Threatened abortion is a diagnosis that is made during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. While some women have vaginal bleeding in the first 3 months of pregnancy, bleeding and symptoms that could suggest an increased risk of miscarriage are called threatened abortion.
Early-pregnancy bleeding can originate from the uterus, cervix, vagina, or the external genital area.
In many cases, the cause of the bleeding is due to a minor condition that requires no treatment. If you have any vaginal bleeding during your pregnancy, especially if you also have abdominal pain, you should contact your doctor.
Possible causes of bleeding include:
Factors that may increase your risk of threatened abortion include:
The main symptom is bleeding during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Bleeding may be light or heavy. You may also have abdominal cramping.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests that may be done include:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Many cases of threatened abortion require no treatment at all. In other cases, treatment options include:
If you are bleeding heavily, your doctor may recommend bed rest. This has not shown to be beneficial, though. Your doctor may also want you to limit your activities.
Your doctor may prescribe progesterone. This is a female hormone that supports a pregnancy.
If your blood is Rh-negative and your partner's blood is Rh-positive, your doctor will give you an injection of Rho immune globulin. This will prevent your body from producing antibodies against your fetus' blood.
While there is no clear way to prevent threatened abortion, to increase your chance of a healthy pregnancy:
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Pregnancy Association
Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services
Bleeding during pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/bleeding-during-pregnancy. Updated August 2015. Accessed October 8, 2015.
Bleeding during pregnancy. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq038.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120814T1300076311. Updated August 2011. Accessed October 8, 2015.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.