Implantation Bleeding: When Does It Occur?
Trying to get pregnant is both an exciting and sometimes stressful time. It seems like you are always waiting and looking for any kind of signs that you may be pregnant before taking the pregnancy test. One of those signs that some women experience is light spotting or implantation bleeding.
But how can you know if it is different than your period? Sometimes women have no spotting or implantation bleeding. Sounds a little scary. It’s also not only a great idea to be able to recognize that implantation bleeding is different than your period, but also has similar but also different signs of an early miscarriage.
So, what exactly is it?
What Is Implantation Bleeding?
Roughly 7-14 days after fertilization it’s possible to experience light spotting or bleeding. This is referred to as implantation bleeding. Because our uterus lining thickens during our menstrual cycle, when the egg is fertilized, the lining needs to thicken more rather than shed as it does for our period.
Once the egg and sperm have formed it will turn into the embryo. When the embryo travels to the uterus it may pop little blood vessels along the way which can cause very light bleeding. This blood is usually light pink or brown instead of a deep red that you may notice in your period.
It’s very normal for anyone trying to get pregnant to be either disappointed to see blood or worried. However, it is quite normal and a lot of women experience this.
How Common is Implantation Bleeding?
Implantation bleeding is relatively common as about 25 percent of women, or one in four, experience light bleeding between 7-14 days after conceiving the child. However, doctors do like to note that not every spotting is a sure sign of pregnancy, spotting itself quite common in irregular periods.
Where it applies to pregnancies is that specific timing about halfway through to your period. While every woman is different, some doctors may recommend taking a pregnancy test after a few days if you suspect you are, while others may encourage you to wait until after the first missed day of your period.
This is mostly because implantation bleeding can be hard to differentiate between an irregular spotting period and an early miscarriage. It’s normally the day that follows that gives us a better sense of what it was.
When Does Implantation Bleeding Happen?
Implantation bleeding, if you get it, will happen in early pregnancy. It typically starts around 10-14 days after conception but can occur as early as day 6-7 after conceiving. Vaginal bleeding is very different and can occur anytime during the first eight weeks of your pregnancy.
Let’s break down the specifics of the entire cycle.
- Day 1: This is the first day of the entire menstrual cycle and the last period you had.
- Day 14-15: Depending on how long your cycle is (most 28 days) you will ovulate halfway through your entire cycle. So, in this example, a 28-30 cycle would indicate that you are ovulating on day 14.-15.
While an egg only lasts 24 hours, sperm can stay inside your body for 3-5 days which means that it can be difficult to get the timing of pregnancy down. For instance, the sperm from three days ago could be the one that matches with your egg or the one from five days ago if you are frequently trying to conceive or having intercourse.
- Day 22-26: Around day 22-26 the egg that has been fertilized will attach itself to the uterine wall.
Now you are just about back to the beginning of your period. This is where you can use the symptoms and signs to tell if you are experiencing regular flow or spotting/implantation bleeding.
Again, keep in mind that everyone's cycle is a different length. This means that if your cycle is much shorter you are going to experience very different numbers than listed above. This is just a general and common example of how it works.
Implantation Bleeding Symptoms
Identifying implantation bleeding is important because it is quite different from your period bleeding. You can look for the following characteristics and symptoms that can help you differentiate the two.
- Length of Flow
Keep in mind that every woman’s body is unique and can experience unique symptoms. These are the general symptoms women experience with implantation bleeding.
As mentioned, the timing can be particularly important to pay attention to. when it comes to implantation bleeding and pregnancy. It will typically occur in those 6-14 days or halfway till your scheduled period.
You can use an app like Flo if you have trouble keeping track of your menstrual cycle.
The key to recognizing this is implantation bleeding is that it will be spotting. Just a little bit of blood here and there but not anything real heavy. IF you need a regular super tampon to stop what’s going on then this is not implantation bleeding.
It can always start like spotting or implantation bleeding but then turn into a heavier flow. This would indicate that the original spotting was not in fact implantation spotting, to begin with.
