What Is Implantation Bleeding? (5 Ways to Distinguish Period From Spotting)

If you’re trying to get pregnant, you may feel defeated or disappointed at the sight of pink or brown spotting just before your period. While it may be a sign that your period is about to start, it may also be implantation bleeding; a sign that you are actually pregnant. It can be difficult to tell the difference between the two, especially if you’re attempting to get pregnant for the first time. The flow, timing and color of the blood will help you determine whether you’re about to get your period, or if you might be experiencing implantation bleeding.

What is Implantation Bleeding?

Implantation BleedingOne of the earliest signs of pregnancy, implantation bleeding occurs 6-12 days after the egg is fertilized. Roughly 1/3 of women will experience bleeding after implantation. Many women mistake this light spotting for their period, but it’s much lighter and only lasts a few hours or days.

After an egg is fertilized, it travels to the uterus and attaches to its lining. When the egg burrows into the wall of the uterus, it can cause some minor bleeding. This type of light spotting will not harm the baby, and the majority of women who experience implantation bleeding will go on to have healthy, normal pregnancies.

In most cases, bleeding caused by implantation will be either brown or light pink in color. The flow is very light and will only last a short amount of time. Some women will also experience some cramping as well. Bleeding will come and go, and be very light.

Because the bleeding occurs just days after conception, it’s one of the first signs of pregnancy women notice – well ahead of morning sickness.

Okay, if you want a quick answer – just check out the implantation bleeding quiz to find out if you got a baby.

What is Spotting?

Spotting refers to the light bleeding that sometimes occurs in between periods or during pregnancy. Implantation spotting occurs when the fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the uterus. In most cases, spotting is either light brown or pink in color. Heavier spotting may be red. The flow is very light; not enough to soak a sanitary napkin.

Spotting may be a sign of a miscarriage, but it can also occur during a healthy pregnancy. Having sex during your pregnancy, pelvic exams and irritation of the cervix can cause spotting.

Is spotting a sign of pregnancy? Spotting can sometimes be a sign of pregnancy. If the blood is brown or pink in color and it appears days after ovulation, it may be implantation spotting, or bleeding.

While spotting is usually normal, you may consider calling your doctor if you are concerned about the flow or color of the blood.

What Causes Implantation Bleeding?Spotting

Spotting can be caused by a variety of things; some harmless, and others more serious. Some of the most common causes of spotting (aside from implantation) include:

  1. Ovulation: Many women experience spotting in the middle of their cycles during ovulation. When the follicle ruptures and releases the egg, bleeding might occur.
  2. Uterine fibroids: Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors that grow on the uterus, and can cause bleeding in between periods.
  3. PID: PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) can cause abnormal bleeding or spotting. PID is an infection that affects the reproductive organs, including the fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus.
  4. PCOS: PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is caused by a hormonal imbalance that interferes with ovulation. Women with this condition experience irregular periods, or no periods at all. Occasionally, they may experience spotting or very light periods.
  5. IUD: An Intrauterine Device, or IUD, can cause spotting and irregular or heavy bleeding.
  6. Infections: Certain STDs can cause spotting in between periods.
  7. Cancers: Vaginal bleeding can sometimes be associated with cervical or ovarian cancer.

If your spotting is caused by your period or implantation, then what you’re experiencing is likely no cause for concern. However, if you know you’re not pregnant and are not expecting your period, see your gynecologist to rule out any serious health conditions.

Here are a few FAQs that help you to know a bit more:

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.

Implantation Bleeding or Period? 5 Ways to Understand 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.

1.Flow

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.

2.Color

  • 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.

3.Cramping

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.

4.Consistency

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.

5.Other Implantation Symptoms

Implantation may also be accompanied by other symptoms, including:

  • Spotting instead of period
  • Light cramping

Some women will experience cramping as the egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. However, these cramps are usually much lighter and milder than the pain women experience during their period.

When cramping and light spotting is accompanied by other symptoms of early pregnancy, it may be time to see your doctor, or take a home pregnancy test.

