When you have sudden cramps, it can be difficult to tell if your period is about to start or if you are having implantation cramps. While a couple of cramps could be a sign of implantation, it is also possible that you are experiencing PMS symptoms or another health-related problem. By tracking when your cramps occur, how painful they are and how long they last, you can decide if you are experiencing early signs of your menstrual cycle starting or implantation.
What Do Implantation Cramps Feel Like?
When implantation happens, you may feel some cramps. As a pregnancy unfolds, your uterus must grow to make room for the fetus. When this happens, it can cause cramps or a slight amount of back pain. As a rule, implantation cramps last for just five minutes or less. At most, they may continue for up to two days. For the majority of women, these cramps will be less frequent and less painful than their normal menstrual cramps.
These cramps happen when the fertilized egg implants itself onto the wall of the uterus. This can cause a slight amount of pain in the lower abdomen. If the cramps are from your period, then they are caused by the uterus contracting to shed the lining of the uterus. PMS-related cramps will generally stop once your period begins, or they may continue during your menstrual cycle if you typically have more painful periods.
Do Cramps Mean That You Are Pregnant?
Do not assume that a few cramps mean that you are pregnant. Typically, implantation causes few to no cramps. The egg is extremely small at this point in development, so many women never experience cramps during implantation. The only way that you can know for sure if you are pregnant or not is to take a pregnancy test. You can also wait to see if you experience other signs that you may be pregnant. Cramps do not mean that you are pregnant, and they could be caused by PMS, digestive-related problems or other health issues.
When Does Implantation Cramping Happen?
The timing of your cramps may indicate if it is a part of implantation or not. In general, it takes about 6 to 12 days for the egg to travel to the uterus and implant itself in the uterine wall. If your cramps occur within this space of time, then it may be implantation cramping. Likewise, cramps that occur close to your next menstrual period are most likely related to PMS.
How Do Implantation Cramps Feel?
Normally, implantation cramps will feel like a slight pulling or pricking sensation in your lower abdomen. For most women, these cramps will occur about a week before your period is expected to start. Some women may have occasional cramps that last on and off for several days, while other women only have a single episode of implantation cramps.
If your implantation cramps are fairly painful, you can try using meditation or yoga to relieve the pain. Since implantation cramps mean that you are pregnant, you do not want to take painkillers for these cramps. Focus on getting plenty of rest and drinking extra fluids. If you ever experience severe cramping during pregnancy or cramps that last for multiple days, you should immediately visit your doctor. While severe cramps could be a sign that your uterus is growing or you are experiencing flatulence, they could also indicate a urinary tract infection, miscarriage, preeclampsia, preterm labor or a placental abruption. When in doubt, always talk to your doctor first.
What Are Other Symptoms of Implantation and Early Pregnancy?
Other than implantation cramping, women may experience a number of other pregnancy symptoms. When the egg burrows into the uterine wall, it can cause some of the lining to shed. Due to this, about 30 percent of women experience light spotting or bleeding when they are pregnant. It should only cause a small amount of blood to be shed, and this will occur about 6 to 12 days after implantation. Since this small amount of blood has to travel through the body, it will normally look light brown or pink in color. You may also experience early pregnancy symptoms like nausea, frequent urination, mood swings, food cravings and fatigue. In a few days, you will miss your period if you are pregnant.
When Should You Take a Pregnancy Test?
Even when you have experienced implantation bleeding and symptoms like nausea, you cannot assume that you are pregnant or not for sure. The only way to know for sure is to take a pregnancy test. Unfortunately, it may take a few days until a pregnancy test will actually show if you are pregnant or not. A pregnancy test shows the level of hCG in your body, which is produced when you are pregnant.
Pregnancy tests can have sensitivities that range from 10 mIU/mL to 40 mIU/mL. If the pregnancy test initially shows a negative result, wait a few days to take it again. Your hCG levels will typically double every three days, so waiting just a few more days could ensure that the pregnancy test is accurate. While the sensitivity levels vary, most pregnancy tests will be accurate a day before you miss your period.
Keep in mind that false negatives can and do happen. This occurs because your body does not have enough hCG for the test to pick up. False positives are exceptionally, exceptionally rare, so you are pregnant if you receive a positive result on the test.
Do You Have to Take a Pregnancy Test?
If you are experiencing cramping right before, during or after your period, you probably are not pregnant. Likewise, if you have a history of medical problems like IBS, the cramps may be from another cause. If you do think that you may be pregnant, go ahead and take a pregnancy test. You can easily buy one at any dollar store (and these ones are actually just as good as many more expensive brands), so it is fairly cheap to find out.
If you are pregnant, congratulations! The next step is to make an appointment with your doctor for a prenatal check up. If you are not pregnant, you may still want to go to your doctor to figure out why you are having cramps in the middle of the month.