Stories of women who did not know that they were pregnant until giving birth, are all over the internet and have become sensational, even sparking a national television series. For many couples who are trying to conceive this leads to the hope that it could happen to them too. The question about whether or not one can be pregnant and still experience a period is examined in more detail here so that those trying to conceive are not misled and given false hope.

What Biology Says

According to a resident obstetrician at Baby Centre, the definitive answer is a resounding ‘no’. Once a woman’s body begins producing the hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), which is commonly known as the ‘pregnancy hormone’, her periods will cease.

What Looks Like a Period Could Be Something Else

Many women mistake a period for breakthrough bleeding, which is a common occurrence during early pregnancy and normally happens at about the same time a woman’s normal period would have been due. Even though there isn’t a con census amongst experts about why this breakthrough bleeding occurs, it is generally attributed to the hormones, which control a woman’s menstrual cycle, which begin to flood through her body once pregnancy begins.

Bleeding could also occur once the fertilized egg settles into the lining of a woman’s uterus, typically between 6 and 12 days after ovulation and fertilization, – this is called implantation bleeding. As a result, most medical practitioners simply refer to this as another form of ‘breakthrough bleeding’.

The American Pregnancy Association explains that although pregnant women can experience light infrequent bleeding while pregnant, the bleeding shouldn’t resemble their normal period. Some women do mistake this bleeding as a period as it often occurs around the same time that her regular period would take place.

This irregular bleeding, or spotting, that happens during pregnancy is usually either a dark brown or a light pink color. The amount of blood should not fill tampons or pads over a few days. However, if this is the case, then it is safe to assume that it is a regular period after all.

Conception While on Birth Control

Every woman, especially those with no desire to get pregnant, will have heard at least one ‘horror’ story of birth control pills failing to prevent pregnancy. The most common causes of this are not taking the pill regularly (that’s why doctors recommend a daily routine) and antibiotics interfering with the pill (one should ALWAYS use additional protection when on antibiotics). Studies have proven that women who do get pregnant while taking the pill have more chance of experiencing intermittent bleeding while pregnant. This is normally why pregnancy comes as such a shock for couples involved.


Women who are concerned about bleeding while they are pregnant should always go straight to their doctor or midwife. Often, it is nothing to be concerned about but it can also be the first symptom of a miscarriage – particularly in the early phases of pregnancy. Bleeding which is associated with miscarriage is normally accompanied by painful cramps and bleeding. If anything is wrong, the doctor or midwife will be able to assist and help you determine what your next course of action should be.

Finally, women who have irregular periods should always consult their doctor before beginning to worry. Stress factors and a bad diet can greatly influence a woman’s menstrual cycle and bleeding. This should be taken into account from the outset, as it could be something as simple as miscalculation that leads to the assumption of pregnancy.

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