It's possible to have what appears to be a period, even if you're pregnant. It's also possible to have a negative home pregnancy test and still be pregnant. If you think you might be pregnant, even though you're having vaginal bleeding and you have a negative pregnancy test, talk to your medical provider. While you might be experiencing implantation spotting or be testing too early, you might also have a pregnancy complication such as an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. If you have a lot of bleeding or notice other symptoms like dizziness or severe abdominal pain, seek immediate medical attention.
As many as 25 percent of women have some bleeding in early pregnancy, according to an article published in June of 2009 in "American Family Physician." Some women experience bleeding -- often called implantation bleeding -- around the time of their first missed period, even though they're pregnant. Implantation bleeding occurs when the embryo burrows into the uterine lining. This may seem like a period, but the bleeding is generally less and lasts for a shorter time than your normal period. If you do a home pregnancy test at this time, it might read as negative even though you're pregnant.
Testing Too Early
Home pregnancy tests measure the level of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine. Usually, hCG levels rise rapidly in the first 2 months of pregnancy. Tests vary widely in their ability to detect an early pregnancy. While hCG levels greater than 6.3 mIU/mL can indicate that you're pregnant as early as the time of your first missed period, many tests don't read as positive until urine hCG levels increase to 25 to 100 mIU/mL or higher. Despite claims of accuracy on the packaging, over-the-counter tests can often fail to detect hCG early in pregnancy.
Bleeding in Early Pregnancy
At least 15 percent of pregnancies end in a miscarriage, according to an article published in July of 2011 in "American Family Physician." If you had a positive pregnancy test but now have a negative test and vaginal bleeding, you may be having an early miscarriage. Talk to your doctor if you suspect a miscarriage. Often no specific treatment is needed, but if you are experiencing a large amount of bleeding or feel dizzy or faint, obtain immediate medical care.
As many as 2 percent of pregnancies implant outside the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. This is called an "ectopic" pregnancy. In an ectopic pregnancy, your hCG levels might not rise as quickly as they would in a pregnancy that implants in the uterus. In this case, you might have a negative home pregnancy test because the hCG levels are too low to detect. Bleeding will also occur as the ectopic pregnancy progresses and the embryo grows too large for the fallopian tube. Eventually, the tube can rupture, producing severe abdominal pain and other symptoms such as dizziness, weakness, or vomiting. Seek immediate medical attention if you think you may have an ectopic pregnancy.
- Maternity Nursing; Dietra Leonard Lowdermilk, et al. 2014
- American Family Physician: First Trimester Bleeding
- Human Reproduction: Vaginal Bleeding in Very Early Pregnancy
- Obstetrics and Gynecology; Charles Beckmann, Grank Ling; 2009
- American Family Physician: Office Management of Early Pregnancy Loss