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Can You Get Your Period and Still Be Pregnant?
Your period occurs every month or so in lieu of an egg becoming fertilized. Eggs are released once a month from the ovary. When they aren’t fertilized, the egg travels out of the uterus and sheds through the vagina.
Bleeding during a “normal” period often starts off light, then gets heavier and darker red. It also lightens in color and quantity toward the end of the cycle.
The differences between menstruation and being pregnant are supposed to be clear-cut: Once you’re pregnant, you don’t get periods anymore. But it isn’t always so obvious.
Some people claim they’ve gotten periods while pregnant. Fueling some of the inquiries in the “periods while pregnant” conspiracy are social media, blogs, and even television shows like “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant.”
Between 15 and 25 percent of people spot during early pregnancy. Some of the causes are:
- implantation bleeding
- changes in the cervix
- molar pregnancy (abnormal mass fertilizes instead of a fetus)
- ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy outside of the uterus)
- early signs of a miscarriage
Why You May Bleed During Pregnancy
First Half of Pregnancy
Spotting during this time is common, especially after sex, a pelvic exam, or a transvaginal ultrasound. In these cases, the blood might be coming from the cervix. It becomes tender during pregnancy and could be a bit inflamed or irritated. This type of bleeding can also occur prior to a miscarriage or with an ectopic pregnancy, but most often it is not a cause for concern.
Heavier bleeding during the first trimester can also be a sign of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. This bleeding doesn’t mean a miscarriage will occur, or that you have an ectopic pregnancy. About half of pregnant women who have bleeding do not miscarry. The most important thing you can do is to let you doctor know about any bleeding, so that you can evaluated for the cause.
Second Half of Pregnancy
During the late second and entire third trimester, causes of bleeding can include:
- Placenta previa. This occurs when the placenta is low in the uterus and partly or completely covers the cervix. Most women notice no pain with the bleeding. Placenta previa occurs in 1 in 200 pregnancies and requires immediate attention when there is bleeding. Placenta previa often resolves on its own, especially when it is found early during pregnancy. Other times it can lead to an early delivery by Cesarean section.
- Placental abruption. This occurs when the placenta detaches from the uterine wall before or during labor. It can cause serious complications if it is not found early. It often comes with painful contractions. Placental abruptions are rare, occurring in just 1 percent of pregnant women. Risk factors for placental abruptions include maternal smoking, drug use and high blood pressure.
- Preterm labor. Defined as labor starting prior to 37 weeks’ gestation, preterm labor might also include these signs: regular contractions, cramping, back pain and increased pelvic pressure. If you think you’re going into early labor, call your doctor right away.
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