Other early pregnancy symptoms include:

  • Nausea: Morning sickness is one of the first signs of pregnancy that women notice. An aversion to certain smells, nausea and vomiting are common.
  • Fatigue: Most women feel unusually fatigued during the first trimester. This level of fatigue is much more intense than what you may experience if you’re just lacking sleep or overly stressed.
  • Breast soreness or tenderness: In the early stages of pregnancy, a woman’s breasts undergo many changes. The increased blood flow to the breasts makes its veins more noticeable, and its milk ducts are growing in preparation of breastfeeding later on. All of these changes can cause your breasts to feel sore, tender or swollen.
  • Change in bathroom habits: During pregnancy, a woman’s body is constantly changing, and these changes can have an effect on your bathroom habits. Pregnancy can cause frequent urination and constipation. If you cannot find an explanation for your increased urination and sudden constipation, you may be pregnant.
  • Mood swings: A woman’s body undergoes some major hormonal changes during pregnancy. These changes can impact your mood, causing you to feel happy one minute and crying the next.

When to See a Doctor

While spotting and light bleeding can be perfectly normal, it may also be a symptom of a more serious health condition.

Implantation SymptomsMiscarriage

If you think you might be pregnant or have a confirmed pregnancy and experience heavy bleeding, you may be having a miscarriage. As mentioned previously, heavy bleeding is generally not associated with implantation, so you may be having an early miscarriage. If you are further along in your pregnancy, seek medical attention right away. The further along the pregnancy is, the more complicated the miscarriage may be.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Some women may experience mild cramping during implantation but when those cramps persist or intensify over time, it’s important to see a doctor. Worsening cramps that are not associated with your normal monthly period may be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy.

Other Medical Conditions

If the pain continues, becomes more intense and you know that you are not pregnant, the cramping may be a sign of another medical condition.

A bladder infection and appendicitis are just two of the many health conditions that can cause cramps. If the pain is accompanied by chills, fever or very heavy bleeding, see your doctor immediately.

When to Take a Pregnancy Test

Top 3 Tests ComparisonIf you’re engaging in unprotected sex and are experiencing light spotting right around the time of your period, you may be pregnant. If you’re also experiencing other signs of early pregnancy and your period is late, consider taking a pregnancy test or seeing your doctor to confirm your pregnancy.

Remember, implantation bleeding is light in flow, pink or brown in color and short in duration. If bleeding gets heavier and lasts more than a few days, your period has likely started. However, if the bleeding stops, was very light, and your period does not start, you may be pregnant and should get tested as soon as possible.

 

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23 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Is it possible to get implementation bleeding exactly after a period?
    I was on my periods 2 weeks ago and stopped , exactly 3 days after there’s been pink and brown discharge coming out , sometimes with brown flakes.again I’m getting cramps but they come and go.
    should I be worried?
    should I

  • I’ve had light spotting brown in color for FIVE days now. It started 9 days before my expected period and 7 days after ovulation. Light cramping on and off – it feels different than period cramps but that could be wishful thinking. Oh, and I cried in front of my boss the other day – for no reason! I got a negative pregnancy test this morning, 5 days before my period. Very confused…

    • You should test after your missed period. I know your comment is a couple of weeks old but did you ever get some good news?! I’ve been spotting brown then light pink, and now back to spotting brown and my period is due in 2 days. I’m trying to hold out on testing till after my period is due, at least 3 days afterwards. Let me know PLEASE!

  • I am experiancing spotting of pink color of 19th day after finishing my period we had intercourse during ovulation timing but dont have cramps. M very confuse about this spotting what should I do?

  • I had my period last month on the 25 of July. My period only lasted two days, which isn’t normal. I noticed white/pink discharge when I wipe. It’s lasted for two days now. There’s a chance I could be pregnant. I took a test today and it came back negative. Anyone have any ideas what’s going on?

