Most women first realize they’re pregnant when they miss a menstrual period. When the anticipated menstrual period fails to come, it sends them to the drugstore to pick up a home pregnancy test. On the other hand, some women experience bleeding even after they discover they’re pregnant. Is it possible to menstruate during pregnancy?
Menstrual Bleeding During Pregnancy: Is It Possible?
True menstrual bleeding during pregnancy isn’t possible since menstruation only occurs when the egg that’s released isn’t fertilized. On the other hand, it’s possible to have bleeding or spotting during pregnancy – which can sometimes resemble a menstrual period. This leads a woman to wrongly believe she’s menstruating. Naturally, this can be disturbing to a woman who thinks her periods should have stopped.
What Causes Spotting and Bleeding During Pregnancy: Spotting During the First Trimester
Vaginal bleeding and spotting during pregnancy is common, occurring in about one in four pregnancies. It doesn’t always indicate a serious problem, especially if it occurs during the first trimester. Sometimes a small amount of bleeding takes place when the fertilized egg first attaches to the uterus. In these cases, bleeding is usually light and occurs around the time a period would be expected, which causes a woman to believe it’s her period. Bleeding during pregnancy can also occur after sexual intercourse. Other causes include infection in the cervix or when there’s trauma to the vaginal walls.
First trimester spotting during pregnancy can also be a sign of pregnancy-related problems such as an ectopic pregnancy, where pregnancy occurs outside the uterus, a threatened miscarriage, a completed miscarriage, or a blighted ovum where the embryo doesn’t develop after it implants in the uterus. It can also be a sign of a molar pregnancy where there’s no fetal development – just abnormal tissue. For this reason, spotting during pregnancy needs medical attention – to rule out more serious problems.
Bleeding and Spotting During Pregnancy: Spotting Later in Pregnancy
Unlike bleeding and spotting that occurs in the first trimester, which may be benign, bleeding during the second or third trimester is almost always abnormal. Bleeding later in pregnancy can be due to placental separation or rupture of the uterus, a condition that occurs more frequently in women who have had multiple pregnancies. Late occurring bleeding during pregnancy always requires immediate medical evaluation.
Can You Menstruate During Pregnancy: The Bottom Line?
You can bleed during pregnancy, but it’s not an actual menstrual period. If it occurs in the first trimester, it may not be serious, but any bleeding or spotting during pregnancy should be checked out by a doctor.
E-Medicine. “Bleeding During Pregnancy”
Merck Manual. Eighteenth Edition. 2006.