Generally, missing your period is the first big sign that you’re pregnant. If you’re trying to conceive, then you might be following your periods to find out if you’ve gotten pregnant. And yet, sometime you do hear of women who claim to have gotten their period during pregnancy. How does that even work? Let’s run through the basics of the phenomenon, plus what you should know about bleeding during pregnancy. We’ll answer that age-old headscratcher: can you get your period during pregnancy?
What is a period?
Let’s start off by clarifying what we mean when we say a “period.” This usually refers to the normal bleeding at the start of a menstrual cycle. Each month the body released an egg at ovulation, the endometrium lining of the uterus thickens in order to support a possible pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilized and doesn’t implant into the endometrium during the fertile timeframe, then you won’t get pregnant, and the endometrium breaks away and bleeds out.
Can you be pregnant and still get your period?
In a word, no. If you have a normal menstrual period, it’s a sign that the endometrium has broken off and come away, so the chances of you being pregnant are zero. If you experience menstrual-like bleeding during pregnancy, then this is irregular bleeding, and it needs to be checked out.
Possible causes of bleeding during pregnancy
Bleeding during pregnancy isn’t a period. However, bleeding can sometimes occur during pregnancy. There may be a number of causes, and a little blood spotting during early pregnancy is especially common. Bleeding can be innocuous, but be careful about writing off anything – it can also be linked to more serious issues like miscarriage, so it’s important to find out the cause.
When the fertilized attaches itself to the endometrium, it may cause some slight bleeding. The amount of bleeding (if any) varies from person to person, but it is generally not as heavy as a menstrual period, and tends to stop after 2 to 3 days. Unlike the bright red blood of menstrual flow, implantation bleeding (or spotting) often tends to be pink to brownish red in appearance.
Increased estrogen levels in early pregnancy can cause the vaginal portion of the cervix to become swollen, so that can cause bleeding. This tends to be seen more for women in their 20s and 30s, but it’s not at all rare. Bleeding from cervical erosion isn’t harmful for the pregnancy, so try not to be too alarmed.
This condition occurs when the fertilized egg implants into the womb, but instead of developing into a healthy pregnancy, the tissue that would normally become the placenta becomes an abnormal cyst that takes up space in the uterus. This may be accompanied by abdominal pain and irregular bleeding with brownish discharge. It’s not possible for this to result in a healthy pregnancy, so this condition needs immediate medical attention.
Ectopic pregnancy occurs when an egg is fertilized, by instead of implanting into the uterus as in a healthy pregnancy, it latches on elsewhere – usually in the fallopian tubes. Left untreated, this can be dangerous – resulting in severe abdominal pain and heavy bleeding. Unfortunately, it’s not possible for ectopic pregnancies to continue, and this condition requires immediate medical attention.
This condition causes slightly less bleeding than you would see in a menstrual period. As the fertilized egg implants into the uterine lining, blood can sometimes pool between the endometrium and the chorion (the membrane surrounding the developing embryo). If the blood clot isn’t too large, it should be able to be absorbed without much of an issue. However, if it’s too large, then it’s associated with a risk of miscarriage. This means bleeding during early pregnancy is something you really need to keep an eye out for.
There’s no such thing as a pregnancy period
If you’re not sure whether what you’re having is a period or irregular bleeding, don’t try to figure it out yourself. Irregular bleeding isn’t a period, and it’s still possible to be pregnant and see some blood. If you know that you’re pregnant, any blood you see should generally be less than you’d see with a period – anything that would make you think it might be a period warrants a trip to the doctor. Bleeding during pregnancy might not be down to anything serious. However, if you’re at all concerned about bleeding or spotting, see your doctor or OB-GYN right away to work out what’s going on.