Can You Still Have Your Period and Be Pregnant?
Pregnancy brings about a multitude of changes to your body. One reason you take a pregnancy test in the first place is because you missed a period. Yet, sometimes women who are pregnant experience bleeding early in a pregnancy and this bleeding can sometimes be mistaken for a period. Confusing, isn’t it? In fact, between one and three and one in four women experience light bleeding or spotting. This raises the question – can you still have your period and be pregnant?
Pregnancy, Periods, and Bleeding
Even if you bleed during pregnancy, it’s not truly a menstrual period. The type of bleeding you experience when you’re pregnant is usually irregular and not enough to soak a pad. It typically varies in color from pink to deep brown. To make the matter more confusing, some women also experience mild abdominal cramping early in pregnancy. So, it’s not surprising that many women confuse bleeding during pregnancy for a period. The reality is that between one and three and one in four women experience some degree of bleeding or spotting when they’re pregnant.
What causes bleeding during pregnancy? The first thing most women think when they see spotting is an impending miscarriage. Although bleeding CAN be a side of threatened miscarriage, there are other less sinister causes. One of the most common causes of bleeding during early pregnancy is implantation bleeding. When the fertilized egg implants in the uterus, it can cause light bleeding or spotting. This typically happens about a week or two after conception.
It’s easy to be fooled into thinking it’s your period since the bleeding happens around the time of your anticipated period. It’s also possible to experience mild cramping at the time of implantation, but severe stomach cramps, back pain, or passage of tissue or large amounts of blood are not characteristic of implantation bleeding and need immediate evaluation.
Why Do Periods Stop When You’re Pregnant?
Once an egg is fertilized, it deposits in the lining of the uterus where it can receive blood and nourishment from the uterus. The growing embryo produces human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that stops ovulation from occurring. You wouldn’t want ovulation to occur or the lining of the uterus to be sloughed off because the embryo needs the nourishment to grow and develop. That’s what happens when you have a period – the lining of the uterus is sloughed off or shed because there’s no need for it in the absence of a fertilized egg.
So, with a healthy pregnancy, you can’t have a true period. Yet, you can bleed due to implantation bleeding or from other causes, including a threatened miscarriage. So, not all bleeding is innocent.
Bleeding During Pregnancy
If you bleed during pregnancy, always let your health provider know, especially if you’re having cramping, back pain, nausea, vomiting, or feel lightheaded. These can be signs of a miscarriage or another condition called an ectopic pregnancy. With an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg doesn’t deposit where it should – the uterus – but instead lodges inside a fallopian tube. This and another condition called a molar pregnancy can cause bleeding and cramping and needs immediate evaluation.
American Pregnancy Association. “Am I Pregnant: FAQs On Early Pregnancy”
Medscape. “Common Pregnancy Complaints and Questions”