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What is Implantation Bleeding, and When to See a Doctor?

What is Implantation Bleeding
Medically reviewed by Dr. Mandy Liedeman


Early pregnancy bleeding is relatively common and may occur in up to 15-25 percent of the population. It may be the first sign of pregnancy in most cases and occurs about six to twelve days after conceiving a baby. It typically occurs within the first few days of conception when the blastocyst attaches to the uterine lining.

This article aims to make you aware of implantation bleeding, its actual signs and symptoms, its causes, and how it differs from menstruation.

What is Implantation Bleeding?

Bleeding can occur when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining about 10-14 days after conception, which is known as “implantation bleeding.” This process can result in light bleeding or spotting, which is entirely normal and does not require any kind of medical attention. Generally, around a third of pregnant women will experience implantation bleeding.

The fertilized egg will reach from the fallopian tube to your uterus in about three or four days after fertilization. Meanwhile, your ovaries release estrogen, which thickens and develops more blood vessels in the lining of your uterus (the endometrium). The uterine lining prepares to host the embryonic egg that is rapidly growing. As soon as the egg enters the uterus, it forms a blastocyst or embryo with multiple cells. 

Following successful fertilization by a sperm in a fallopian tube and attachment to the endometrium, the embryo will begin its nine-month development cycle. Then it starts growing and dividing inside the blood-rich lining of your uterus. In some women, a blastocyst may burst tiny blood vessels as it burrows into their endometrium, resulting in vaginal bleeding.

Some women may experience light spotting or bleeding due to implantation around one to three weeks after fertilization, around the same time they would typically expect their period. However, others experience no implantation bleeding at all. It is lighter than menstrual bleeding and stops on its own. Sometimes it is mistaken for a light period spotting; if this happens, you might not realize that you are pregnant.

However, if you experience heavy bleeding or extreme cramping, you should contact a physician and get the proper medication for this vaginal bleeding.

Timeline of Implantation Bleeding

Implantation bleeding and period bleeding doesn’t happen at the same time. Still, it’s comparatively light and shorter than menstruation and happens a bit earlier than when you’d expect to get your period. It generally lasts for a few days. It usually occurs 10 to 15 days after conception or when you miss your menstrual cycle. It may appear as light spotting. It may or may not be mixed with cervical mucus. However, vaginal bleeding reported anytime in the first seven to eight weeks of pregnancy is termed as early pregnancy bleeding.

A general timeline for this whole process will look like this:

Ovulation (Time may vary from person to person): 14 days before the next menstruation cycle

Day 1-2: Fertilization starts between 0-1 day of ovulation.

Day 2-6: Mitosis occurs, and the fertilized egg is transformed into a blastocyst with cells.

Day 6-7: The implantation process begins with the embryo adhering to the uterine wall and ends with the uterine wall being sealed by a blood clot.

Day 10-12: It usually takes 10–14 days after conception for the bleeding to occur.

If you are concerned about implantation bleeding, consult with our doctors online

Symptoms of Implantation Bleeding

Implantation bleeding mainly occurs in the early days of pregnancy, usually before any other early pregnancy symptoms, such as women getting morning sickness. There are some signs to help the person identify implantation bleeding. However, it isn’t certain that you are pregnant if you experience these symptoms – they can also indicate ovulation or PMS. It is also common to have none of these symptoms.

  • Early bleeding usually occurs before the menstruation cycle.
  • Unusual colored discharge such as pinkish or dark brown
  • Nausea usually occurs around 4-5 weeks of pregnancy
  • Cravings or aversions
  • Fatigue
  • Tender or sore breasts
  • Mild cramping or abdominal tenderness
  • Light bleeding
  • Thicker or gummier mucus discharge
  • Frequent urination
  • Lower back pain

Women may also experience other pregnancy-related symptoms, such as

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Mood swings
  • Bloating
  • A raised body temperature
  • Increased sense of smell
  • Constipation,

However, not everyone experiences the symptoms given above. Some people may only experience light bleeding that lasts for one to two days. Therefore, it is better to consult a doctor or take a pregnancy test at home instead of being in doubt.

How do you Differentiate Between Implantation Bleeding and Periods?

Many females confuse implantation bleeding with a light period. There are a few steps to identifying what’s happening.

Check out the blood

Implantation bleeding color will usually look slightly different from period blood. It takes extra time to travel through the vagina, which might have a light brown, pink, or rusty discharge. In normal bleeding, the bleeding is often heavy at the beginning and gradually lessens as the period progresses, whereas in implantation bleeding, the bleeding is usually very light.

Most females will experience very light bleeding, a few hours of spotting, and nothing more, although some will experience pink or brownish discharge and spotting.

Although some women may experience bright red or pink bleeding during implantation, it will still be lighter than menstrual blood.

Check the timing

Implantation usually occurs around seven to ten days after fertilization. Generally, this time corresponds to the end of your menstruation cycle.

Additionally, females who haven’t had sex for more than a month or two are unlikely to experience implantation bleeding. In the days following the end of implantation bleeding, you can check whether you are pregnant by taking a home pregnancy test via a pregnancy kit.

It is not possible to predict the pattern of implantation bleeding. In some pregnancies, it may occur, and in others, it may not.

Blood Clot

Clotting is typically the result of heavier period blood, whereas implantation doesn’t usually result in clots. It is because there is not enough blood to clot during implantation bleeding. Hence, implantation bleeding may appear as a brownish discharge without any clots.

Intensity of cramps

Usually, period cramps occur one to two days before bleeding starts and last for two to three days. There can be quite a bit of pain during this period. However, there is usually no or mild cramping during the implantation of an embryo. 

