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Threatened Abortion

Threatened abortion is a diagnosis made during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy when bleeding and cramping could suggest an increased risk of miscarriage.


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Fetus in First Trimester

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Bleeding During Pregnancy

Early-pregnancy bleeding can originate from the uterus, cervix, vagina or the external genital area. Often the cause of bleeding requires no treatment.

Possible causes of bleeding include:

  • Implantation of the embryo
  • Infection
  • Irritation (e.g., after intercourse)
  • Miscarriage
  • Ectopic pregnancy (the baby develops outside of the uterus)
  • Molar pregnancy (rare growth inside the uterus)

Threatened Abortion Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the risk of threatened abortion include:

  • Infection
  • Trauma
  • Certain medicines
  • Advanced maternal age
Your health provider will determine your risk and situation through:
  • Ultrasound
  • Fetal heart monitoring
  • Blood tests

How We Treat Bleeding

Bed Rest

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, a female hormone that supports 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.

Have a Healthy Pregnancy

While there is no clear way to prevent threatened abortion, you can take these steps to have a healthy pregnancy:

  • Get regular prenatal care
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs
  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Control any long-term conditions that you may have (eg, diabetes, thyroid disorder)
  • Talk to your doctor before taking any medicine
  • Avoid contact with toxins


Call 434.243.3675.


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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