Period during pregnancy
Is it possible to have periods during pregnancy? Does period during pregnancy mean miscarriage? Why some women have “period” during pregnancy?
Any woman, who discovers “period” during pregnancy or what seem to be period, could be puzzled and naturally worried. First question would be “What is going on?!?”
Unfortunately it is possible to have bleeding during pregnancy, especially during first trimester of pregnancy. One in 10 pregnant women can experience vaginal bleeding and/or bloody discharge. It could be shocking especially for first pregnancies and it is important to know if it is normal or not, what to do, how to decide whether you should ignore or call to your doctor immediately.
During first few weeks of pregnancy, particularly around the same time that a period would have occurred, some women experience light bleeding or spotting and sometimes pretty strange heavy feeling. This probably means that your hormone levels, which are changing all the time, haven’t yet reached the level where they prevent blood loss from the parts of your uterus not covered by the placenta.
During early pregnancy (usually during first trimester of pregnancy) many women could experience so called “decidual bleeding” which cannot be considered as a period.
Period during pregnancy
It is important to highlight that it is not possible to have normal periods during pregnancy because normal (not short! not light!) period means you are not pregnant. In general periods can occur when the egg is not fertilized and uterus walls’ lining break down and come out from vagina. The reason why a woman menstruates in the usual course is that the hormones that drop to signal the body that there has been no fertilization of an egg – no pregnancy and the uterus therefore sheds the lining which results in a period. During pregnancy there is usually no such drop in the hormonal levels; which instead continue to rise and therefore result in the absence of periods.
The body perceives that all available resources are required to nourish the fetus and that they cannot be expended any other way so the pregnant woman generally stops getting her period; in other words the uterine lining that is shed every month by way of periods is not shed; instead it is used to provide a hospitable environment for the developing fetus.
As it was mentioned above, some women could have “decidual bleeding” which happens when the usual rise and fall of hormone levels is somehow disturbed and part of the uterine lining is caused to be shed periodically even when there is a pregnancy subsisting – it happens in the early part of the pregnancy, before the placenta has been fully established. Decidual bleeding is more common during the early part of pregnancy, however many women do continue to get “period-like” discharge throughout their pregnancy – usually once a month on expected period dates.
Should you be worried about decidual bleeding? – in general NO – this is usually not something that has to be worried about generally.
Besides decidual bleeding pregnant women could have another type of “period” in early stages of pregnancy – it called “implantation bleeding” which happens when the fertilized egg implants itself into the uterine lining and the placenta begins to form. Some women bleed during this time, and it is usually no matter of concern.
Important to know
- In general normal period (not short! not light!) during normal pregnancy is not possible. If somebody told you about period during pregnancy, just listen politely and think about decidual bleeding, implantation bleeding or other threatening bleeding which could happen during pregnancy.
- Occasionally the cause of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy could be vaginal infection – check all possibilities.
- Getting pregnant (rare!) whilst on birth control pills can also cause bleeds in early pregnancy that can seem to mimic light periods.
- Vaginal bleeding or bloody discharge after intercourse could be a symptom of polyp in your cervix – inform your doctor.
- If you lose more than just a very few drops of bright red blood during pregnancy – contact your doctor and discuss all possibilities.
- If the vaginal bleeding is intensive, profuse or heavy especially if it is bright red – go to bed immediately, relax and invite your doctor to visit you at home. The biggest risk could be that the blood is coming from a low-lying placenta or that the placenta is parting from the uterus lining.
- If you are pregnant and have brown spotting or brown discharge or brown bleeding in combination with abdominal pain – immediately go for emergency support as soon as possible because it could be ectopic or tubal pregnancy.
- If you have moderate to severe abdominal pain or backache in combination with uterine bleeding – be very careful because it could be miscarriage – contact your doctor immediately.
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