Periods and Pregnancy? What’s normal and what’s not?
Hello to our JH Community!
You have been asking a lot about pregnancy and periods (and the other way around), so we thought we would answer the question and bring you all the facts. There are several reasons why bleeding could happen during pregnancy. Some of them may surprise you!
Can you get your period and be pregnant?
Some women experience bleeding while pregnant. This is definitely most troubling and raises many questions: am I pregnant despite my period? Does bleeding always rule out pregnancy? First of all, let’s distinguish between regular menstruation and other types of bleeding. If you are indeed experiencing regular bleeding in the menstrual cycle, then there can be no chance of pregnancy at the same time. The purpose of menstruation is precisely to expel the unfertilized egg at the same time as the wall of the uterus. Therefore, anyone who thinks they are pregnant despite having a period is mistaken. However, there is also bleeding which can be a sign of pregnancy. The different types of bleeding are often distinguished from menstrual bleeding by the duration and color of the discharge.
What about implantation bleeding?
What is the difference between periods and bleeding during pregnancy? It is also called implantation bleeding in early pregnancy and, as the name suggests, occurs when the fertilized egg implants into the wall of the uterus. This is harmless and usually happens around the 4th week of pregnancy. When the fertilized egg implants in the endometrium, this will cause a small vascular tear of the mucosa, which can produce spotting. The color is a much lighter red than menstrual bleeding. As this can coincide with the absence of periods, the duration can also be used as another distinguishing element, since it is shorter than a normal period. It may be accompanied by discomfort in the lower abdomen, called implantation pain. This would be when you would confirm pregnancy with a test.
What other symptoms indicate pregnancy despite periods?
If you think you might be pregnant, there are, of course, other symptoms. Signs of pregnancy that show up very quickly are nausea and sore breasts. However, because these symptoms can also indicate that your period is approaching, it’s always best to take a pregnancy test. If you happen to know that there was a significant spike in your body temperature, then fertilization of the egg may have occurred. If your body temperature has dropped, you can assume that a new cycle is starting. When the temperature remains permanently high, this can be a sign of pregnancy. In this case, the corpus luteum does not regress, it remains intact and continues to produce progesterone. A regular cycle begins not only with a drop in temperature, but also with menstruation.
The absence of periods is usually a reliable sign that fertilization has taken place. Small episodes of bleeding may occur early in pregnancy. However, more frequent and heavy bleeding is rarer. Their causes can vary. Any pregnant woman who experiences heavy bleeding needs to urgently seek medical attention to determine its cause.
Tracking your menstrual cycle can provide important information about the pregnancy. If you have ever tracked and monitored your menstrual cycle, you probably know a lot about your body and your cycle. This has helped many women to get pregnant, as a tracker can determine the best time to have unprotected sex (and make a baby!) This will help you to not miss the ovulation window. Bleeding in early pregnancy can also be due to the body’s drastic change in hormones. This will occur at the beginning of pregnancy, which will cause many women to confuse it with a period.
The same applies if you are using hormonal contraception, as this often reduces the duration and intensity of the periods. However, hormone-induced early pregnancy bleeding is much weaker than normal menstrual bleeding. The intensity ranges anywhere from just a few drops to regular spotting. Spotting is known to happen to women who take the birth control pill, when taken incorrectly (missed pills, doubling up, if vomiting has occurred, etc.) or forgetting to take it altogether.
Problematic bleeding and pelvic pain. If you have heavy, painful bleeding with a brownish and smelly discharge, the cause may not be regular menstrual pain and you need to see a gynecologist, who can check to see if everything is fine and rule out a miscarriage. The same goes for severe, one-sided pelvic pain. In this case, the doc needs to check for an ectopic pregnancy.
Pregnant despite periods…could it be?
The answer is: YES, you may be pregnant and have a period..., but not if it's your usual period. In fact, it is not a period, just may look and feel like one. By now, you will be able to tell between the different types of bleeding. Red days may occur more often, especially in early pregnancy. Spotting can also occur from time to time during pregnancy.
Whether you are currently pregnant, trying to conceive, or afraid that you have an unwanted pregnancy, tracking will always be the best way to get to know your body well, so that you can react when it doesn’t do what it usually does. So many women wait too long and ignore important signs their bodies are sending them, like missing many periods, or bleeding too much and often. We welcome all your questions on Quora each day, but sometimes, you just know that an online platform is not enough and you need to see a doctor. Please, do not ignore signs. When it don’t feel right…it probably isn’t 🤔
Be safe, be well, Justine 😊
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