Why do you get periods in the first place?
Menstruation or periods is a phenomenon that occurs in every female with a properly functioning reproductive system and is a necessary condition in order to get pregnant. Every month, the ovary releases an egg that plants itself in the uterus and waits for fertilisation to occur.
Meanwhile, the uterine wall thickens to accommodate the growth of a fetus. But, when fertilisation does not occur, the egg, along with the uterine wall, is shed. This comes out in the form of bleeding from the vagina every month and is termed as menstruation or periods.
Is it possible to have a period and still be pregnant?
Contrary to some narrations out there, the concept of periods is totally opposite to that of pregnancy. Ovulations needs to take place in order for menstruation to happen, which does not when one is pregnant.
However, some form of mild bleeding is possible while a person is pregnant due to a variety of reasons. But, it is never due to a period. Many women fail to bleed even when they are breastfeeding, even though they may or may not be ovulating.
So, in short, it is not possible to menstruate when you are pregnant. And, if one does notice bleeding, it is due to some other reason.
What are the probable causes of bleeding in the first trimester?
There are various reasons why a person may experience vaginal bleeding in their first month or even their first trimester.
- Implantation bleeding - At the earliest pregnancy stage, when the egg gets fertilized and implanted into the uterus, a person may experience light bleeding or spotting around the time of their expected period, which is completely normal and is not a cause for any concern.
- Cervical changes - The cervix becomes more sensitive during pregnancy, so any changes like sex or a pelvic exam can lead to mild bleeding that ceases shortly. Again, this is usually not a cause for concern.
- Molar pregnancy - Sometimes, very rarely (about 0.1% of the time), the placenta fails to develop normally. This is known as molar pregnancy when a non-cancerous tumour occurs in the uterus turning the placenta into a mass of fluid-filled sacs or cysts. You may experience bright red or dark brown bleeding in this case that can contain small clots of tissues.
- Infections - There are several infections ranging from sexually transmitted ones to normal bacterial infections which can be dangerous and cause bleeding.
- Ectopic pregnancy - Normally, the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterus, causing a normal pregnancy. But, in ectopic pregnancy, the egg implants itself outside the uterus anywhere to the fallopian tube, abdominal cavity or even the cervix. This can cause a variety of symptoms including light to heavy bleeding or spotting.
- Sub chorionic hemorrhage - Even though it may sound scary, in most cases, sub chronic hemorrhage isn’t concerning and is the most common cause of bleeding during the first trimester. The condition happens as the placenta removes itself from its original position, affecting the chorionic membranes. A separate sac is formed between the placenta and the uterus.
- Gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) - The trophoblast is what aids the embryo to implant itself to the uterine wall. In GTD, abnormal changes in these cells cause tumors to form and causes bleeding in the first trimester.
- Early miscarriage - During the first trimester, sometimes, a spontaneous abortion occurs, resulting in the loss of the fetus, which is termed as a miscarriage. This is usually characterized by heavy spotting or bleeding and makes you lose the baby.
Should you consult a doctor?
Even though light spotting is normal during early pregnancy, check to see if it is accompanied by other symptoms like cramps, dizziness or heavy bleeding that is enough to make a pad wet. Always consult a doctor in these cases as it is completely impossible to have a period when you are pregnant. So, it must be due to some other reason.