Some women do menstruate during the early part of pregnancy. Other women spot during pregnancy and mistake this with an unusual menstrual cycle.
There are many reasons for spotting and bleeding during pregnancy, some serious, some not. If you suspect you are pregnant, yet have menstrual-like bleeding, contact your care provider to rule out a serious complication.
- Regular Menstrual Cycle. Some women do experience a regular menstrual cycle, even though they are actually pregnant. This usually occurs when a women becomes pregnant close to the start of her next period. It can cause a great deal of confusion regarding due dates and gestational ages since due dates are usually calculated based on the date of the last menstrual period.
- Ectopic Pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is a very serious condition and can cause bleeding similar to a menstrual flow. This occurs when a fertilized egg implants into an organ other than the uterus, usually the fallopian tubes. Because there is not enough room for the growing embryo, organ damage or death can occur. If you have cramping combined with bleeding during early pregnancy, it is extremely important you contact your care provider.
- Miscarriage. Only twenty-five percent of pregnancies make it to a live birth. The majority of pregnancies are terminated before the woman even knows she's pregnant. If, however, you received a positive pregnancy test and start cramping and bleeding, you may be experiencing a miscarriage. Because of the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, you should contact your care provider if you think you are miscarrying. If you miscarry in the first trimester, there is little your care provider can do to stop it.
- Implantation Bleeding. Many women experience spotting or a light menstrual flow around the time they would normally have their period. No one really knows what causes this; experts believe the spotting is caused by the fertilized egg burrowing into the uterine lining.
- Placental Problems. Placental problems such as placenta previa and placenta abruption can be serious complications later in pregnancy. A symptom of these conditions is menstrual-like bleeding. Placenta previa occurs when the placenta partially or totally covers the cervix, or the place the baby needs to come out of. Placenta abruption occurs when the placenta prematurely releases from the uterine wall.