Implantation Bleeding

Whether you are trying to get pregnant or just concerned about sudden spots of pink, implantation bleeding can happen. While spots of pink or brown may be a sign that your period is about to begin, it can also be implantation bleeding. This can be difficult to discern since it may seem like your normal menstrual cycle has started. Women who are trying to get pregnant for the first time are often unfamiliar with how implantation bleeding. Depending on the timing, flow and the color of blood, you can determine if you are having implantation bleeding or if your period is about to start.

What Is Implantation Bleeding?

Implantation bleeding is one of the first signs that a woman may be pregnant. Although it is one of the first signs of a pregnancy, only one out of three women actually experience implantation bleeding. As a rule, implantation bleeding occurs 6 to 12 days after fertilization has occurred. It causes light spotting that can last for just a couple of hours or for several days.

When the egg is fertilized in the Fallopian tubes, it waits for up to four days before traveling to the uterus. Once it has reached the uterus, the egg tries to embed within the lining of the uterine wall. As the egg burrows into the uterine wall, it can cause some mild bleeding to occur. Normal implantation bleeding is not a problem because it is just a sign of a normal pregnancy. If the bleeding is heavy or lasts for several days, it could also be a sign of the woman’s period starting or an early miscarriage.

When the woman experiences implantation bleeding, it will normally last for just a short period of time. The blood flow will be extremely light and could be light pink or brown in color. The bleeding may come and go, and some women may also experience slight cramping during implantation. Since implantation takes place just a few days after fertilization, it happens before the woman even begins to experience morning sickness.

What Is Spotting?

Spotting refers to the type of light bleeding that happens right before your period or sometimes in between periods. It also occurs during implantation. Once the fertilized egg has attached to the wall of the uterus, it can cause light brown or pink spotting to occur. Sometimes, the flow may even be red in color if spotting is heavier. In general, spotting will be quite light and will not even be enough to soak a sanitary napkin.

Unfortunately, spotting can also be a sign of a miscarriage. Luckily, spotting will often occur during a typical, healthy pregnancy. It can be due to irritation of the service, sexual intercourse or a pelvic exam. Spotting can also be a sign of a pregnancy if it is light brown or pink in color. For spotting to be a sign of implantation, it must occur within a few days of ovulation. If you think that your spotting is abnormal or are worried in any way, always make sure to make an appointment with your doctor or visit the emergency room to have your concerns addressed.

What Causes Implantation Bleeding to Happen?

Implantation bleeding is caused when the egg burrows into the lining of the uterus. It should be light, or the spotting may be an indication of a more serious problem. If there is something else responsible for the spotting, it could be one of the following medical conditions.

IUD: An IUD is a device that is inserted into the uterus. At times, an IUD can cause irregular bleeding, spotting or heavy bleeding.

Uterine Fibroids: Uterine fibroids are benign, non-cancerous growths within the uterus. While these growths are fairly common, they can cause the woman to bleed between her menstrual cycles.

PCOS: PCOS stands for polycystic ovary syndrome. Cysts form within the ovaries that affect the woman’s hormones. While it may not cause all symptoms of the syndrome, PCOS can cause excessive hair growth, weight gain, infertility issues and spotting. Women who have this medical condition may experience irregular periods, spotting, no periods at all or extremely light periods.

Cancer: Ovarian and cervical cancer can both cause vaginal bleeding.

Ovulation: Some women actually experience light spotting around ovulation with every or most periods. Sometimes, the follicle ruptures when it releases the egg and causes bleeding. If this is a normal ovulation symptom for the woman, she may not be able to tell the difference between ovulation-related bleeding and implantation bleeding.

PID: Known as pelvic inflammatory disease, PID can cause abnormal spotting or bleeding. This condition happens when the reproductive organs become infected. While it is easy to treat, the infection can spread to the uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries if it is untreated.

When spotting is caused by implantation or your normal period, it is generally nothing to worry about. There are serious medical conditions that can cause spotting, however, so you may want to visit your gynecologist if you are worried or if something happens that is out of the ordinary.

How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Normal Menstrual Cycle and Implantation Bleeding?

There are several ways that you can tell the difference between implantation bleeding and your normal period. The main differences are timing, flow, frequency and color.

Flow: In general, the bleeding will be extremely light during implantation. Women generally report just a tiny amount of pink or brown discharge on their underwear during implantation. Implantation will not look like your normal menstrual flow. If it does, you are experiencing a miscarriage, an early menstrual cycle or a serious health condition. Heavy implantation bleeding is extremely, extremely rare.

Timing: Implantation can only happen after ovulation, so the timing o your spotting can help to determine if it is implantation bleeding. Typically, implantation will take place 6 to 12 days after conception occurs. This means that it normally happens close to the time that the woman would normally have had her next period.

Frequency: While it can vary from woman to woman, implantation bleeding will often come and go. Spotting may happen for a few minutes, stop for a few hours and start again. While a period tends to keep going continuously, implantation bleeding rarely does that. If you have bleeding continuously for one or two days, you are probably just having your period.

Color: Bright red or dark red blood is normally a sign of your period. If the bleeding is light brown or pink, then it is probably just a sign of implantation. During implantation, it can take several hours or days for the blood to completely clear the body. During this time, the blood ages which can cause it to look brown. Red blood is generally fresher and has not had time to age, which means that you are most likely experiencing your normal period—even if it occurs too early or later than normal.

Keep in mind that it is highly unlikely that you are having implantation bleeding if you have not had sex in over a month.

Symptoms of Implantation and Early Pregnancy

Light Cramping: As the egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, it is normal to experience light cramping. In general, these cramps will be much lighter and less painful than the cramps that the woman normally experiences during her pregnancy.

Mood Swings: During early pregnancy, the woman’s hormones begin to fluctuate drastically. These hormonal changes can cause your mood to vacillate between super happy and crying in just minutes.

Fatigue: Many women feel exceptionally tired or fatigued during their first trimester. This fatigue can be made even worse if you have missed out on sleep or are experiencing higher levels of stress.

Bathroom Changes: As your body changes, you may suddenly find yourself having to urinate much more frequently. Pregnant women may also experience sudden, unexplained constipation.

Nausea: Morning sickness is one of the first signs of pregnancy, although it typically occurs after the woman has already had implantation bleeding. You may have a sudden aversion to certain scents, vomiting or severe nausea.

Breast Tenderness and Soreness: During the start of a pregnancy, the woman’s breast begin to undergo changes so that breast feeding will one day be possible. Increased blood flow goes to the breasts which makes veins more noticeable. At the same time, milk ducts begin to prepare for breast feeding. All of the changes in your breasts can cause them to feel swollen, sore, painful or tender.

When to Visit a Doctor

While light spotting is quite normal, it is possible that it could be a symptom of a more serious condition. Heavy bleeding, clots in the blood and severe cramps are often a sign of a miscarriage. This is especially true if you have already had a positive pregnancy test. A bladder infection or appendicitis could also cause cramping. In addition, an ectopic pregnancy could cause mild cramping or bleeding. If the ectopic pregnancy does not dissolve on its own, it can end up being fatal. If you have severe cramps or if minor cramps gradually become worse, it is extremely important to visit your doctor right away. When in doubt, always make an appointment to visit your doctor and make sure that nothing more serious is at fault.