Menstruation during pregnancy - How does it work?

Menstruation during pregnancy - How does it work?

Menstruation is a clear sign that you are not pregnant. However, sometimes there is minor bleeding when you're pregnant and it's common to get a little worried - but that doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong. It's easy to think that this bleeding during pregnancy is your period, but it's not the same thing.  

Minor bleeding or blood-mixed discharge is common during pregnancy. If you experience major bleeding, you should always see a professional. Here we go through information about bleeding during pregnancy and what it can mean. If you are worried, you should always contact your health care provider, such as your midwife.  

Can I have my period when I am pregnant?  

When a woman becomes pregnant, ovulation and menstruation stop. Therefore, the short answer is no, you cannot have your period during pregnancy. However, minor bleeding early in pregnancy or in the first half of pregnancy is common, and it is easy to think that it is your period. The first half of your pregnancy is considered the first 20 weeks. 

Bleeding during pregnancy can be caused by:  

Implantation bleeding 

It is not uncommon to have a minor bleed during pregnancy, and it does not necessarily mean that something is wrong. Getting a bleeding can even be an early sign that you're pregnant. It's called implantation bleeding and can occur when a fertilised egg attaches to the womb. Implantation bleeding is a minor bleeding, much like spotting, and lasts for about 2-3 days before disappearing on its own, and it usually happens in weeks 2-3 of pregnancy. Implantation bleeding does not affect pregnancy. There doesn't have to be any bleeding when the egg attaches to the uterus - so don't worry if there is no blood. 

Breakthrough bleeding  

In breakthrough bleeding, there is a minor bleeding around the time you usually have your period. It occurs up to week 16 of pregnancy and is common, so it's nothing to worry about. 

Bleeding from the uterine lining  

During pregnancy, the body undergoes major changes. When the body has not had time to adjust to pregnancy, blood may come from the uterus. This is not dangerous and does not mean that anything is wrong. Bleeding from the uterine lining can last for the first three months of pregnancy. As the placenta and foetus grow and begin to take up more space in the uterus, this bleeding usually stops. 

Polyp on the cervix  

Cervical polyps, or uterine polyps, are common and can be seen by a gynaecologist during an examination. It can occur in women over 40 who are menstruating. Cervical polyps can cause minor bleeding, both for women who are pregnant and women who are not pregnant. In 99% of cases, cervical polyps are benign and not dangerous. If you are worried, contact your midwife or a health centre. 

Ectopic pregnancy 

An ectopic pregnancy is a fertilised egg that has attached outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. A pregnancy test therefore shows positive, but it will not develop into a child. With an ectopic pregnancy, there is a minor bleeding which can be mistaken for menstruation. Ectopic pregnancy is rare and occurs in 1-2% of all pregnancies. There is a lot of pain in the abdomen, usually in the lower part, and there is a small amount of blood. If you suspect that you have ectopic pregnancy, you should contact your health care provider. 

Bleeding during pregnancy - miscarriage  

A major bleeding early in pregnancy can be a miscarriage. A miscarriage usually occurs before week 12, and very rarely later in pregnancy. If you have a miscarriage, you may feel a lot of pain and experience major bleeding with blood clots, fluid or mucus. If you suspect a miscarriage, you should contact your health care provider to be examined.  

There are several causes of menstrual-like bleeding during pregnancy, and these were some of the most common. Remember to contact your doctor if you experience any major bleeding during pregnancy or if you are worried. 

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