This should mirror the heaviness of the spotting or bleeding. Typically, a period will induce more intense cramps that will linger around a little longer. With the spotting or implantation bleeding you may experience lighter more short-lived cramps.
Because every woman’s threshold for pain is slightly different, what might feel like an intense cramp to one woman may not feel comparable to another. It is best to judge for yourself based on previous period cramping whether this is better or worse.
Clots in your blood will indicate that this is your period and not spotting because with spotting and implantation bleeding the tissue and blood do not mix. This is because the uterus is not shedding its lining like it would on your period.
Length of Flow
A regular period will last anywhere between 4-7 days. Implantation bleeding is very minimal and quick. It usually only happens about 1-3 days and not a whole lot longer. Implantation bleeding is also very on and off which can sometimes confuse women because they don’t know when they start and stop is.
Implantation bleeding is on and off spotting where your period will be more consistent requiring the use of pads or tampons more frequently. Implantation bleeding may be around for one day and not the next. A period you are likely to bleed on the hour or a few times a day always needing some sort of protection for your underwear.
Implantation Bleeding FAQs
There are other symptoms you can look out for and signs you should take note of in case of possible health issues, Implantation bleeding is not as complicated to understand. It’s what can be confused for implantation bleeding that we should ask more questions about.
What are the other symptoms of pregnancy that can pair with Implantation Bleeding?
If you are experiencing some spotting but aren’t unsure if it is irregular period spotting or actual pregnancy, you can look for these other pregnancy signs to help investigate the situation.
- Tender/Sore Breasts
- Feeling Tired and Fatigued
- Lower Back Pain
- Irritability/Mood Swings
When do I need to take a pregnancy test?
If you suspect you may be pregnant from other symptoms such as the mentioned above paired with spotting, it is never harmful or a bad idea to take one. However, if you are not as worried you can always wait for a little to let your period pass and look for signs of clotting, color, heaviness, etc.
A urine pregnancy test will be able to tell your results and is 99 percent accurate. This test is meant to be taken the first day after your missed period. However, other pregnancy tests are more urine sensitive that won’t make you wait till your first day of missed period.
If you choose to do a blood pregnancy test (doctor administered only) they can detect the conception of the baby as soon as 11 days after becoming pregnant.
What are some ways to measure the amount of flow/spotting?
If you require a tampon there is a good chance that this is your period. This is likely too heavy for it to be implantation spotting. You can use a piece of toilet paper to see just small traces of light pink blood.
Or if you can essentially go through a pad in two hours is considered to be too much virginal bleeding to be considered spotting.
What are the causes for bleeding after a missed period?
Bleeding after a missed period is different than both menstruation and implantation bleeding. Sometimes this may be an issue at all and at other times it is a warning sign for a potential health issue. Some bleeding during the first trimester is normal for more sensitive women.
Here are some times where it may be an issue:
Most people talk about the differences between Implantation bleeding and a period but hat about a miscarriage?
Some of the same similar symptoms can occur with implantation bleeding and a miscarriage such as cramps and the bleeding itself. Sometimes the difference between the two may be obvious while other times a woman may not recognize it.
An early miscarriage does have the ability to start as early spotting or light bleeding. What happens next to usually distinguish itself is that the bleeding will start to turn into a heavier flow. This may include visible clots and the color may change from that light pink to the dark red or brown color.
This is very similar to a normal menstrual period. Heavier cramping and passing of tissue is also a sign of miscarriage.
It can be so exciting trying to get pregnant or even nerve-racking in some cases, that we can overanalyze and look to signs and symptoms to try to give us an early sign. While implantation bleeding is an early tell of being pregnant it can be really difficult to pinpoint that is what it is because we don’t know until after a few days of experiencing it.
Of course, if we look towards other signs that we may be feeling paired with the light spotting then it may be easier to guess that is what’s going on. For the women who didn’t know it was normal, no need to fret because at least one in four women experience implantation bleeding once the embryo tries to make its way down the uterus.
There are some instances, typically later in pregnancy, that you will want to look out for. Any time that the spotting turns into heavier bleeding and you are aware that you are pregnant, you should consult a doctor. This may be a sign of a health issue that they will need to diagnose.