Implantation Bleeding

1 What is implantation bleeding?

When a woman is actively trying to get pregnant, the first weeks between ovulation and positive pregnancy test can seem like a year. Most women will spend most of the time trying to feel if there are any signs of pregnancy such as yawning, craving for some foods, abdominal pains, and twinges. With one or more of those signs, many will think they are pregnant.

There is one of the major signs of early pregnancy that many women should consider. This sign is implantation bleeding.

Does implantation bleeding necessarily mean anything? While it is difficult to tell, most women who experience implantation bleeding have healthy and normal pregnancies. Normal pregnancies have implantation bleeding after the embryo lodges itself on the uterine wall.

Implantation bleeding is one of the signs that a woman is pregnant. Implantation bleeding starts 6 to 12 days after the egg has been fertilized. Approximately 1/3 of women will experience implantation bleeding immediately after egg implantation. 

Many young women will mistake this type of bleeding with a period. However, it is much lighter than periods, and may only last for a few days or hours.

After the egg has been fertilized, it finds its way to the uterus and attaches itself on the lining of the uterus. Once the egg has burrowed itself on the uterine wall, it causes some minor bleeding. This type of bleeding will not harm the baby. Many women who experience this bleeding move on to have healthy lives and normal pregnancies.

ImplantationBleeding

In many cases, the implantation bleeding discharge will be either light pink or brown in color. The flow itself is typically light and lasts for a short period of time. Some women might even experience slight cramping. Bleeding of this type will come and go.

Since bleeding occurs just a few days after conception, it may be one of the signs of pregnancy that some women may experience ahead of morning sickness.

2 When does implantation bleeding occur?

Implantation bleeding will occur immediately after the fertilized egg burrows itself into the uterine wall. This causes minor bleeding, which may come out any time in form of a pink or brown discharge.

Other factors that would stimulate implantation bleeding to occur include:

  • Uterine fibroids - Fibroids are benign tumors that can grow on the womb. They can cause bleeding after egg implantation
  • Infections - Some STDs can cause bleeding before or after implantation
  • Cancers - Cancers of the ovary or cervix may cause increased bleeding after implantation

There is no exact date to predict when implantation bleeding occurs. It depends on how your egg moves down the oviduct and finally attaches itself on the uterine wall.

Since every woman is different, implantation bleeding may occur 10 to 14 days after ovulation. The blood produced after this will be much less in volume and lighter than that of a normal period. Some women never even experience implantation bleeding at all.

As mentioned earlier, only around a third of women experiences implantation bleeding. However, with that being said, just because you do not experience implantation bleeding does not mean you are not pregnant. It just means you are in the remaining two thirds of women who experience no implantation bleeding as an indication of pregnancy.

The symptoms of a menstrual period for women cannot be experienced during implantation bleeding.

Such symptoms include:

If you experience the above symptoms, it is usually the case that they are just symptoms of a late period, and you should expect menses to follow shortly thereafter.

Menstrual Cycle

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3 What does implantation bleeding look like?

This is the very first question a woman who is trying get pregnant should ask. You should know what to expect with implantation bleeding. Typically, the implantation bleeding color is brownish or pink. This color is very different from that of period blood, which ranges from dark or bright red. Implantation blood looks like mucus with a brown or pink tinge.

Can implantation bleeding be red?

The answer to this question is YES. Typically, the color of implantation blood is brownish or pinkish, but as mentioned above, every woman is different. The color may vary depending on the time blood takes to escape from the body.

Implantation bleeding that is red in color means that there are active areas of bleeding inside the womb, and the blood is flowing very quickly from the site of implantation to the outside of the body.

On the other hand, brown or pink blood shows presence of old blood. When little blood is produced, it takes more time before coming out through the vagina. By the time you notice this type of blood, it is brownish or pink in color.

In case you have implantation bleeding red in color, you should do the following:

  • You should not be worried once you see red implantation bleeding, since a large majority of all implantation conditions end up with a normal pregnancy, no matter the characteristics of implantation blood.
  • You should know your partner’s blood group as you may require an injection of Rh-immune globulin during the 24 hours of heavy implantation bleeding.
  • If you experiencing this type of bleeding and you are doubting pregnancy, you should go for a pregnancy test. Discuss the results with your partner and with your OBGYN.
  • Even though you are bleeding, do not insert a tampon into your vagina. Make sure you closely follow your bleeding and see whether it reduces or increases. You can do this by using pads instead, and checking the number of pads you have used.
  • If your implantation bleeding lasts longer than a few days, you should call or consult your doctor for a physical examination. This could require ultrasound scans or other imaging services.

