Is it natural to bleed or see your period while pregnant?
Is it normal to bleed during pregnancy? And, if you do, does that mean you have your period? This article answers that question and tells you what vaginal bleeding during pregnancy may signify.
- It is possible to have some form of vaginal bleeding (usually light bleeding) during pregnancy. For instance, implantation bleeding is a natural bleeding that can occur during early pregnancy. But it is not possible to have your period during pregnancy.
- Infections, implantation, ectopic pregnancy, or miscarriage are some causes of vaginal bleeding during your first trimester.
- More serious medical conditions like placenta previa, miscarriage, or placenta accreta can cause vaginal bleeding during your second or third trimester.
- Always contact your doctor every time you experience vaginal bleeding, and include details like the color and texture of the bleeding. This is the best practice for yourself and your baby’s wellbeing.
Vaginal bleeding can occur during pregnancy, and it involves the discharge of blood from the vagina. This bleeding can happen anytime, from early pregnancy until childbirth. Vaginal bleeding does not always signify something serious. But sometimes, it can be an indicator of underlying medical conditions.
Is it possible to be pregnant and have your period?
Many people panic when they spot blood on their underwear during pregnancy, and they assume they are seeing their period. It is impossible to have your period while pregnant. However, it is possible that you are having a form of vaginal bleeding while pregnant.
While having vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is not always harmful, you should always contact your doctor if you observe this change.
Differences between vaginal bleeding and spotting
If you’ve noticed blood on your underwear, it can either be spotting or vaginal bleeding. Spotting is a light droplet of blood on your underwear. It is so light that it won’t cover your panty-liner or soak your underwear.
Spotting is a common symptom that complicates early pregnancy, among other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and pelvic pain. While spotting is common, it is important to always inform your doctor each time you notice it.
With vaginal bleeding, you experience a heavier flow of blood, which can soak your underwear and cause you to use a panty liner or pad. You should notify your medical provider immediately if you notice vaginal bleeding, as it is important for your safety and that of your baby.
Causes of vaginal bleeding in the first trimester
Several things can cause or contribute to vaginal bleeding during your first trimester, including:
According to a 2017 research article, infection is one of the causes of vaginal bleeding in pregnancy. The infection present may be a vaginal infection like a yeast infection, a urinary tract infection (UTI), or a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Implantation bleeding is a common sign of conception. It happens when the fertilized egg (embryo) plants itself on the walls of the uterus. This kind of bleeding is usually a good sign for people who have been trying to get pregnant.
During pregnancy, your cervix undergoes several changes, like taking up a higher position and feeling softer than usual as compared to its regular firm feeling. These changes may cause bleeding, especially after sex.
Miscarriage is a condition where the growing fetus in the uterus dies. This usually occurs between the 10th and 12th weeks of pregnancy, which is still the first trimester. Heavy vaginal bleeding that may or may not be accompanied by cramps is a symptom of early pregnancy loss, which happens during the first trimester.
Ectopic pregnancy is a medical condition where the embryo develops outside the cavity of the uterus. The fallopian tube is a common site for ectopic pregnancy. Vaginal bleeding is a symptom of ectopic pregnancy, and this bleeding occurs when the decidual lining is removed from the uterus.
Subchronic hematoma is the collection of blood between the chorion membrane and the wall of the uterus. The chorionic membrane is the membrane that separates the amniotic sac from the walls of the uterus. A 2022 research article shows that vaginal bleeding is common among women diagnosed with subchronic hematoma.
Molar pregnancy is a condition where the egg and sperm fuse incorrectly to create a noncancerous tumor in the uterus. With time, this tumor grows into numerous air-filled sacs similar to clusters of grapes. According to a recent research article, vaginal bleeding is a common symptom in 90% of molar pregnancies.
Causes of vaginal Bleeding in the second and Third Trimester
Vaginal bleeding in your second and third trimesters is also possible, and like the first trimester, several reasons can cause vaginal bleeding at this stage.
With the cervix being soft and tender during pregnancy, it be infected, causing it to become inflamed, sore and swollen. Cervical insufficiency can also be a cause of vaginal bleeding, and it happens when your cervix opens or weakens soon before the appropriate birth period (37 weeks). Cervical insufficiency, also known as incompetent cervix, can cause premature birth and even miscarriage, leading to vaginal bleeding.
Placenta previa is a condition during pregnancy where the placenta lies low to block all or part of the cervix. This blocks the pathway for vaginal birth. A recent research study shows that painless vaginal bleeding is usually present for doctors to diagnose placenta previa in the second or third trimester.
Placenta accreta is a condition where the placenta attaches itself too deeply to the wall of the uterus. Normally, the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus during childbirth, but with placenta accreta, the placenta is still attached. Massive obstetric hemorrhage (excessive bleeding related to pregnancy, which is usually vaginal) is present among women with placenta accreta and this condition is life-threatening.
Placenta abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the uterine walls before childbirth. According to a 2022 review, placenta abruption is a serious medical condition that can cause vaginal bleeding and endanger the health of the mother and child.
Uterine rupture is a condition where the uterine tears open usually as a result of attempting a vaginal delivery after a previous cesarean section (c-section). Uterine rupture mostly occurs during labor; however, it can occur during pregnancy, but this is rare. This condition is always labeled as a medical emergency as it can result in a lot of blood loss.
A bloody show refers to vaginal bleeding that occurs as a person's body prepares for labor. This is a common sign of a close delivery and is not always harmful. A bloody show is usually accompanied by cramps or painful contractions and fluid discharge from the vagina as well.
Miscarriage during labor or late pregnancy (past 20 weeks) is also called a stillbirth. There are several causes of late miscarriage, and vaginal bleeding, along with fever and abdominal cramping, are typically present symptoms in this situation.
Can you have a heavy period while pregnant?
It is impossible to have your period (light or heavy) while pregnant. However, heavy bleeding caused by several reasons aside from periods is a possibility when you are pregnant.
Can you bleed every month while pregnant? Is it normal?
It is possible to bleed every month during pregnancy; however, none of this bleeding will be due to your menstrual cycle. You should keep your doctor updated each time you experience any form of bleeding.
Also, keep note of how frequent the bleedings are, the color of each one, how heavy or light it is, and any other unusual symptoms that come with it so that you can give your doctor full details of your symptoms.
What vaginal bleeding during pregnancy may look like
Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy will differ for every woman, and this depends on the cause of this bleeding. The blood present on your underwear may be pink, brown, dark red, or light red. You will need to inform your doctor about this kind of observation.
The consistency or texture of the blood may also differ. It could be thick, watery, or contain some hints of clots or tissues. Your bleeding may be light with a few drops (spotting) or heavy.
When to seek medical attention
Many people experience vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. While this can be concerning and worrisome, try not to panic.
Vaginal bleeding can be an indication of an underlying health issue that may be a medical emergency and will need immediate medical attention, or it may not be a serious issue. But as a rule of thumb, all bleeding during pregnancy should be reported to a medical expert, especially when you notice the following symptoms:
- Heavy bleeding with or without pain
- Bleeding with tissues or clots present
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Fainting or dizziness
- Fever or chills
- Cramping or contractions
- Severe nausea
Vaginal bleeding can occur in your first, second, or third trimester, and a harmless and common condition like implantation or cervical changes can be the cause, or more serious medical issues like placenta accreta or uterine rupture can lead to this bleeding.
Whatever the cause of vaginal bleeding is, it's always best to speak with a medical professional for the proper diagnosis and to get directions on the appropriate next step to take after the diagnosis.