There is no greater uncertainty for most women than a missed period, but what happens when you have your period and then end up with a positive pregnancy test?
You’re here seeking answers to a vital life question, and we’re here to fill you in.
Can you get a positive pregnancy test after your period? You can get a positive pregnancy test following what seems to be a period. However, this does not necessarily indicate a viable pregnancy. A positive test after an assumed period could be an indication of a pregnancy loss or complication. It could also be the result of medications or misuse of the test.
Keep reading to learn about what a positive pregnancy test after a period means, its impact on your health, and the next steps to take.
Bleeding After a Positive Pregnancy Test
Understanding the physiology of the reproductive system can lend some insight into why you may be bleeding after a positive pregnancy test.
Will You Get Your Period if You Are Pregnant?
No, you will not have a period if you are pregnant. It is easy to mistake bleeding in early pregnancy for a period, especially if your periods are on the lighter side.
While spotting is normal in early pregnancy and during implantation, you should still consult your doctor.
Why Periods Stop During Pregnancy
In the weeks prior to a period, your body has prepared an ideal environment for a baby to grow. During ovulation, the body releases the most matured egg from the ovary through the fallopian tube into the uterus.
If the egg is fertilized on this journey, it implants into the uterine lining. Since a period is the shedding of the uterine lining without a fertilized egg, you will not have a period when you are pregnant.
Bleeding vs. Spotting
While any amount of blood during pregnancy triggers worry, it’s important to understand the difference between bleeding and spotting.
Spotting is when you are expelling faint traces of vaginal blood. This usually takes on a light red, pink, or brown color and does not require you to wear a pad.
On the other hand, bleeding is when there are significant amounts of dark red blood or blood clots. This type of bleeding typically requires the use of a pad.
Regardless of how much or little you’re bleeding, you should contact your doctor right away. Bleeding in early pregnancy can be a normal occurrence, but it’s always best to be on the safe side.
What Is a False Positive Pregnancy Test?
False positive pregnancy tests are rare, but they do occur. Pregnancy tests pick up on an early pregnancy hormone called hCG.
When that hormone is present in detectable amounts, regardless of the reason, the pregnancy test will display a positive result. There are many reasons one may receive a false positive.
An evaporation line is a faint and colorless second line that shows up on pregnancy tests. They are caused by the urine evaporating from the stick.
The best way to prevent evaporation lines is to follow the directions as precisely as possible, especially when it comes to timing.
A chemical pregnancy is when a fertilized egg, otherwise known as an embryo, is unable to implant in the uterus early on.
This process of fertilization causes the body to ramp up hCG production, but with the inability to implant, the egg dissolves, and hCG levels return to normal. This can cause a false positive pregnancy test.
Miscarriage or Abortion
Upon conception, hCG levels rise in the body to prepare the uterus for the growth that’s about to occur.
These levels dramatically increase until around weeks eight to 11 when they fade out, leaving estrogen and progesterone to continue doing their jobs. It takes up to six weeks after pregnancy ends for hCG levels to return to their normal state.
So, if you’ve recently had an abortion or miscarraige, your body may still have elevated levels of hCG. This could cause a false positive.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself outside of the uterus, typically in the fallopian tube. This is a severe medical emergency since the pregnancy is non-viable and in a dangerous location.
If you believe you may have an ectopic pregnancy, please consult a doctor immediately. Despite that it is implanted in the wrong location, the egg will still trigger the production of hCG, resulting in a positive reading on a pregnancy test.
A molar pregnancy occurs when an egg is abnormally fertilized. This causes abnormal cyst growth in place of the placenta, which poses a severe risk to maternal health. There are two types of molar pregnancies: complete and partial.
In a complete molar pregnancy, the mother’s chromosome contribution is lost and only the father’s remains. In this instance, no fetal tissue develops.
In a partial molar pregnancy, the mother’s chromosome contribution remains, but the father contributes two copies.
Most often molar pregnancies occur because more than one sperm fertilizes the egg. While fetal tissue develops, the pregnancy is non-viable.
There are some medications that have been known to influence home pregnancy tests. We’ve included a list of them below. Keep in mind that these are only some of the medications that can cause a false positive.
