Period During Pregnancy

Though you can't get your menstrual period during pregnancy, there can be other reasons for a vaginal bleeding. Learn more on why you cannot get your period during pregnancy.

Last Updated: Oct 22, 2020 11:29 GMT

Period During Pregnancy
Period During Pregnancy
Why women can’t menstruate while being pregnant?

It is important to learn the biology behind the menstrual cycle to understand why you cannot have your period when you are pregnant. A woman during her fertile years gets prepared for pregnancy every month.

Soon after the last period, the inner wall of the uterus, called endometrium, begins to become thick with a dense network of blood vessels. When the woman becomes pregnant, this uterus lining is what later develops into placenta which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the baby. Once the egg is fertilized by a sperm, the body is signaled to keep the uterine lining intact which further strengthens and grows to make the womb. Until the baby is delivered, the lining of the uterus will not get ruptured, in a normal pregnancy.

When there is no pregnancy during the cycle, the tissues and blood vessels that were formed in preparation for pregnancy get sloughed off from the uterine wall, the discharge of which through the vagina is the menstrual blood during your period. 

When you become pregnant, your next period can come only after you deliver the baby. Hence, menstruation and pregnancy being mutually exclusive physiological phenomena, you cannot get your period when you are pregnant. 

Vaginal Bleeding During Pregnancy

However, if your question, “Can you have a period and still be pregnant?” is about vaginal bleeding which you assumed as menstrual bleeding, here are some facts you must know:

Around 10-15% of pregnant woman can have vaginal bleeding during early pregnancy under some circumstances. The common causes are:

Implantation Bleeding
Although there are no clear studies to prove this fact, it is believed that during the time of implantation of the embryo into the placental wall inside the uterus, tiny traces of vaginal bleeding may occur in some women. Called the implantation bleeding or ‘spotting’, it usually happens around the time when the next period is expected. Implantation bleeding has a characteristic light brownish discharge, lighter than a menstrual period and is usually very scanty like a drop or two and doesn’t last for more than a day. It is accepted as a normal pregnancy trait and is not a matter of concern. As a matter of fact, spotting is considered one of the very early signs of pregnancy. 
Ectopic Pregnancy
In 1% of pregnancies, vaginal bleeding can be due to ectopic pregnancy. When the fertilized embryo implants in places other than the uterus - most often in the fallopian tube, it is called ectopic pregnancy. It is accompanied by abdominal pain and the flow of bleeding can be heavier or equal to a normal menstrual flow. Since it occurs around the time of expected period date, it can be mistaken for a normal period. If untreated immediately, it can be life-threatening. 
Miscarriage
Miscarriages can also result in vaginal bleeding. In 10-15% of pregnancies, miscarriages can happen in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy through the chances in the first 12 weeks are higher. Miscarriages can also result in vaginal bleeding. In 10-15% of pregnancies, miscarriages can happen in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy though the chances in the first 12 weeks are higher.
References
Reed BG, Carr BR. The Normal Menstrual Cycle and the Control of Ovulation. 2018 Aug 5. In: De Groot LJ, Chrousos G, Dungan K, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-
E.W. Harville, A.J. Wilcox, D.D. Baird, C.R. Weinberg; Vaginal bleeding in very early pregnancy. Human Reproduction. Volume 18, Issue 9, 1 September 2003, Pages 1944–1947.
Vardhan, S., Bhattacharyya, T., Kochar, S., & Sodhi, B. (2007). Bleeding in Early Pregnancy. Medical Journal, Armed Forces India. 63(1), 64–66. 

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