What Is Implantation Bleeding And Why Does It Happen?
There are many signs of early pregnancy.
From tender breasts to nausea in the morning (the start of morning sickness to come), the body has some tricks up its sleeve as to how to let a woman know conception has occurred.
These signs can be subtle at the beginning and often go up to 2-3 weeks without having any idea they are pregnant.
One reason for not knowing that fertilisation has occured in implantation bleeding.
Any type of blood that exits the body through the vagina is typically associated with not being pregnant.
Implantation bleeding turns this general knowledge on its head.
Here is some useful information on implantation bleeding, what it is, and why it happens:
What is implantation bleeding?
Implantation is another term associated with pregnancy.
After fertilisation has occurred, the egg embeds itself in the uterine wall lining, the endometriosis. This is called implantation. The egg is literally implanted in the uterus now.
The endometriosis is the the part of the uterus that is normally shedded during each menstrual cycle.
Part of the bleeding that happens is the uterus wall lining coming out of the body and making a big mess while it does it.
When conception occurs and the egg implants itself, the endometriosis doesn’t shed.
This means that there is no monthly cycle and no bleeding.
However, some implantation bleeding can occur. This isn’t bleeding like the standard menstrual bleeding. Rather, it is spotting.This happens because the egg is embedding in the endometriosis and this sometimes hits on blood vessels, causing some light spotting.
What are the signs of implantation bleeding?
The most obvious sign is the actual bleeding, but keep in mind that this bleeding will probably look and feel different to the standard menstrual cycle.
Implantation bleeding mostly resembles a pinkish or brownish spotting or light discharge.
Implantation bleeding might also bring about light or faint cramping. This won’t be as severe as menstrual cramps in most cases.
There may also be mood swings or headaches that happen around the same time. These are also symptoms of early pregnancy.
When does implantation bleeding happen?
Implantation bleeding doesn’t happen for everyone. If it is going to happen, it will be in the very early stages of pregnancy. Generally, it will take place around 5 to 10 days after conception, before the menstrual cycle would begin.
For those who know their menstrual cycle thoroughly, implantation bleeding generally occurs on day 22-25.
Menstruation normally occurs on day 14 of the standard cycle. Of course, the cycle varies for each woman so counting the days isn’t too necessary, but can help give a rough guideline to help define if it is implantation bleeding or not.
Is implantation bleeding bad for the pregnancy?
The human body is very well equipped at recovering itself and healing quickly. The uterus lining is no exception.
During each monthly cycle, the endometriosis goes through a process of maturing and thickening itself, in preparation for a fertilised egg. When fertilisation does not occur, the uterus sheds itself and heals again for the next cycle, next month.
So, when the fertilised egg pushes itself into the endometriosis and hits some blood vessels, it is no big deal in relation to what it normally goes through each month. The spotting as a result isn’t painful and there is rarely pain associated with it.
There might be some mild cramps when implantation occurs, but there are no negative side effects in most cases. Implantation bleeding rarely leads to issues later on during pregnancy.
If there are any concerns and the bleeding is heavier than mild spotting, consulting a medical professional is the best option.
How to tell if its implantation bleeding or the period?
When trying to conceive, seeing any sign of blood can be disappointing and distressing, as women mostly think this means they aren’t pregnant.
Implantation bleeding can occur before the hormones are strong enough to test positive to a home pregnancy test, so it can be a very confusing sign of early pregnancy.
There is no real conclusive way to know whether the spotting is from implantation bleeding or simply the start of the period.
What can help is calculating the time that sex last happened. If it was more than two weeks ago, the spotting probably isn’t implantation bleeding.
However, most women who experience implantation bleeding describe it as being noticeably different from their menstrual cycle.
The colour of the blood is normally a lot lighter, more of a pale pink or brown colour rather than the deep vibrant red of the monthly cycle.
Cramping can happen with implantation bleeding as well, but many women describe these cramps as being lighter and less intense than regular menstrual cramps.
The cramping that occurs with implantation bleeding is from the egg tucking itself into the uterus lining and giving a little extra nudge, but not with the same force as when the uterine wall sheds itself for menstruation.
So, if the bleeding doesn’t feel like the menstrual cycle and there are no other signs that are normally felt with the monthly cycle, odds are it is a sign of early pregnancy.
Be sure to pay attention to tender breasts and nausea or loss of appetite at this time to help distinguish between implantation bleeding and the menstrual cycle.
When to take a pregnancy test?
If implantation bleeding has occurred and there are other signs that pregnancy is upon the body, taking a home pregnancy test is often the first point of call.
As the body adjusts and adapts to pregnancy, the hormonal balances go through many changes.
A home pregnancy test works by reading the hormones in a woman’s urine. The longer pregnancy has been going on, the more accurate it will be.
So, since implantation bleeding occurs so soon after pregnancy, a test might not be entirely accurate straight away.
If there isn’t enough of the pregnancy hormone hCG, the test can come back as a false negative, leading to even more confusion!
After discovering implantation bleeding, the ideal time to wait is up to 3 days to take a test. This gives the body some more time to sort out the hormones and ensure the egg is thoroughly embedded.
Waiting 5 or more days is ideal, if it is possible to hold out for this long. It can be a nerve wrecking time trying to determine if pregnancy has occured, but the more patience the better to ensure the reading is accurate.
Is it necessary to see a doctor when implantation bleeding occurs?
Generally speaking, light bleeding during pregnancy is normal. It is just the body getting used to the egg being embedded in the endometriosis.
The blood vessels of the uterine wall are recovering from the initial poking and prodding while the egg tries to find the right place to call home.
However, if the spotting continues and gets more noticeable, it might be a good idea to see a doctor. Implantation bleeding shouldn’t last two long, in fact it mostly lasts 1 to 3 days depending on the woman.
If it keeps bleeding for more than a week, it more likely to be a period that implantation bleeding.
Ongoing bleeding that isn’t the menstrual cycle can be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, or a miscarriage. If the bleeding is too severe and doesn’t feel like a period, getting some medical advice is the best option.
Summarised key points to know about implantation bleeding
The first thing to know is that implantation bleeding doesn’t happen for every woman when they get pregnant. There is no guarantee that it will occur.
If it doesn’t occur, it isn’t a bad thing. If it doesn’t occur, this also isn’t a bad thing.
Implantation bleeding is lighter than the standard menstrual cycle and should arrive earlier than the cycle normally would. The colour is more pink than red.
Implantation bleeding happens a few days after conception. It is caused by the egg embedding itself in the uterus lining and putting pressure on the blood vessels, causing bleeding as a result.
Generally, implantation bleeding lasts just 1 to 2 days, but can remain up to 4 to 7 days. There are normally no clots with implantation bleeding.
If bleeding starts off as light spotting but develops into a steady, heavy flow, it is most likely the period coming at a different time of the cycle.
The best time to take a pregnancy test after implantation bleeding is 3 to 5 days. This is when there are high enough levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG to get an accurate read and determine if there is a pregnancy.
Implantation bleeding isn’t anything to worry about. It is a common occurrence.
However, if bleeding continues too much, it might be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. It is best to see a doctor if the bleeding feels concerning, there is vomiting or dizziness associated with it, or there is lower abdominal pain beyond the feeling of a cramp.