4 How long does implantation bleeding last?

In case you experience bleeding and you are sure it is not associated with your menstrual cycle, then this may be implantation bleeding. During implantation bleeding, a very small amount of blood may pass between the endometrium and is forced out of the body through the vagina.

The period of implantation bleeding last depends entirely on the individual. Many women will experience implantation bleeding for only a few hours before it stops. Other women may have implantation bleeding that lasts for days. There is no exact timeline for implantation bleeding, as it can vary from woman to woman.

It is very important to know that implantation bleeding is not as heavy as period bleeding. Some women say that they experience spotting with a few drops of blood or a faint discharge that is sometimes not noticeable. However, implantation bleeding can cause the woman to experience slight cramps similar to that of periods, but with no other associated pain and often of less severity.

5 Can implantation bleeding be heavy?

The answer to this question is yes! For many women, implantation bleeding is usually not heavy.

There is a small space that is found between the uterine wall and the egg for a majority of women. If the space happens to be wider, then it means more blood is likely to flow out through the vaginal opening. How heavy is implantation bleeding is can be determined by the size of the space located between the egg and the uterine wall. Each woman is different, so this varies from person to person.

If your implantation bleeding is abnormally heavy, seek assistance from your OBGYN right away. It is rare, but some women experience implantation bleeding that is as heavy as their regular period. Normally, heavy bleeding as a result of implantation is not painful, lessens quickly, and does not last for a long time. Since the normal blood discharge can only be released through a tiny space, the blood flow can therefore not be maintained like in a normal period.

Normally, women who experience heavy bleeding will have it stop quickly and see a lighter color blood or discharge.

Normal implantation bleeding will last for hours or days. However, heavy implantation bleeding is not always that consistent. One of its biggest signs that there is a problem is pain. With implantation bleeding, you should not feel any pain.

Therefore, if you experience any of the following symptoms, you should visit your OBGYN:

Heavy bleeding with clots is something abnormal. It may be a sign of miscarriage and should be immediately addressed to your doctor.

You should not be so much worried with heavy implantation bleeding, as it may last for 2-4 days for many women. There is no treatment for such a condition, meaning that one should wait until the bleeding stops. It is not normal for heavy bleeding to extend after the implantation period. You should wear pads during these conditions to prevent staining.

6 What is it: Implantation bleeding or period?

If you spot blood and have recently tried to get pregnant, you may very well have this question in mind. Implantation bleeding will occur when a fertilized egg attaches itself on the uterine wall. When attachment of the egg is complete, many women may experience very light implantation bleeding as the lining of the uterus is being shed. In this case, the bleeding can either be brown or pink. It is noticeably different from a woman’s period.

Below are some things you should look for to understand the difference between implantation bleeding and period:

The color of the blood

  • Discharge that is light, pink or brown in color is a sign of implantation bleeding. However, red blood shows a sign of menstruation or period.
  • In minor cases, you can have light red implantation bleeding. This shows that the blood has not lasted long on the womb; it has been shed directly from the uterine wall.
  • Discharge brown in color indicates that it is older blood that may have spent some time in the uterus after egg implantation, whereas red blood indicates more recent blood. 

It is rare for women to experience red blood after implantation. It takes time for implantation blood to move out of the body, and this makes the blood to age and turn into pink or brown. Some women may even experience dark brown implantation discharge. 

The flow

The major difference between period and implantation bleeding is the flow. The bleeding as a result of implantation is always very light and stays light until it is discharged. For a large number of women, the menses starts light but becomes heavier with time.

Another important differentiation is that blood from implantation will not form clots as normal menstruation blood would do.

Implantation bleeding is normally not heavy. Bleeding associated with implantation is always very light. Therefore, if you experience heavier bleeding, it may be either a sign of miscarriage or menstruation. If you experience heavy bleeding when it is unexpected, contact your OBGYN immediately.

You should therefore be sure that your implantation bleeding will be light and will remain light over time. However, if the consistency of your flow becomes heavier, you should be experiencing a period soon.

Cramping

Both implantation bleeding and menstruation can cause pain and cramping. However, menstruation cramps are typically more intense than those associated with implantation. If you happen to experience faint or light cramps that never increase the intensity of bleeding, then this may indicate the presence of implantation bleeding.

Implantation causes cramping when the fertilized egg burrows and attach itself to the endometrium. This causes the uterine muscles to contract. During contraction, the nerve endings are pinched by the muscles which cause pains that are similar to those of menstruation cramps. Even when they are minor, cramps may take a few hours or even days to subside.

