A missed period is often a primary indicator of pregnancy for many women. This means once a woman conceives, her menstrual period stops immediately. The absence of a period, symptoms of pregnancy, and a positive blood test confirm you're pregnant. Despite this, some women continue to experience vaginal bleeding throughout their pregnancies.

So, can you get your period while pregnant?

The short answer: no.

Bleeding In Early Pregnancy: The Causes

Implantation Bleeding

Vaginal bleeding and spotting and cramping during pregnancy is fairly common among women, occurring in 20 percent of pregnancies, according to Dr. Iffath Hoskins, a clinical associate professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center. The bleeding usually lasts one to two months.

Dr. Donnica Moore, a woman's health expert and advocate, and President of Sapphire Women's Health Group, suggests many women will get what seems like a "regular period," but a little late and a little lighter, during their first cycle after conceiving. This occurs during one to two weeks after conception, and is known as "implantation bleeding."

"It indicates that the fertilized egg  has implanted in the endometrium (the lining of the uterus or womb)" Moore told Medical Daily.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Heavy bleeding during the first trimester could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. This is when an embryo implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube, and cannot survive. This type of pregnancy affects up to 1 in 40 pregnancies, causing 9 percent of deaths.

“About half of them will lose the pregnancy” Hoskins told Medical Daily of women who experience heavy bleeding during the first trimester.

Ectopic pregnancies requires immediate medical attention, and are usually treated with a surgery or medication that terminates the pregnancy.

Late Pregnancy

One out of 10 women will have vaginal bleeding during their third trimester, and it could be a sign of a more serious problem. Bleeding in the last few months of pregnancy should always be reported to a healthcare provider as soon as possible. First, you need to understand the difference between spotting and bleeding: Spotting occurs when a few drops of blood appear on your underwear every now and then, but it isn’t enough to cover a panty liner. Bleeding is a heavier flow of blood where you will need a liner or a pad to prevent the blood from soaking your clothes.

Kristin Burris, a fertility, women’s health, and anti-aging expert at Eagle Acupuncture in Eagle, Ind., suggests heavy bleeding during the late stages of pregnancy could be attributed to the placenta.

“The placenta, which provides life-sustaining nourishment to the baby, can cover the cervix,” Burris told Medical Daily.

This is known as “placenta previa.” More dangerous, placenta abruption can occur, which is when the placenta begins to detach from the womb, resulting in bleeding from these vessels. According to Burris, this can cause menstrual-like bleeding.

PMS-Like Symptoms During Pregnancy

Some women will report PMS symptoms and bleeding during their pregnancy. The truth is these symptoms can appear to be very similar to those of early pregnancy. “These symptoms can include bloating, tender breasts and headache,” said Hoskins.

She added: “They occur during pregnancy due to increased levels of pregnancy hormone progesterone.”

For example, during PMS, breast swelling and tenderness will occur during the second half of your menstrual cycle. During the childbearing years, women can experience mild to severe tenderness, with the most severe right before your period, improving right after or during your period as progesterone levels decrease. However, in pregnancy, the swelling usually happens one to two weeks after conception, lasting for a while as progesterone levels rise due to your pregnancy.

A good rule of thumb: “PMS symptoms generally resolve with the onset of a period. To differentiate between PMS and pregnancy: take a pregnancy test!” said Moore.

It’s important to remember these differences are subtle and vary from woman to woman.

Is It Menstruation Or Pregnancy? How To Tell The Difference

The easiest way to differentiate between period and pregnancy-related bleeding is to take a pregnancy test. If it comes out negative, this means you have irregular menstrual bleeding, and if it’s positive, you should see a midwife or OBGYN to rule out ectopic pregnancy, deficiency in progesterone, or the possibility of a miscarriage, advises Burris.

The best home pregnancy tests can reliably detect pregnancy as of the day of the expected period. Moore recommends women to wait until their period is at least 3 days late before testing.