Trying to conceive a child can be a stressful and challenging time for a couple. This time can be made more difficult by occasional vaginal spotting that the woman may experience.
There are several reasons that a woman might bleed or spot throughout her cycle. The most obvious time of the cycle for bleeding to occur is during menstruation. When a woman has a period, it means that her egg has not been fertilized and that the egg and the uterine lining are being ripped out and expelled through the vagina. This is usually accompanied by pain, fatigue, and cramping, as most women know. The bleeding feels profuse, although it is usually only one or two tablespoons. This is what allows a woman to start a new menstrual cycle in which her body prepares to build up a strong uterine lining and mature an egg in order for it to be fertilized, and ultimately prepare for pregnancy.
A woman may also bleed from her vagina after having sex. If there is no pain and not much blood, there is likely no reason for concern. The most likely reason is that the vagina or cervix has been irritated by the semen or by the intercourse itself. If this happens, the couple may want to try a different sexual position, or they may want to use some sperm-friendly vaginal lubricant, since the bleeding may be a sign of lack of moisture in the vagina. When a couple is trying to conceive, there needs to be adequate vaginal moisture in order to transport the sperm into the cervix. The ideal consistency of cervical mucus (the vaginal moisture) is like raw egg white—thin and plentiful, and fairly sticky.
The last reason for bleeding in a woman’s cycle is called implantation bleeding. This can occur in some women when the egg has been fertilized and is implanted into the uterus. What happens is that the fertilized egg forms a body of cells, called a trophoblast, around itself. This trophoblast is what connects the fertilized egg to the inside of the uterus. It “eats” through the uterine lining to attach the egg, ensuring that the egg has an adequate supply of blood and nutrients during its first days of development. The fertilized egg sheds the trophoblast since it is now able to survive on its own.
This can cause a slight amount of vaginal bleeding around 7 to 14 days after conception—around the same time as the woman’s period would usually happen, so it can be very confusing to her. The bleeding can be accompanied by some slight cramping. If there are intense cramps or profuse bleeding, that is not normal and the woman should see her doctor as soon as possible.
Once a woman is pregnant, she may have bouts of cramping or spotting throughout her pregnancy. If it is enough to soak a sanitary pad, she should go to the doctor or hospital immediately. There are several reasons that a pregnant woman might be bleeding, and some of them may indicate potential distress. A good rule of thumb is that anything that feels out of the ordinary for a pregnant woman or a woman trying to conceive is a good enough reason to go see her doctor.