If you want to get pregnant, one of the first signs that you may have conceived is implantation bleeding. Unfortunately, it is not always clear if you have experienced implantation or if your menstrual cycle is about to begin. Since menstrual cycles can vary up to a week every month (even if your period is normally very regular), it is always possible that the spotting that you are experiencing is just a sign of your period. To tell if it is implantation bleeding or your period, you first have to consider the timing.
When Does Implantation Bleeding Occur?
The timing of implantation bleeding varies from woman to woman, much like your menstrual cycle may vary. In general, implantation occurs about 10 to 14 days after you ovulate. Basically, the egg travels down to the Fallopian tube and becomes fertilized. If it has been fertilized, it burrows into the wall of the uterus. When this happens, a slight amount of the uterine wall is shed where the egg attaches, which causes spotting. Every woman is different though, so implantation may occasionally occur outside of the 10 to 14 day estimate.
Roughly one out of three women will experience implantation bleeding, so do not be surprised if you never experience it. If you do have implantation bleeding, it will last for a very short period of time and be much, much lighter than your normal period. If you are experiencing heavy bleeding or bleeding like you normally would during your period, then it is not from implantation. While implantation bleeding will normally last for just a few hours, it can last for a couple of days as well.
At this point, your body does not have enough hCG to cause early pregnancy symptoms. If spotting occurs along with fatigue and back pain, then you are just experiencing an early or late period.
How Implantation Cramps Work
Mild to moderate cramping may occur when implantation happens. This is because the egg is implanting itself on the uterine wall. Even if you do not experience implantation bleeding, you may experience a few cramps during implantation. Your uterus has to stretch to accommodate the fetus, so you may experience cramps or discomfort during the process.
Implantation cramps will generally occur a week or more before your next period is supposed to start. Some women experience these cramps and light spotting, and they believe that it is a sign that their period is about to start. The best way to tell the difference is to chart your period so that you know if your cramps are occurring far too soon or too late to be your actual period.
Why Does Implantation Bleeding Occur?
Implantation bleeding happens because the uterine lining is disturbed by the egg. Normally, the entire lining of the uterus is shed every month for your menstrual cycle, which causes bleeding. During implantation, the only part of the uterine lining that is shed is the small part that the egg attaches to.
I Think That I Have Implantation Bleeding. Now What?
Implantation bleeding is the first sign that you might be pregnant. Since only 33 percent of women actually experience implantation bleeding, it is not a guarantee that you are actually pregnant. Implantation takes place too early for a home pregnancy test, so your only option is to wait a few more days to take a home pregnancy test. As the placenta forms and produces hCG, a home pregnancy test will be able to tell if you are actually pregnant or not.
Ideally, you should wait until the day after your missed period to take a pregnancy test. If you take it too soon, you may get a false negative that is not accurate. Once you have taken a pregnancy test, your next step is to schedule a visit to your doctor. Your doctor will be able to check on the status of your pregnancy, give you a blood test to confirm the pregnancy and recommend any prenatal vitamins that you should be taking.
If your implantation bleeding is dark, heavy or extremely painful, you may just be getting your period. If these symptoms are out of line with your normal menstrual cycle, you will want to talk to your doctor to make sure that you have not had a miscarriage or another problem.