From the time a girl experiences her first period, menstruation is tied directly to fertility. During puberty, women begin their periods as ovulation begins. Every month, the ovaries release an egg, and if it isn’t fertilized, the uterus sheds its lining, creating a new environment for the egg the following month. When a woman becomes pregnant, the uterus doesn’t need to shed its lining, and bleeding either does not occur at all or occurs in a different form than a regular period.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, a missed period is one of the most typical signs a woman is pregnant. The implantation of the egg, combined with rising hormone levels, stops the uterus from shedding its lining. But the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking a pregnancy test and seeking a doctor’s confirmation you are pregnant. This is because there are other causes of a missed period, such as weight gain or loss, hormone imbalance, stress, breast feeding or a change in birth control.
Some women, according to MayoClinic.com, experience spotting or bleeding along with pregnancy, often with implantation. When the fertilized egg becomes attached to the lining of the uterus, bleeding can occur. Women usually experience implantation bleeding about 10 to 14 days after fertilization. Implantation bleeding can be differentiated from a typical period by the timing and coloring of the blood flow. It is usually lighter in color and spottier than a regular period and happens earlier in the month than a regular period.
At times, women can confuse symptoms of pregnancy with what they believe to be a lighter period because light implantation bleeding can occur with cramping that feels similar to menstruation cramps. This cramping happens when your uterus begins to expand to make room for a baby. Pregnant women usually feel uterine cramping in their lower abdomens during the first trimester, and again in the third trimester as the uterus prepares for true labor contractions and childbirth.