Menstruation & Pregnancy?
One would think that "menstruation during pregnancy" might be an oxymoron. The commonly held belief is that once a woman conceives, her menstrual period stops immediately. The primary clue that a woman might be pregnant is when she misses a period so it follows then that if she has a period, she must not be pregnant. Right?
What, Exactly, Is Normal?
Well, as with all things surrounding pregnancy, nothing is carved in stone. True enough, when a woman misses a period and has other signs that she may be pregnant, a blood test confirms it, and menstruation ends for a while. However, in spite of this fact, some women do continue to have menstrual bleeding throughout their pregnancies. Most frequently, if there is bleeding during pregnancy it happens at the very outset of the pregnancy, and then it stops. In addition, spotting during pregnancy can be mistaken for an unusual menstrual cycle.
Can You Have A Regular Menstrual Cycle And Be Pregnant?
There are many reasons for spotting or bleeding during pregnancy. Some of these reasons are serious and require medical treatment, and some are not. Some women do experience a regular menstrual cycle, even though they are pregnant. This can happen as a result of conceiving close to the time of the next menstrual period and can cause major confusion in terms of due dates. The gestational age of the baby and its due date are usually calculated based on the date of the last menstrual period.
An ectopic pregnancy, in which the embryo implants somewhere outside of the uterus-most frequently in the fallopian tube-can cause bleeding similar to menstruation. Ectopic pregnancies are very serious and can be life threatening. If there is cramping and bleeding during an early pregnancy, immediate medical assistance is vital.
Some Things End Before They Really Begin
It is a startling fact that only about one quarter of pregnancies actually come to term with a live birth. Most pregnancies, especially first pregnancies, are terminated before the woman even knows she has conceived. If there is a confirmed pregnancy (a test is positive) and cramping and bleeding begins, it is possible the woman is experiencing a miscarriage. Since there could be a risk of an ectopic pregnancy, it is advisable to contact the health care provider immediately if there is concern a miscarriage may be in progress. Unfortunately, there is very little a professional can do to halt a miscarriage in the first trimester (the first 12 weeks).
Spotting or bleeding that resembles a light period is not uncommon around the time of the first period. While no one really knows what causes this, experts believe the spotting is probably caused by the implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterine lining.
The placenta, which nourishes the baby, can sometimes be problematic later in the pregnancy. Two conditions, placenta previa (the placenta covers the cervix) and placenta abruption (the placenta separates from the uterine wall); can cause menstrual-like bleeding. Should this type of bleeding occur later in pregnancy, the situation could rapidly become dangerous. Medical help is required immediately.
If a woman is pregnant and heavy bleeding occurs at any stage during the pregnancy, it is very important she contact her doctor immediately to rule out a serious complication.