of spotting during the first trimester. As a result, they may try to limit the activity they believe to have been the cause of the episode.

However, it’s important to point out that there is no type of physical activity that increases your risks of spotting. Only extreme situations like violent bumps or intense exercise that you’ve never done before can produce changes in your body that put you at risk.

  • Deutchman, M., Tubay, A. T., & Turok, D. K. (2009, June 1). First trimester bleeding. American Family Physician, Vol. 79, pp. 985–992. American Academy of Family Physicians.
  • Norwitz, E. R., & Park, J. S. (2019). Overview of the etiology and evaluation of vaginal bleeding in pregnant women. UpToDate, 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1177/10883576060210010401