What is Implantation Pain and What Does it Feel Like?
We are looking in this article at implantation pain, and how to know what is normal. Commonly confused with period cramping, it is a sign of early pregnancy and a signal to look after yourself.
If you are trying to get pregnant then you may be super-aware of any tiny sensation or slight change in your body. Many women look for the moment when implantation occurs, and pregnancy essentially starts.
Some people can feel this, but most women won’t so don’t stress too much if this hasn’t occurred.
It can be commonly mixed up with period cramping, however, so here are some ways to tell the difference and why you need to know.
What is implantation pain?
Implantation pain or implantation cramping is a pain you may feel as a very early sign of pregnancy. Feeling a lot like period pain, it is the sensation of the fertilised egg implanting itself into the lining of your uterus.
It is embedding itself in the uterine lining which can break some blood vessels, causing the pain and perhaps spotting or bleeding.
It is not something that every woman feels, so you could be pregnant without feeling like kind of sensation. Around 30% of women report feeling some kind of implantation sensation, so it is not weird or abnormal if you didn’t pick up on this with any of your pregnancies.
Additionally, you could feel this pain and have it not be a sign of pregnancy, but of something else.
The similarity in sensation with period cramping means the two are very easily confused.
Let’s have a look at some ways you might be able to tell the difference.
What are menstrual cramps?
Period pain, or menstrual cramping occurs when your uterus contracts to expel its lining. This happens because prostaglandins in your body trigger the uterine muscles to contract. This is inflammation pain, and is okay to treat with paracetamol or other over the counter relief for period pain.
It is not advisable that you treat implantation pain with OTC medications as these may increase your chances of miscarriage.
Therefore, it is really important that you be able to tell the difference between the two, or be extra careful at this time if you are still unsure.
Implantation Pain vs Period Pain: how to tell the difference
On its own, implantation pain can feel a lot like period pain, but the difference is usually in the severity, location, the exact sensation and in other symptoms you feel at that same time.
Period pain will happen specifically at the end of your cycle, and will be accompanied or followed in the next few days by your period.
Implantation cramps will happen between 6 to 12 days after ovulation, which can coincide with the time your period would normally start. They can also be accompanied by light spotting and even heavy bleeding.
However, most implantation will occur between 2 and 7 days before your period is due.
The pain may feel like:
· Pulling on one side
The other symptoms of early pregnancy will likely accompany implantation cramping, but many of these are also very similar to symptoms of getting your period.These include:
· Swollen, tender, heavier, or fuller breasts
· Extreme tiredness
· Feeling sick or vomiting
· Food aversions or cravings
· Mood swings
· Feeling tearful
· Dizziness or faintness
· Raised body temperature
One of the biggest indicators of early pregnancy is a missed period.
There should be much less bleeding concurrent with implantation than your period, and the blood will be light brown or pink. It should also stop fairly quickly. If you start bleeding and it increases in severity or looks more bright red than pink, it is menstruation and not implantation.
Implantation pain will usually only last 1-3 days, so is usually shorter than menstrual cramping.
Implantation cramping is usually mild and not as severe as menstrual cramping. If you are suffering from severe abdominal cramping and it doesn’t seem to relate to your period, then you should see your doctor for more advice.
If you believe you are pregnant but are experiencing bleeding then you should also contact your doctor.
It is easy to still be confused by the difference between implantation pain and period pain. You may not really know for sure which one you are feeling until you have done a pregnancy test.
How to be sure?
If you are actively trying to conceive and you feel pain that may be implantation pain, it is best to be cautious. When you are trying to get pregnant, the best you can do for yourself is act as though you are already pregnant.
This includes taking steps like:
· Not drinking or smoking
· Sticking to a safe, pregnancy-friendly diet
· Taking a prenatal vitamin
· Not taking OTC or other medications that shouldn’t be taken while pregnant
Around 2 weeks after your period was due, or after you think you have felt implantation pain, you should be able to take a home pregnancy test to check for sure.
The pregnancy test checks your body for levels of the pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which should be high enough by this time to be detected.
If you experience a milder pain and light brown or pink spotting around a week before your period is due, this could be implantation pain, and an indication that you are pregnant. Then when your period doesn’t come as usual this can be another very strong sign.
Period pain will likely be more intense, last longer and involve heavier bright red bleeding.
Sometimes the only way to know for sure is to treat yourself with caution as though you are pregnant and then take a pregnancy test around 2 weeks after your period is due.
If you are at all concerned then speak with your doctor.