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As with most women, you probably suspected that you were pregnant because you missed a cycle. The biological understanding of pregnancy and periods is that you can have one of the two and not both at the same time. However, there is an urban myth that emphasizes on how some women do get their periods while they are pregnant. While this isn’t possible, it might be important to note that they may have mistaken other period like symptoms during pregnancy for regular menstruation. This may even be further fuelled by the occurrence of bleeding and spotting that can be common during pregnancy and may be caused due to various reasons.
Can You Get Period In Pregnancy?
The biologically backed answer to the question – do periods occur during pregnancy – is, no. It is not possible for your body to begin a menstrual cycle when you are pregnant. If you’re pregnant, it means that your eggs are fertilized and your uterus is preparing for a baby. Periods happen only in the event that your eggs remain unfertilized and your uterus does not need to prepare for a baby.
Why Can’t You Get A Period During Pregnancy?
Each month the uterus develops a thick lining of tissue and blood anticipating an egg to nestle in the uterus and develop into a baby. However, if a fertilized egg doesn’t reach the uterus, this lining of tissue and blood is shed, a process which is called menstruation. The hormone levels that rise when the egg is released from the ovaries, tend to drop further signalling that it is time for the lining to shed.
But when a fertilized egg implants itself in the uterus, the hormones in your body continue to rise and prompt your uterus to keep the lining inside the uterus intact to protect and nurture the embryo. Only once your pregnancy is through, in about nine months, will the lining shed.
Hence, it isn’t possible to get regular periods when you are pregnant.
How Is Implantation Bleeding Mistaken For Periods?
On certain occasions, it is possible that the fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus, roughly about the same time during which you are expecting to have a period. As the egg burrows into the lining of the uterus, it is possible that there is some light spotting and white vaginal discharge which is primarily caused due to the thickening of the walls of the vagina.
Many women can mistake this implantation bleeding, which is characterized by light spotting, for regular periods with less than normal bleeding. This may be considered as periods during the first month of pregnancy and you may, at times, not even realize that you are pregnant until you miss the next period.
How Is Sporadic Bleeding Mistaken For A Period?
There are many other causes that result in spotting or bleeding that can be mistaken as period like bleeding during early pregnancy.
- Breakthrough bleeding: Your body releases hormones like progesterone at the beginning of the cycle. When you are pregnant the level of these hormones increases which stops your period. However, there are times when the hormone levels aren’t sufficient and it causes breakthrough bleeding around the same time that you are meant to have a period.
- Ectopic pregnancy: When the fertilized egg is incorrectly implanted in the fallopian tube or in the neck of the uterus, it is called an ectopic pregnancy. One of the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy is heavy vaginal bleeding along with pain in the abdomen and pelvis. An ectopic pregnancy needs to be dissolved or surgically removed.
- Cervical changes: Throughout the course of the pregnancy, the cervix, which is the opening of the uterus, is closed. However, when it experiences irritation or intrusion during events like a pelvic exam, intercourse, etc., it may result in light bleeding.
- Miscarriage: Miscarriage takes place when there is a developmental issue with the baby. It is characterized by heavy bleeding and cramps.
- Bleeding after birth control: Birth control pills cause hormonal changes in the body. In case you are pregnant after having stopped the birth control pills recently, then you may see spotting or light bleeding.
- Bleeding caused by placental conditions: There are certain situations involving the placenta that may cause vaginal bleeding especially in the second and the third trimesters. Placenta praevia is a condition where the placenta is blocking the cervix partially or fully. Another condition is placental abruption where the placenta is separated from the uterine wall. These are known to cause light bleeding that seems like you are on a period when pregnant.
- Other causes: There are also other causes like, infection or molar pregnancy, where an abnormal mass gets fertilized in place of the foetus, which can cause bleeding during pregnancy.
While it is not possible to be pregnant and have your periods at the same time, there can be certain situations that may make you believe that you are on your period. Also, symptoms like, cramps, backache or irritability are common during both pregnancy and menstruation.
Minor bleeding and spotting are common during pregnancy and hardly cause any harm to you or the baby. However, if you are pregnant and are bleeding too much, it may indicate an underlying problem with the pregnancy and you will need to contact your medical practitioner immediately and seek medical help.
Most women who experience minor bleeding during pregnancy usually deliver without any complications. However, if you notice spotting and bleeding it is advised that you reach out to a doctor and have it checked to rule out any instances of a problem during pregnancy.