Consistency

Is your bleeding consistent, or off? With implantation discharge, spotting will come and go. With menstruation, you will experience bleeding all through the duration of the menses. This lasts for approximately 4 to 7 days. Bleeding as a result of implantation will typically take 1 – 2 days. However, some women may experience spotting for a longer period than this.

Since every woman and her pregnancy is different, the period of implantation bleeding may vary from one woman to the other. For some women, implantation bleeding may take a few hours and then stop, never to return again. For others, spotting can be on and off for 2 - 4 days.

Periods, however, are always consistent from the first to the last day and typically do not switch on and off.

Other symptoms of implantation bleeding

Implantation bleeding symptoms may include the following:

  • Light cramping and pains
  • Spotting which is different from period

Some women may experience cramping as the egg attaches itself on the wall of the uterus, even if cramping is not typically experienced during a period.

When you experience light spotting and cramping, there is a possibility of other signs of implantation bleeding and early pregnancy, such as:

  • Mood swings- A woman may feel major hormonal changes after implantation bleeding. Mood swings vary depending on the woman, and can range from mild to severe.
  • Nausea- Morning sickness is one major sign or pregnancy that a woman may experience after implantation bleeding goes away.
  • Fatigue- Many women may feel constantly exhausted after implantation bleeding. The level of fatigue generally becomes more severe with time during early pregnancy.
  • Change of bathroom habits- During early pregnancy, the body of a woman changes constantly, including a change in bathroom habits. Early pregnancy may cause constipation and frequent urination.
  • Tender and sore breasts- Changes that indicate early pregnancy are likely to be experienced in a woman’s breasts after implantation bleeding. The increased blood flow makes milk ducts and veins more noticeable.All these changes lead the breasts to become tender and swollen.

7 How long after implantation bleeding can you take a pregnancy test?

Implantation is a process that occurs after the fertilized egg attaches itself on the uterine wall. Therefore, it is a sure sign that you are in the very early stages of pregnancy. To know if you are pregnant, you should go for an implantation bleeding pregnancy test. This is through testing a blood sample either at home or in a clinic to screen for pregnancy hormone known as HCG.

One big mistake many women make is going for a test immediately after experiencing implantation bleeding. The reliability of a pregnancy test will depend on the level of HCG at a certain stage. Usually, you can see an accurate result for a pregnancy test 6 to 8 days after implantation bleeding occurs. If you go for the test earlier than this, you might end up having negative results, even if you are pregnant.

The final and confirmed results of your pregnancy test will be told by your doctor after performing in-office pregnancy testing.

Is a pregnancy test after implantation bleeding reliable?

Even after calculating how many days you should wait after implantation bleeding, keep in mind that ectopic pregnancy causes rise of HCG, but at a slower rate than normal pregnancy. Miscarriage can also be another cause of lower levels of HCG. Both miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy can alter the results of a pregnancy test.

A negative result for your implantation bleeding pregnancy test can possibly be caused by early testing when the levels of HCG are at a minimal mark and cannot be detected.

Causes of positive results can be:

  • Laboratory error
  • Presence of a tumor that releases chorionic gonadotropin
  • Damage of the blood cells (hemolysis)
  • High levels of lipids in the blood (lipidemia)

Implantation Bleeding

8 Quiz: Is it implantation bleeding or your period?

Many women will experience implantation bleeding during her first pregnancy only, and will never experience it again.

Consult the quiz below to see if you are likely experiencing implantation bleeding, or your period.

Your quiz results are not intended to provide professional medical advice. Visit your OBGYN through each step of your pregnancy to maintain in good health.

Question 1 of 7

Did you experience any spotting?

Question 2 of 7

Is your bleeding consistent?

Question 3 of 7

Are you near the time of your regular menstrual period?

Question 4 of 7

Have you experienced any cramping?

Question 5 of 7

Have you experienced any dark pink or light brown spotting or discharge?

Question 6 of 7

Have you experienced bleeding for more than three days?

Question 7 of 7

Is the bleeding occurring 6 to 12 days after ovulation?

As mentioned previously, the above short quiz is based on the signs and symptoms associated with implantation bleeding. However, you can never be 100% sure that your bleeding has been caused by implantation without consulting with your physician. After taking a pregnancy test and visiting your OBGYN, you will be able to determine the cause of bleeding, and your next steps in maintaining good health during your pregnancy.

If you answered “Yes” to more than half of the above quiz questions, you may have a clearer picture of what it means to have implantation bleeding. You should make sure all the questions are answered correctly and truthfully. Your answers to these questions will help during your next visit to your OBGYN.

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