Think You Have a BFP After Period? Think Again!
On average, there are only about six days during each menstrual cycle where it is possible to get pregnant. This is known as the fertile window, and it includes the five days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation. Based on how cycles work, this means that it is not possible to have a period after you have conceived and got that BFP.
However, it is possible to experience light bleeding and spotting after conception during the implantation process. So how do you know if this bleeding is caused by an early period or a potential pregnancy? It’s all so confusing!
In this article, we hope to clear a few things up for you by explaining the differences between your period and implantation bleeding, the common symptoms associated with each, and when you should consider taking a pregnancy test.
What is a BFP?
The acronym “BFP” stands for “Big Fat Positive”. It is used among the online fertility community to describe a positive pregnancy test result.
To learn more about other fertility abbreviations, check out our article 116 Fertility Abbreviations & Acronyms You Need to Know.
Can you get a BFP after a period?
No. You cannot get a BFP after you’ve had your period. Remember – your period only occurs when an egg is not fertilized, meaning you are not pregnant and would not test positive for pregnancy.
However, it’s important to note that an early sign of pregnancy may be light bleeding and spotting. This is called implantation bleeding, and it’s common to mistake implantation bleeding for a period.
Implantation bleeding vs your period
Implantation bleeding: what’s going on inside your body
Once an egg is fertilized by a sperm, it must then travel down the fallopian tube and implant itself in the uterine lining (i.e. the endometrium). This process then triggers the release of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), which is the hormone that kickstarts pregnancy. It is also the hormone that is detected in a pregnancy test.
The entire implantation process can take up to 12 days. During this time, it is common to experience light bleeding or spotting. It’s also normal to have implantation cramping, which feels similar to period cramps.
For more information on what’s going on inside of your body during early pregnancy, check out our article DPO Symptoms: What to Expect From 1 to 12 Days Past Ovulation.
Your period: what’s going on inside your body
Throughout each cycle, your body prepares itself for pregnancy by releasing an egg and thickening the lining of the uterus. If the egg is not fertilized, the egg disintegrates and the uterine lining is shed through the vagina – this is called your period.
Every individual is different, and the way that people experience their period is different too. While some may have periods that are short and light, others may have periods that are long and heavy. The reverse is also true, where some can have short but heavy periods while others have long but lighter periods. On average, periods last around four to five day with up to 60mL of menstrual fluid (4 tablespoons) being lost during this time.
For more information about your period and the phases of the menstrual cycle, check out our article Menstrual Cycle: Phases and Hormones.
How to identify if it was a BFP or a period
Track your cycle
Your cycle patterns and characteristics are unique to you and only you. So if you ever find yourself confused about the potential cause of any bleeding or spotting, it’s helpful to have your personal cycle history and information on hand. Some of the most popular fertility awareness methods for tracking your cycle include the basal body temperature (BBT) method, the cervical mucus method, and the calendar method. You can also use a cycle tracking app like Mira.
Take a pregnancy test
If there is a chance that you could be pregnant and you are confused about why you are bleeding or spotting, it’s a good idea to go ahead and take a pregnancy test. The earliest that you can take a pregnancy test is approximately 12 days after ovulation or on the first day of your missed period. If the test comes back negative but you are still spotting or concerned that you may be pregnant, take another test a few days later as there is a chance you could have received a false-negative result due to testing too early.
For more information on the best time to take a pregnancy test, check out our article When to Take a Pregnancy Test Based on Science and Ovulation.
BFP symptoms vs PMS symptoms
Unfortunately, due to rising progesterone levels, symptoms of early pregnancy and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can be quite similar – making it super confusing if you are trying to figure out whether or not you are pregnant!
However, among these shared symptoms, there are certain symptoms that are more commonly associated with one or the other. Here’s a quick overview of which symptoms to look out for in both scenarios.
Light spotting or bleeding is very common in early pregnancy and may also be associated with implantation cramping.
Fluctuating hormone levels are to blame for feelings of nausea in early pregnancy, which may affect things like your sense of smell and appetite.
Nipple or breast changes
Again, pregnancy hormones are to blame for causing your breasts or nipples to feel extra sensitive, sore, and achy.
It’s common to experience a drop in serotonin and a rise in cortisol ahead of your period, which can cause intense cravings for carbs, fats, and sweets.
Hormonal fluctuations and indulging in cravings may cause you to feel bloated in the days ahead of your period.
Research shows that elevated estrogen levels ahead of your period can slow intestinal movement, which may lead to constipation.
A drop in serotonin levels before your period can also lead to tiredness, fatigue, and a general lack of motivation/low mood.
What to do if you have a BFP
If you have taken an at-home pregnancy test and received a BFP, there is a strong chance that you are pregnant.
Once you receive a positive result at home, you should make an appointment with your doctor immediately. They will confirm your pregnancy with a blood test, assess your medical history, and provide you with the appropriate next steps for managing your pregnancy.
It’s also a good idea to start doing the following:
- Take a prenatal vitamin – learn more in our article The Benefits of Prenatal Vitamins.
- Stop consuming alcohol, tobacco, high-mercury fish, raw fish/meat/eggs, unpasteurized foods, and NSAID pain relievers.
- Limit consumption of caffeine to less than 200 mg per day.
- Continue (or start) exercising at a moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes each week.
- Open up to your partner or someone you trust about your pregnancy.