Can You Be Pregnant and Still Have a Period?

It's physically impossible to have a period while pregnant, but there are some other reasons for vaginal bleeding during the first, second, and third trimesters.

Can you get your period while pregnant? The short answer is no. "Pregnant people can certainly have vaginal bleeding during a pregnancy, but when they bleed, they are not having a 'period,'" explains Michele Hakakha, M.D., a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist based in Los Angeles and co-author of Expecting 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Pregnancy.

Keep reading to learn why menstruation stops during pregnancy and other possible causes of vaginal bleeding and spotting during the first, second, or third trimester.

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Why You Can't Have a Period While Pregnant

It is possible to have spotting during pregnancy, but any bleeding you may have while you're pregnant is not actually a period. A true period happens when the uterine lining sheds at the end of a menstrual cycle. When an egg goes unfertilized, levels of the hormones that control the egg's release drop and cause your uterine lining, which has thickened in the first half of your cycle as it awaited a fertilized egg, to slough off and shed in what we refer to as a period.

If you're pregnant, an egg has been fertilized and implanted in the wall of the uterus. Pregnancy hormones tell your body to maintain the uterine lining, and since it's not shedding, you no longer have a period. A missed period is why one of the earliest signs of pregnancy (though you may have light implantation bleeding for a few days).

Other Reasons for Bleeding in Pregnancy

Although you can't be pregnant and have your period, bleeding while expecting—especially in the first trimester—is not uncommon. According to Dr. Hakakha, people can bleed during pregnancy for various reasons. Here are a few common ones.

Implantation bleeding

"Many people experience something called 'implantation bleeding,'" says Dr. Hakakha. "This can occur at the time the fertilized egg, known as the embryo, reaches the uterus and nestles itself into the lining of the uterus."

Implantation bleeding tends to present as light pinkish or brownish spotting, occurring 10 to 14 days after conception. The bleeding may look like the start of your period but remains light and does not progressively get heavier.

After penetrative vaginal sex

There's also the possibility of bleeding after sexual intercourse or any vaginal penetration, says Melissa Esposito, M.D., a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist at Shady Grove Fertility Center in the Washington, D.C., area. The cervix is more sensitive during pregnancy, increasing the chances that stimulation—such as contact with a penis, sex toy, or finger—might lead to light bleeding. For this reason, you may also experience some bleeding after a pelvic exam.


Most pregnancy losses occur during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. A miscarriage (or a threatened miscarriage) usually presents as bleeding associated with uterine cramping. There may also be a passage of large blood clots from the vagina. If you have these symptoms, alert a health care provider right away.

Ectopic pregnancy

Bleeding in the first trimester can also be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy (when the fetus starts to grow outside of the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube). The amount of bleeding with an ectopic pregnancy may vary. It's also associated with unilateral pain, dizziness, or lightheadedness, says Dr. Esposito. Ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening if untreated, so seek medical attention if you have bleeding with any symptoms such as dizziness or sudden pain.

Pregnancy complications

According to Dr. Hakakha, other reasons you might see bleeding during the first trimester include a subchorionic hemorrhage (a blood clot that forms behind the developing placenta), a cervical infection, placenta previa (when the placenta implants and grows over the cervix), or benign cervical polyps. Not all of these are dangerous, but in general, anytime you have bleeding during pregnancy, you'll want to call your prenatal health care provider.

During the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, bleeding can also result from vasa previa (where the blood vessels of the placenta are in an abnormal location and cross over the cervix), a placental abruption (where the placenta begins to pull away from the wall of the uterus prematurely), or even labor, says Dr. Hakakha.

The Bottom Line

Although bleeding in pregnancy is common, it's crucial to always get it assessed because some causes of bleeding during pregnancy could be dangerous, explains Dr. Esposito. If someone is pregnant and bleeding, with or without pain, they should call a health care provider for further instruction.

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