Implantation Bleeding or Your Period?
Women's Health
October 02, 2017
Implantation Bleeding or Your Period?
Woman smiling looking at pregnancy test

If you’re working on becoming pregnant, you may be looking for any little sign that there’s a baby on board. Above all, try not to stress during this journey. Getting pregnant may take time, and early signs of pregnancy can show up at different points after conception. It’s even possible to be pregnant without noticing any early signs at all. Yet for approximately one-third of women who conceive, implantation bleeding is one sign that an egg and sperm have met.

If you experience bleeding that is lighter in color and flow than what you are used to during your period, implantation bleeding may be the reason. It’s likely to appear as small pink or dark brown spots in your underwear and not be heavy enough to soak a tampon or pad. This early sign of pregnancy happens around 6 to 12 days after conception has occurred and before the time of an expected period. It may also be accompanied by mild cramping.

Implantation bleeding isn’t dangerous and it shouldn’t require treatment. But if the bleeding becomes heavier than your typical period or it’s combined with chills, fever or cramps that get worse, you’ll want to seek immediate medical help.

What is Implantation Bleeding?

After a sperm fertilizes your egg, they become an embryo. The embryo then travels to the uterus, where it implants itself into the uterine lining. Sometimes, as the embryo attaches, it messes with the blood vessels in the uterus and causes a little bleeding to occur between 10 and 14 days after ovulation. This is in contrast to your period, which will usually begin 14 days after ovulation.

The mild cramping that can accompany implantation bleeding signals that the egg has implanted in the uterine lining and the uterus has begun changing to accommodate the developing embryo. However, the viability of a pregnancy does not increase just because there is evidence of implantation bleeding. Even if you do not have any implantation bleeding, it does not mean that you are not pregnant or that there is an issue with your pregnancy.

Consider the Timing

Since implantation bleeding occurs relatively close to the time when your next menstrual cycle is expected, ask yourself when was the last time you had sex. If more than a month or two has passed, then it’s unlikely that what you’re seeing is implantation bleeding.

“Implantation bleeding may be confused with a normal menstrual cycle, leading some women to be surprised when they learn their pregnancy is a month further along than they originally estimated,” according to obstetrician Michael Glover, D.O., an obstetrician/gynecologist at Texas Health Women’s Care, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice, and on the medical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne. “It’s not something that occurs in every newly pregnant woman and it normally lasts for just a couple of hours. In rare cases such spotting may continue for one to two days, which is why it may be taken for the beginning of a regular period. ”

Glover also noted that once implantation has occurred, it generally takes from two to four days for enough pregnancy hormone to accumulate in the urine to get a positive pregnancy test. So it’s recommended that you wait several more days before testing to promote a proper result.

“A pregnancy test done at the time of implantation bleeding will always be negative, but a urine pregnancy test will be positive usually within five to six days after the implantation bleeding. A blood pregnancy test will be positive a few days sooner. Bleeding that occurs after a woman has a positive pregnancy test is not implantation bleeding and should be closely monitored,” he added.

Get a Clearer Pregnancy Picture

Once a pregnancy is confirmed in your doctor’s office, your physician can use other testing to determine the correct gestational age of the fetus. This is especially true if implantation bleeding has left some question as to when the last actual menstrual cycle occurred. An ultrasound may be done with the initiation of prenatal care to confirm the date of pregnancy.

The best way to know if you’re pregnant, and if what you see on your underwear is really implantation bleeding, is to leave the determination to a health care professional. To find a physician specializing in women’s health and OB/GYN services through Texas Health Resources, visit Women’s Health.


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