Decidual Bleeding – Symptoms of Early Pregnancy or Normal Period?

The term ‘decidual bleeding’ refers to limited shedding of the lining of the uterus during the initial few months of pregnancy. Such bleeding may appear similar to normal periods and can sometimes mislead women into believing that they are not pregnant, until the other signs of pregnancy occur.

Mothers may find the thought of shedding of a part of the uterus lining to be very discomforting. It may however be noted that decidual bleeding typically does not cause any harm to either the mother or the fetus.

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Decidual bleeding is particularly common during the initial stages of pregnancy, before the uterine lining has fully hooked onto the placenta. Brown discharge, bleeding episodes, and/or spotting are especially prevalent during the 1st trimester of pregnancy. During this time, nearly 20 to 30 percent of pregnant women may experience uterine or vaginal bleeding.Instances of decidual bleeding or any other type of bleeding decreases substantially during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. On the other hand, spotting is not that uncommon and can occur during this time of pregnancy as well.

Decidual bleeding is generally not serious; however, it is important for women to inform their health care provider about any kind of bleeding during pregnancy as it can also be an indication of some other severe underlying conditions.

 The process

Rapid hormonal changes at the time of early pregnancy can cause the uterine lining to thicken, i.e., ovulation, despite the occurrence of a fertilized egg. During the timeframe of a month when a woman normally experiences menstrual periods, the uterine lining tends to shed and causes bleeding.

In some pregnant women, the quantity of blood removed during decidual bleeding can be the same as a regular period. Experts have therefore recommended women to take a pregnancy test even if they think that their periods are normal, especially if they experience the other usual signs of pregnancy like increased breast tenderness or size, frequent nausea, or sudden gain in weight.It may be noted that pregnancy tests work by measuring increases in particular hormones present in the body.In case the pregnancy test gives a positive result despite the occurrence of bleeding, then it is best to visit a doctor to confirm the pregnancy.

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At the time of pregnancy, the complete body along with the reproductive glands and the hormones, etc. work towards supporting the unborn baby’s growth. After conception, the menstrual periods stop and the hormones adjust to provide a healthy uterine surrounding for the growth of the baby.Instead of dropping off as is the case during menstrual cycles, there is continuous and substantial increase in the hormones so as to enhance the health of the uterus. If during pregnancy the hormones dropped, then the uterine lining gets compromised and the fetus will not have a safe environment to grow and thrive. This is biologically illogical and hence it can be concluded that bleeding or spotting during pregnancy is something other than regular menstrual cycles.

Decidual bleedingvs. Implantation bleeding

Sometimes, decidual bleeding is mistaken for implantation bleeding which is another early sign of pregnancy. It may be noted that implantation bleeding consists of light spotting which occurs due to implantation of the egg in the uterus. Decidual bleeding quite like implantation bleeding, can lead women to believe that their menstruation is normal and therefore, they are not pregnant.

Due to this similarity, as well as because both forms of pregnancy bleeding are largely regarded as being harmless, both decidual bleeding and implantation bleeding are often together known as first-trimester bleeding.

Decidual bleeding: What should affected women do?

In most instances, decidual bleeding is not harmful to the unborn baby or the mother. It may be noted that varied surveys and studies have indicated that decidual bleeding and other such associated minor vaginal bleeding occurs in nearly 30 percent of pregnancies. Another point to note is the fact that a majority of pregnant women with decidual bleeding instances tend to have healthy pregnancies and childbirths.

Decidual bleeding may be a harmless occurrence. However, medical experts all over the world recommend that women who experience any kind of bleeding when pregnant must immediately inform their doctors about it. This is because bleeding can be a symptomof many different conditions and health complications, including imminent miscarriage, cervical cancer, molar or ectopic pregnancies, or vaginal or cervical infections.

If the bleeding is heavy or if it continues for more than a day, then doctors will usually carry out different tests to verify the health of both the fetus and the mother. This will assist them in eliminating the presence of every kind of health complication.

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