Can you get your period while pregnant?

woman sitting on toilet with red underwear around her ankles
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You can't have your menstrual period while pregnant, although some women do have vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. Some even report intermittent bleeding that seems like a regular period to them. But vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is not the same thing as menstruation.

Learn why spotting might be normal during pregnancy, plus why it's important to let your provider know if you have any bleeding or spotting while pregnant.

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Why you can't have your period while pregnant

Menstruation only happens when you're not pregnant. Each month, your uterus grows a thick blood-rich lining in preparation for an egg to embed there. If you don't get pregnant that month, you shed this tissue and blood, and this is your menstrual period.

But once an egg embeds in the uterine lining, hormones tell the blood-rich tissue to stay intact to support the growing baby. And you won't shed it and start having your period again until your pregnancy is over.

Is spotting normal during pregnancy?

Non-period bleeding occurs during pregnancy for various reasons. It's important to know the difference between spotting and bleeding. Spotting is a few drops of blood every now and then on your underwear, but not enough to cover a panty liner. Bleeding, on the other hand, is a heavier blood flow for which you'll need a liner or pad to prevent the blood from soaking your clothes.

Some spotting in early pregnancy is normal, and happens in 15 to 25 percent of pregnancies. The cervix may bleed more easily in pregnancy because more blood vessels are developing there. Spotting may happen in the 10 to 14 days after conception when the fertilized egg implants in the lining of the uterus. This is known as "implantation bleeding."

Other reasons for spotting during pregnancy include:

  • Having sex
  • Hormone changes
  • Having a Pap smear or vaginal exam
  • Vaginitis or a sexually transmitted infection

Always call your provider if you experience bleeding or spotting during pregnancy. It could be a sign of something more serious, such as an infection, placenta problems, impending miscarriage, or an ectopic pregnancy, which can be life-threatening. (See our article on vaginal bleeding in pregnancy for a complete rundown of possible causes.)

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How long will spotting last during pregnancy?

Unlike your menstrual period, spotting during pregnancy only lasts about 1 to 2 days. If this spotting is implantation bleeding, it likely occurs a few days sooner than your next expected period. It will be much lighter and not require you to change a pad. Implantation bleeding doesn't require treatment and stops on its own. Even if you just think you're having implantation bleeding, be sure to call your healthcare provider to let them know.

What to do if you're bleeding or spotting during pregnancy

Call your doctor or midwife immediately at the sign of bleeding or spotting during pregnancy – even if the bleeding has stopped. Many women who bleed a little during pregnancy go on to deliver without complications, but you may need an evaluation to rule out any serious problems. Look out for other symptoms as well:

Go to the nearest emergency room if your doctor's office is closed and you can't reach your provider. If they determine your bleeding isn't serious, potential treatments may include things like relaxing and avoiding sex, travel, and rigorous exercise. It's important that you follow your provider's recommendations, to keep both yourself and your baby healthy.

Follow your baby's amazing development

BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

ACOG. 2021. Bleeding during pregnancy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

Mayo Clinic. 2022. Bleeding during pregnancy. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

MedlinePlus. 2020. Vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

Cleveland Clinic. 2021. Bleeding during pregnancy. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

MemorialCare. Undated. What color is implantation bleeding? Experts explain. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

Maggie Getz

Maggie Getz is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, wellness, and motherhood. She lives in Colorado with her husband and young son and daughter. She enjoys hiking, yoga, baking (and eating said baked goods), as well as connecting with other moms.