- Synthetic hCG shots like Novarel, Profasi, Ovidrel, and Pregnyl
- Antihistamines like Promethazine
- Diuretics like Lasix and Diu Screen
- Antipsychotics like Clozapine and Chlorpromazine
- Parkinson’s medications like Parlodel
- Anti anxiety medications like Valium and Xanax
Reasons for Bleeding in Early Pregnancy
Bleeding during early pregnancy can be worrisome, but it can also be normal. Regardless of the quantity of blood, it’s best to let your doctor know right away. Whether good or bad, here are some of the most common reasons for bleeding.
1. Implantation Bleeding
Implantation bleeding occurs when the fertilized egg implants into the uterine lining. This type of bleeding is often accompanied by small menstrual-like cramps.
Bleeding due to a miscarriage can be light or heavy depending on how late in the pregnancy it occurs and will usually be accompanied by other symptoms such as severe cramping.
If it’s late into the first trimester and the placenta has begun developing, there will often be clots in the blood as these are expelled through the vagina.
3. Normal Pregnancy Spotting
A lot happens in the body as it prepares for and accepts a newly fertilized egg.
With the uterus beginning to expand, a thick uterine lining developing, a placenta forming, and a baby growing, there’s a lot that can cause you to release bits of blood into the vagina to be expelled.
This type of bleeding is usually streaky, is light in color, and does not last long.
4. Ectopic or Molar Pregnancy
Bleeding from an ectopic pregnancy is almost always accompanied by other symptoms such as abdominal and pelvic pain, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or rectal pressure.
This bleeding will typically be on the heavier side. It’s important to seek medical help if you are having any of these symptoms while pregnant.
Symptoms and bleeding resulting from a molar pregnancy are similar to that of an ectopic. However, bleeding may be paired with the vaginal passing of small grape-like cysts.
Bleeding caused by infections is usually light to moderate in flow. Other symptoms of vaginal, urinary, or sexually transmitted infections will persist as well.
This includes but is not limited to frequent and/or painful urination, inflammation of the urinary tract, inflammation of the reproductive organs, and sour odor.
6. Injury From Internal Exam or Intercourse
During pregnancy, the cervix becomes more tender, sensitive, and prone to bleeding. In addition, there is an increase in blood flow to the area as your body prepares to grow life.
The insertion of any item can disrupt a number of components and cause light to moderate bleeding. This is usually light in color and stops after a short period of time.
7. Problems With the Placenta
Complications with the placenta such as placenta previa and placental abruption can cause bleeding in later stages of pregnancy. Placenta previa is when the placenta is near or covers the cervical opening.
Placental abruption occurs when the placenta dislodges itself from the uterine wall. Placenta abruption can result in heavy dark bleeding from the vagina and requires immediate medical attention.
8. Subchorionic Hematoma
Subchorionic hematomas are when the membranes surrounding the embryo begin to bleed. This can result in light to moderate bleeding from the vagina.
Typically, subchorionic hematomas resolve on their own, but they should still be monitored by a doctor.
9. Cervical Polyps
Cervical polyps are benign growths on the cervix that can bleed in pregnancy. They are caused by elevated estrogen levels. This bleeding is typically harmless, spotty, and light in color.
When To Be Concerned About Bleeding in Early Pregnancy
Bleeding in early pregnancy can be a normal occurrence, but the causes behind it vary drastically in severity and intervention. For this reason, bleeding at any stage of pregnancy should be called to your doctor’s attention.
To prevent unnecessary stress, remember that spotting or light bleeding is usually not severe. This type of bleeding typically requires little to no intervention.
In any case, try to maintain normal blood pressure and low stress by managing your breath, speaking with your doctor about concerns, and reaching out as early as possible when bleeding is noticed.
How Often Are Pregnancy Tests Wrong?
It is possible to receive both a false negative and false positive pregnancy test. Of these two, false negatives are more common. Only 5% of pregnancy tests taken are truly incorrect and not just misread.
What Drugs Can Cause a False Positive on a Pregnancy Test?
Several types of medications such as antihistamines, antipsychotics, and antianxiety medications can cause false positives on a pregnancy test.
However, the most common false positives due to medications come from synthetic hCG shots given as fertility treatments.
It is possible to receive a positive pregnancy test following what seems like a period. This usually means that what you experienced wasn’t a period but early pregnancy bleeding.
However, it could also be the result of a defective test, user error, medication, or medical conditions. If you believe you may be pregnant, reach out to your doctor to discuss the next steps.
Charley is a mother of three with a passion for raising good humans. With her children in tow, she studies English and has made a career creating content about motherhood. In her free time, she enjoys traveling within the states to kayak, camp, and hike.