  • Im having some brown spotting going on now for 3days now and and I took a pregnancy test yesterday and came back positive, then I had my blood drawn today and my level was high 26.5 is this still implantation bleeding or miscarriage. Im very worried

  • My feionce and I have been trying for a bit now and the pass 2 days when I wipe I get nothing but when u look in the toilet there has been spots about the size of pin head and seem solid. It does not hurt when I pee either. My period due sometime this week. Could this just be the precurser to implantation or what. I have not taken a test yet but Monday I have a doctors appointment.

  • I have brown spotting, and just got my period back off the depo shot. I got my “period” 3 times in maybe 3 weeks. Is this normal for first getting your period, after the shot wears off, or could it be spotting ????

  • My husband and I started trying in August for baby #2. I bought an ovulation kit this time because I was nursing earlier this year and did not get my first period back until mid June. My periods are still irregular and are 35-39 days. I took a digital pregnancy test on Sunday (10/2) and it said “yes”. I decided to take a clear blue test just to see how far I am and this time it came back “not pregnant”. I took several other tests (I know I shouldn’t have but it’s so hard to wait) and out of 6-7, one more came back as a VERY faint positive. I called my doctor and I got blood work done on Monday (2 days ago) and it came back as a 9. Anything 6 or under is negative. So, I was shocked that I was slightly above. They want me to go back today (48 hours later) to see if my HCG levels go up. However, in the mean time, last night I started to spot light pink and then dark brown this morning. I have a pad on and it’s starting to get heavier and now more red. I’m wondering if I am truly not pregnant and if it is just my period..? It’s just weird that my HCG level is registering as pregnant? I know the chances are very slim, but could it be implantation bleeding? or an early miscarriage? I’m assuming it’s just my period, which stinks. I am still going in to do my blood work today just to have piece of mind. Thanks for anyone’s help in advance! Sorry for the novel!

  • i had a light spotting on Monday being the 23rd of my period with lasted for few hours… could it be implantation bleeding??

  • i had a light spotting on Monday being the 23rd day of my period which lasted for few hours…. could this be implantation bleeding??

  • I dont feel pregnant thou am having some light bleeding brown in colour.comes only wen am walking and doesnt come at nyt totally.had sex in sept n nw its oct n still no periods jhus bleeding n its on and off.plz hlp m out

  • Am having 28 days cycle and my last period should be 4th Oct, which I did not see dat day. And av done home urine test d day after my actual period which is positive but I am seeing blood on my underwear today , which is a little bit much. pls am I still pregnant?

  • I’m late for my period by a week, I’ve been experiencing pregnancy symptoms; bloating, always needing to pee, throwing up, tired, boobs are sore. I went to the doctor and done a test and it came back negative, yesterday I started spitting brown stuff and that was on and off. Now it’s turned to a reddy colour, but not heavy like a normal period. Is there a chance I’m pregnant?!?

  • I’ve had the mirena for about four and a half years now and have consistently gotten my period like clock work every month. I’m over two weeks late for my period and after sex, I was very lightly bleeding which usually means I got my period but then it stoped by the next time I went to the bathroom. In the morning, there was very faint blood when I wiped and it was a light pink. Then it completely stopped and i still haven’t started. i don’t have many symptoms of pregnancy but I have a couple and my at home pregnancy test came back negative. Anyone else experience this? Am pregnant?

  • My BF and I have been trying to conceive. My ovulation day was the 17 of November. I started spotting on the 17th. It is not the 22nd and the bleeding is red but not enough to soak a maxi pad. Should I be concerned?? Does this mean I could possibly still have implantation bleeding?? Please give me some insight or information. Thank you all that reply

  • Hi, I’m one week late for my period and tested negative on the pregnancy kit. Today I experiencing spotting and cramp. My last unprotected sex was 9 days ago. Could I be pregnant ?

  • I started having pink bleeding… Not heavy just light since last night , Friday Dec 2… And today Dec 3.. It hasn’t gotten heavy its about the same
    with some lining in the toilet. Sorry tmi. Is this implantation or ? I took two test Friday and they were negative. I had unprotected sex a week ago.. Is it possible to b pregnant this soon?

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