Implantation bleeding, or is just your normal period? If you’re hoping for a pregnancy, light bleeding or spotting can be frustrating and confusing, but what you’re experiencing may actually be implantation bleeding, an early sign of pregnancy. There’s a fine line between spotting and a period, so knowing the difference between the two is important.
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Implantation Bleeding or Period? Understanding the Difference
Implantation bleeding occurs when a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. When the egg attaches, some women will experience very light bleeding as the lining of the uterus sheds. Typically, it appears as a pink or brown discharge.
There are several things to look for when trying to determine if you’re experiencing implantation bleeding or your normal period.
The primary difference between implantation bleeding and menstruation is the flow. Bleeding caused by implantation is very light and will stay light. For many women, menstruation starts off light and gets heavier over time. Bleeding from implantation will not cause blood clots like normal menstruation.
Heavy bleeding is not normally associated with implantation. Bleeding caused by implantation is almost always light, so heavier bleeding is either menstruation or a miscarriage.
Simply put, implantation bleeding is very light and stays light. If the consistency of the flow gets heavier, you are likely getting your period.
- Discharge or light bleeding that is brown or pink in color may be a sign of implantation. Red blood is a sign of menstruation.
- In rare cases, implantation blood is a light red color. This indicates that the blood has just been shed from the uterine lining.
- Brown blood is older blood that may have been stuck in your uterus after the egg implanted itself. Most women report seeing brownish smelly blood during implantation.
It’s important to note that women rarely experience red blood with implantation. It takes time for the blood to move out of the body, which causes the blood to age and turn a brownish color. Some women may even experience dark brown blood.
Menstruation and implantation bleeding can both cause cramping and pain. Menstrual cramps are generally more intense than cramps caused by implantation. If you are experiencing light or faint cramps that never increase in intensity and light pink or brown discharge, this is a good indication of implantation bleeding.
Why does implantation cause cramping? The fertilized egg burrows and attaches itself to the uterine lining, which can cause the uterine muscles to contract. When these contractions occur, they can pinch the nerve endings and cause pain that feels similar to menstrual cramps. Cramps may last a few hours, or a few days.
Is the bleeding on and off, or consistent? With implantation bleeding, spotting will come and go. During menstruation, the bleeding will continue throughout the full duration of your period (typically 4-7 days).
Bleeding from implantation will generally last for one to two days, but some women may experience spotting for a longer or shorter period of time. Every woman and pregnancy is different, so the length of bleeding can vary from one woman to the next.
For some women, bleeding will only last a few hours before it stops. Other women will experience spotting on and off for two to four days.
Are you experiencing other symptoms in conjunction with bleeding? Emotional changes, bloating, mood swings and fatigue can also be signs of early pregnancy.
Other signs of early pregnancy include:
- Sore or tender breasts
- Frequent urination
- Missed period
Some women may also experience these symptoms with their monthly menstrual cycle, so a pregnancy test may be the only way to confirm that you are experiencing implantation bleeding.
Should You Take a Pregnancy Test?
If you are experiencing spotting or brown vaginal discharge, it may be a sign of implantation. If you suspect that you might be pregnant, you may take a home pregnancy test the day of your missed period or a few days before if you are using an early detection test.
Only one third of women experience bleeding with implantation, so while it’s not abnormal, it’s not as common as other signs of early pregnancy. A home pregnancy test or a visit with your doctor can help you confirm whether you are experiencing is implantation bleeding or menstruation.