Periods and pregnancy: Here’s everything you need to know

Can you have your period while pregnant? The short answer is no. Here’s what it means if you do experience some bleeding.

Periods and Pregnancy: Here’s Everything You Need To Know
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Periods and Pregnancy: Here’s Everything You Need To Know

We all know that having our periods mean we aren’t pregnant; it’s one of the reasons many women all over the world rejoice at the sight of their monthly. But have you ever wondered if it’s possible to have a period and still be pregnant?

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While some people might believe they did, it’s actually impossible to have your period while pregnant. Some pregnant people may still experience some bleeding. However, this bleeding is not related to the menstrual cycle and may be a sign of something else.

You can’t have a period while pregnant

Every month, the body goes through the menstrual cycle phases, where it generates a mature egg and thickens the endometrium in preparation for pregnancy.

If not pregnant, the progesterone levels will start to fall, prompting the body to shed the unfertilised egg and endometrium. If the person is pregnant, these hormone levels will not fall, and the endometrium will be sustained to nourish the embryo.

This gives a clear cut reason why those with child won’t be getting any visits from Aunt Flo. In fact, periods don’t often return until 4-8 weeks after childbirth.

Causes of bleeding during early pregnancy

While pregnant people won’t get their period,signs of early pregnancy may be awfully similar to your monthly. Spotting or implantation bleeding occurs when the fertilised egg latches into the uterus, causing a small amount of light pink or brown blood. Some bleeding may also occur due to cervical changes. Unless there is an infection or you don’t wish to be pregnant, spotting is nothing to be concerned about.

During the first trimester, expectant mothers may also suffer from other period-like symptoms, including aching of the lower back, irritability and fatigue.

Other causes of bleeding during the first trimester include:

  • Infection
  • Changes in the cervix
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Molar pregnancy
  • Miscarriage

Causes of bleeding during the second and third trimester

Spotting isn’t always a cause for concern in early pregnancy, but any bleeding will require medical attention once past the first trimester.

Often bleeding during this stage of pregnancy could be a sign of preterm labour or cervical dilation. Preterm labour refers to any birth that happens before the 37-week mark. Other symptoms of preterm labour include:

  • Backaches
  • Changes in vaginal discharge
  • A feeling of pressure in the vagina

Placenta previa and placenta abruption can also cause bleeding to occur. Placenta previa is when the placenta has implanted low in the uterus, covering or close to the cervix. Placenta abruption, however, is when the placenta fully detaches itself from the uterus, causing heavy bleeding and stomach pain.

Uterine ruptures can also cause bleeding in pregnant women. This is when the muscle of the uterus tears and can cause uncontrollable bleeding. This type of tear usually happens across scar lines in the uterus and is more common in those who have previously had a c-section.

Ultimately, those who are pregnant won’t have their period, but they may bleed or have period-like symptoms for other reasons. Depending on how far along the pregnancy is, bleeding could be but is not always a cause for concern. If you are pregnant and experience any ongoing bleeding or bleeding in the second or third trimester, seek the immediate help of a medical professional.

As a rule of thumb, if you are expecting your period and you bleed enough to fill one tampon, then that is a safe sign that you aren’t pregnant. If you experience spotting or are still concerned about pregnancy, seek a pregnancy test or book an appointment with your doctor.

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