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Thursday, December 5, 2013
Women can be pregnant and have monthly periods. The periods are usually lighter than normal and usually only occur in the first months of pregnancy. This can make it difficult to tell when you became pregnant. Your healthcare provider can perform an ultrasound early in your pregnancy to estimate your due date.
It is very uncommon to ovulate during pregnancy. The hormonal changes that occur with pregnancy suppress ovulation. This may be the reason why pregnancy seems to be protective against ovarian cancer. With less ovulation, there are fewer cellular changes in the ovary and therefore less of a chance for cancer to develop. There have been several isolated reports of women getting "pregnant again" approximately 2-3 weeks into a pregnancy. This is extremely rare.
The classic symptoms of pregnancy are a missed period, breast tenderness and feeling tired. They can occur with many other conditions as well. Take a home pregnancy test from a drug store on the first day of a missed period. Home pregnancy tests test for pregnancy hormone (hCG) in the urine and are quite accurate.
Vaginal bleeding or spotting and abdominal pain could indicate an ectopic pregnancy. In an ectopic (or tubal) pregnancy, the pregnancy does not develop in the uterus as it should. By growing outside the uterus, the pregnancy can cause dangerous bleeding inside the abdomen and damage to the fallopian tube. An ectopic pregnancy also usually has the signs that are similar to those of any pregnancy: missed period, feeling tired and breast tenderness. Patients who are at increased risk for an ectopic pregnancy are those who have had an ectopic pregnancy in the past, a tubal ligation, a history of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or major abdominal surgery. These patients should be particularly careful but most ectopic pregnancies occur in patients without any risk factors.
Measuring hCG levels in early pregnancy is usually used to help distinguish an ectopic pregnancy from a uterine pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy cannot be converted into a regular, uterine pregnancy. There are urban legends of physicians who have taken a pregnancy from the tube, implanted it into the uterus and allowed the pregnancy to continue. There is no scientific data to support this.
Last Reviewed: May 28, 2002
Arthur T Ollendorff, MD
Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati