While a woman can’t have an actual period while pregnant, there are common causes of bleeding during pregnancy. It is typically light bleeding, though it can be mistaken for a normal period, especially during early pregnancy.
Some women do claim to have periods while they are pregnant. But according to experts, the bleeding results from a secondary cause. A menstrual cycle occurs when a woman’s body sheds her uterine lining, which does not happen during pregnancy.
For this reason, it’s essential to know the myths and facts about pregnancy and what bleeding throughout each trimester may indicate. There can be serious implications.
Implantation bleeding is often one of the first signs of pregnancy, though not all women know to look for it or recognize it when it occurs. It happens when a fertilized egg implants, or attaches, to the uterine lining. This can be anywhere from a few days to two weeks after conception.
Due to the timing, many women think it’s their period. Studies state that the average woman learns she is pregnant somewhere between five and six weeks of gestation or a few weeks after a missed period. Since implantation bleeding occurs around the same time a woman’s period arrives, many associate it as a light period and do not get a pregnancy test until later.
This is normal, and no woman should feel bad if they don’t recognize implantation bleeding for what it is. If you are trying to conceive and do experience light bleeding around that time of the month, don’t be discouraged. You can still take a pregnancy test.
Bleeding Throughout Pregnancy
According to the American Pregnancy Association, nearly 1 in 5 women experience light bleeding, particularly throughout the first trimester. It is typically spotting and can be alarming. Especially if it is your first pregnancy. However, there are several common causes of light bleeding that are no cause for concern.
Common causes of bleeding during pregnancy include cervical polyps, which are not harmful or dangerous and are typically the result of rising estrogen levels. You may also experience light bleeding after exercise, sexual intercourse, or an exam with your OB/GYN.
When to Contact Your OB/GYN
You must have a gynecologist you are comfortable with so that you can call them to discuss changes in your body at any time. Whether you have light spotting early in pregnancy, or heavier bleeding at a later time, let them know as soon as possible. Your doctor will tell you whether you need to come in for a check-up.
Bleeding in the Second or Third Trimester
Bleeding typically subsides after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, so if you are further along, contact your healthcare provider right away. Light spotting may be no cause for concern. However, there are situations you must be aware of.
Heavy Bleeding During Pregnancy
If you experience heavy bleeding at any point throughout your pregnancy, call your OB/GYN. Heavy bleeding, or bleeding that is substantial enough to fill a panty liner, is abnormal. You should schedule an exam as soon as possible.
Heavy bleeding before your 20th week of pregnancy may signal a miscarriage. If you are past the 20-week mark, it might be a condition known as placenta previa. Placenta previa occurs when the placenta covers the cervix. If you experience this condition you may enter pre-term labor, require a C-section, or be put on bed rest. You may also require hospitalization for the remainder of your pregnancy so doctors can closely monitor the health of you and your baby.
If you do not have your period for several months, but do not believe you are pregnant, you should also contact your OB/GYN. This could be a sign of ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when a fertilized egg attaches to the fallopian tube instead of the uterine wall. Ectopic pregnancies are a medical emergency, as the condition can cause your fallopian tube to rupture. It can lead to heavy bleeding, pain, and can be fatal without immediate treatment.
Questions about Pregnancy
If you are pregnant or trying to conceive and have questions or topics you would like to see us cover, let us know.