An important thing to note is that these signs are not guaranteed indicators of menstruation versus implantation bleeding because many other physical and hormonal factors can cause these signs.

Other symptoms

A woman may also be able to distinguish implantation bleeding from menstruation by observing some related pregnancy symptoms. Other symptoms of pregnancy include morning sickness and feeling nauseous. Some women do not experience breast tenderness during their menstruation but may when pregnant.

Some symptoms, however, can be harder to detect, such as lower back pain, mood swings, or weird cravings. PMS, as well as pregnancy, can cause these symptoms.

Consult with an online doctor to know if bleeding or spotting is a serious health concern

Causes of Implantation Bleeding

Implantation is not a sign of some kind of disease or health problem. It is estimated that 100 ml of blood circulates through the uterine arteries every minute in non-pregnant women. However, the flow rate increased to 120 ml per minute during early pregnancy. Because the uterus has a good supply of blood vessels in these early stages, bleeding is more common.

After a sperm fertilizes your egg, this leads to the formation of an embryo that travels to your uterus, where it implants itself into the uterine lining. Tiny blood vessels can burst as the blastocyst burrows into the endometrium, which results in a small amount of vaginal bleeding. It is normal and doesn’t mean that you or your baby will face any problems.

As a result, implantation bleeding differs slightly from menstrual blood because it occurs during this complex process. It is also possible to experience bleeding from other equally natural causes since the endometrial tissue contains a lot of blood vessels. Here are some possible causes of heavy bleeding.

  • Subchorionic hemorrhage is the partial detachment of the chorion membrane from the walls of the uterus. In most cases, it will not affect the baby.
  • Ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency as it happens when the fertilized egg implants outside the womb, usually in the fallopian tubes connecting the ovaries to the womb. Pregnancy won’t survive if it is ectopic.
  • Miscarriage is also known as spontaneous abortion. The term refers to the loss of a pregnancy before 25 weeks. Also, it is one of the most common pregnancy complications. About 20 percent of pregnancies end in a miscarriage, but the exact statistics are likely to be higher than this. It is also said that 80 percent of miscarriages happen during the first trimester.
  • Molar pregnancy includes a rare form of cancer.

Is Implantation Bleeding a Concern?

Bleeding due to implantation should not be a significant cause for concern because it’s not dangerous or harmful. However, suppose you experience heavy bleeding, no matter how light, whether early or late in a confirmed pregnancy. In that case, you should immediately contact your healthcare provider to seek emergency medical care.

In some cases, women may experience post-implantation light bleeding during pregnancy, which is not considered standard. Here are a few main reasons it may happen:

  • Cervical irritation (especially following OBGYN examinations)
  • Irritation from intercourse
  • Lifting, exercising, or exerting excessively
  • Infection of the vaginal canal.

In the later stages of pregnancy, prolonged bleeding can signify something more serious. Therefore, it is advised that you get immediate medical attention if you experience heavy bleeding during pregnancy.

Moreover, you must contact your doctor if you experience nausea/vomiting, dizziness, or one-sided abdominal pain, which could indicate an ectopic pregnancy. While cramping is natural during pregnancy, it is recommended to visit a doctor if the pain during cramping becomes severe.

How Long Does it Last?

In most cases, implantation bleeding lasts only a couple of hours to a few days. Sometimes implantation bleeding lasts up to seven days, but if your period is heavy or bright red, implantation bleeding is unlikely.

Pregnant women usually experience minor bleeding in the first trimester. Spotting during the first trimester can also indicate an ectopic pregnancy, a potentially dangerous condition requiring medication or surgery.

However, in some cases, women may experience bleeding during the second or third trimester if their cervix has been infected or there may have been placental abruption.

Do you have questions regarding early pregnancy? Chat with a Doctor for advice

Treatment for Implantation Bleeding

Implantation bleeding usually stops on its own; it doesn’t require any treatment. The bleeding associated with implantation is typical of early pregnancy and is usually not a cause for concern. This bleeding is not a severe medical issue, so there is no need to treat it.

An abnormally heavy period can indicate either a menstrual problem or pregnancy complications, such as AUB (abnormal uterine bleeding). If such risks and difficulties arise, consult a gynecologist.

However, here are some steps to stop implantation bleeding and take care of yourself at home.

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Avoiding sex while you are bleeding
  • Use pads rather than menstrual cups or tampons while you are bleeding
  • Take paracetamol (a mild pain reliever) if needed 
  • Report any changes in your condition to your healthcare provider.

When to Consult a Doctor for Implantation Bleeding?

Suppose you cannot differentiate whether you are experiencing light periods or implantation bleeding. In that case, a doctor is the best person to talk to so that you can get the proper diagnosis. 

Consult online doctors at Your Doctors Online and get the best advice regarding implantation bleeding and early pregnancy. 

FAQs About Implantation Bleeding Answered by Your Doctors Online Team

How much bleeding occurs during implantation?

It usually takes one or two days for the implantation bleeding to subside. It might be enough to wear underwear but not enough to soak a tampon or be harmful. In rare cases, implantation can be heavy.

Is always bleeding a part of the implantation process?

The concept of implantation bleeding is popular, but no evidence supports it. It is not physiologically possible for implantation to cause bleeding. According to studies, a bleeding period is more likely to indicate an impending period than an early pregnancy. Pregnant women often have light pink or brown discharges in the early weeks before even getting a positive pregnancy test. It is called implantation bleeding.

Do you always get bleeding with implantation?

Not at all. Early pregnancies only result in bleeding in 15-25% of cases. If you’re worried, you should get checked out because bleeding could still signify a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Spotting is usually a normal sign of implantation, but bleeding should be checked out if you’re worried. There’s usually nothing to worry about when it comes to implantation bleeding.

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