For many of us, there were early signs of pregnancy, even before taking a test. There is the exhaustion, the breast tenderness, and sometimes the urgency to pee…a lot. But for other women, there can be a more confusing sign, known as implantation bleeding. What is that all about? Read on.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Implantation bleeding is thought to happen when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. Implantation bleeding usually occurs around the time you would expect to have a menstrual period. However, implantation bleeding is lighter than menstrual bleeding.”
Implantation bleeding is often confused with a light period in some women. Due to the fact that it occurs typically 10 to 14 days after conception, it can easily be mistaken for a period. It is normally light pink, brown, or even black and normally is not accompanied by uterine cramping. While it doesn’t happen in all women, it is perfectly natural and totally harmless .
“Basically physiologically what happens is that fertilization takes place in the Fallopian tube, and the fertilized egg travels down into the uterus and implants into the lining,” Mary Jane Minkin OB/GYN, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University, told Scary Mommy.
She said that many believe that this bleeding is in fact a product of implantation. It can last for a few days and is often very light. She explained that implantation bleeding can be the first sign of pregnancy, even before a highly-sensitive test will come back positive.
“Many women, even using the most sensitive test available, the First Response Early Result test kit, which can detect pregnancy as early as 6 days before the first day of the missed period, will not have a positive pregnancy test, as it is so early in the development of the pregnancy,” she explained.
Approximately 25% of all pregnancies include implantation bleeding. Healthline lays out the major differences.
Regular Period …
- Lasts three to seven days with two to three of those days being bright red blood
- Generally starts heavy and lightens as the days go by
- More severe uterine cramping
- Uterine cramps can begin before a period starts and can last the duration of a period
… vs. Implantation Bleeding
- Implantation bleeding normally lasts only a day or two
- The blood is generally light in color and texture
- Cramping is often nonexistent, or very mild
And while implantation bleeding can happen to anyone, it is not cause for concern. As a matter of fact, it can be a sign that things are moving in the right direction when you are trying to conceive.
“We really don’t know how common this is. What we do know is that about a third of women will experience bleeding during the first three months of the pregnancy; of these women, half will go on to carry perfectly normal healthy pregnancies — and we think that some of this bleeding could be related to the process of implantation,” said Minkin.
She explained that bleeding can often occur during the first trimester and it is normally nothing to worry about. Having said that, bleeding that is bright red or that includes painful cramps or blood clots is definitely cause for concern.
“If the bleeding is taking place in the middle of the night and seems dangerously persistent or heavy, then call your doctor’s practice to speak to the on-call personnel,” Dr. Joshua Hurwitz, OB/GYN and reproductive endocrinologist at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut, told Healthline. “In any urgent situation, you can always go to the emergency room to be evaluated.”
Every person, and every pregnancy, is different. It is often so tempting to take that test because we want to know as soon as possible if there is a baby on the way. As the commercial used to say, “Imagine knowing you’re pregnant the moment it happens. Science is getting close.” Implantation bleeding can let you know even before the earliest-detecting pregnancy tests can.
It won’t happen during every pregnancy, but if you notice a little light bloody discharge in your underwear around the time that you are expecting your period, do not worry. It could be perfectly normal and of no concern and simply be implantation bleeding.
As always, trust yourself and know your body. If something seems wrong, contact your doctor. But if you are trying to conceive and see a little blood, don’t be disappointed just yet. A baby may still be in your arms in nine months.