18 May 2008

Can my girlfriend still be pregnant even if she got her period?

Hi Rimma. Thanks for replying to my earlier question. My girlfriend got her periods several days later, on the 15th (which was late). Her periods have lasted for only 3 days, and she had a very heavy flow with cramping. I wanted to know her chances of being pregnant, even if she has had her period?

Rimma Orenman

Hello Ron,

Thank you for your follow-up question.

From what you describe, I would say that it is very unlikely that your girlfriend would be pregnant. I base this on your saying in your previous question that your girlfriend has not had any vaginal intercourse and has now had a 3-day crampy vaginal bleed that is in some ways different from her regular periods.

However, sometimes “implantation bleed” happens. It occurs when the embryo attaches itself to the uterine lining. This is a normal stage in the formation of the placenta through which the fetus will receive its nourishment. Regular periods are usually heavier than implantation bleeds. So it does not sound as if your girlfriend had an implantation bleed. If you have any doubts, I would suggest consulting a physician or buying a home pregnancy test if these are available where you live.

In the first trimester of pregnancy (that is their first 12 weeks of pregnancy), cramping and period-like bleeds over several days can also happen. Some people may also see the “products of conception” or thick, membranous tissue with blood clots passing from the vagina. This usually indicates that a spontaneous abortion has occured. If someone thinks that this is what is happening, she should see a doctor or other appropriately trained health professional who can confirm or deny the loss of pregnancy. The doctor will also decide whether further tests (often blood tests) are necessary to see if the person has had an “incomplete abortion” (an abortion where some embryonic tissue still remains in the uterus) as this may be dangerous.

If, in the first trimester of pregnancy, someone has severe crampy abdominal pain and heavy bleeding that does not stop, they need to see a doctor immediately, as they may have an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy in the fallopian tube, which is the tube that leads from the ovary to the uterus). These pregnancies are dangerous because they cause rupture of the fallopian tube and severe bleeding which may require surgery and/or blood transfusions.

If my understanding is correct and your girlfriend has not had unprotected vaginal intercourse, and she in now well (no pain, no bleeding), I would think the most likely scenario is that she had one period that was different from her others. If she continues to have severe bleeding and crampy abdominal pain during her subsequent periods and her periods come at irregular intervals, she should consult a doctor who will be able to rule out anything serious and who could address such issues as, for example, pain medication and medication to regularize her periods.

If, on the other hand, your girlfriend has had unprotected vaginal intercourse, I would suggest seeing a doctor (if this is possible financially) –especially if she is currently unwell. A home pregnancy test is the other option but will not help to exclude, for example, an incomplete abortion or any sexually transmitted infections.

I hope this answer has been helpful, especially since I understand this is a stressful situation. Please let us know if you have any other questions,

Rimma, for AlterHeroes