Can you get your period while pregnant?

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Can You Get Your Period While Pregnant?

Seeing blood in early pregnancy can feel alarming. You may worry you’re getting your normal period despite being pregnant. But is it possible to menstruate during pregnancy? What else could cause vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy? Here’s what to know.

Menstruation Stops in Pregnancy

Once an embryo implants in the uterus, rising hormone levels signal the ovaries to stop releasing eggs each month. This stops your menstrual cycle during pregnancy. Menstruation only resumes months after delivery, during the postpartum period.

So while spotting is common in the first trimester, true menstruation does not occur. Any bleeding after a positive pregnancy test requires medical evaluation, even if light.

What is Considered a Period?

To understand why pregnancy and menstruation are mutually exclusive, let’s first define what constitutes a real period. Menstruation results from the complex hormonal dance between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, ovaries, and uterus.

Characteristic features of true menstruation:

  • Triggered by falling estrogen and progesterone levels
  • Shedding the uterine lining that grew over the cycle
  • Lasting average 3-7 days
  • Consistent flow, often starting heavier
  • Passing noticeable clots and uterine tissue
  • Usually recurring every ~28 days before menopause

Cyclical bleeding exhibiting these classic features does not happen during pregnancy. But some spotting or bleeding episodes can seem period-like.

Causes of Bleeding in Early Pregnancy

Here are some common reasons you might see bleeding in the first trimester, along with key distinguishing factors:

  • Implantation Bleeding – Light spotting when the embryo implants into the uterine lining around 6-12 days after conception. Lasts only 1-2 days with no clots or cramps.
  • Irritated Cervix – More common in pregnancy. Sex, exams, ultrasounds etc. can cause light spotting.
  • Ectopic Pregnancy – Heavy, crampy bleeding with shoulder pain may indicate a pregnancy developing outside the uterus. Medical emergency requiring prompt care.
  • Miscarriage – Heavier flow with clots and strong cramping could signal pregnancy loss. Call your doctor right away.
  • Subchorionic Bleeding – Blood accumulates near the placenta. Usually resolves on its own but requires monitoring.
  • Infected Placenta – Bleeding and fever could mean a placental infection needing antibiotic treatment.

Any amount of bleeding while pregnant justifies contacting your OB-GYN or midwife, even if light or brief. Report any clots, cramping, or non-pink colored discharge as well. Only your provider can diagnose the cause and ensure your health and pregnancy are safe.

Healthy Pregnancies Can Still Have Spotting

Up to 1 in 3 pregnancies experience some first trimester vaginal spotting – a few drops of blood when wiping. This common complaint is rarely serious when light, temporary, and unaccompanied by pain or clots.

Causes like implantation, irritated cervix, or sensitive tissues are typically harmless to pregnancy. But even with healthy spotting, call your doctor so they can rule out problematic origins.

Will a Pregnancy Test Still Be Positive?

Yes, home pregnancy tests and blood HCG tests will remain positive during any type of vaginal bleeding since you are still pregnant. The flow cannot wash away enough hCG to change these test results.

A negative home pregnancy test alongside bleeding likely signals your real menstrual period arriving. But take tests whenever bleeding strikes during pregnancy for reassurance.

The Takeaway

True menstruation stops once pregnancy begins. Regular monthly periods do not occur simultaneously with pregnancy as hormones shift dramatically. Any bleeding warrants prompt medical evaluation. Speak to your doctor right away if you have bleeding episodes during pregnancy so they can examine, diagnose, and monitor you. With proper care, many pregnancies with light bleeding continue safely.

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