Could those cramps be a sign of implantation, or is your period on its way? While cramping can be a sign of implantation, it could also be a symptom of something else, such as PMS. Paying close attention to the timing of the cramping and how long the pain lasts can help you determine if what you are experiencing is PMS or possible implantation.
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What Does Implantation Cramping Feel Like?
When implantation causes cramping, the feeling may be similar to the cramps you normally get right before your period begins. For most women, however, the pain is milder and infrequent.
Implantation cramps generally last five minutes or less, and may last up to two days. Cramping associated with PMS is ongoing pain that only ceases when your period begins, or for some women, the second day of menstruation.
When the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, it can cause pain in the lower abdomen. Cramping associated with your period will be caused by the uterus contracting to shed its lining.
When Does Implantation Cramping Normally Occur?
If you’re experiencing cramping and aren’t sure if your period or implantation is to blame, the timing may give you the answer.
First, it’s important to note that not all women experience cramping when the egg attaches itself to the uterine lining.
Those who do experience cramping will notice the pain occurring between 6 and 12 days after ovulation. If you’re experiencing cramping after ovulation, there is a chance that implantation has occurred. However, if these cramps are occurring close to or on the day of your next expected period, PMS is the likely cause.
Does Cramping Mean That You Are Pregnant?
Not necessarily. When implantation occurs, some women will experience a light pulling or pricking sensation. Some will experience faint cramps that are similar to the cramps they get during their periods. The cause of the cramping is the melting of the mucous membrane at the implantation site.
Because the egg is so tiny and its attachment does not cause the uterus to contract, most women do not experience cramping on the day of implantation. That being said, cramps can be associated with implantation, but this is not a sufficient sign of pregnancy. A home pregnancy test can verify if your cramps are related to implantation, or you can wait to see if you experience any other signs of early pregnancy.
Other Symptoms of Implantation and Pregnancy
Along with cramping, some women may also experience other symptoms when implantation occurs.
Light bleeding or spotting is the most common symptom, and occurs in roughly 30% of pregnancies. Once fertilized, the egg will burrow itself into the lining of the uterus, which causes some of the lining to shed. Because only a small amount of blood is shed and it takes some time for it to travel through the body, the blood usually appears as light brown or pink in color. Spotting is very light, and will usually occur 6-12 days after conception.
In the early stages of pregnancy, you may also feel other symptoms, including fatigue, mood swings, nausea, food cravings and frequent urination. A missed period is one of the first definitive symptoms of pregnancy.
What Causes Cramps After a Period?
What if you experience cramps after your period? Could this be a sign of implantation, or something else? This can be a difficult question to answer as every woman’s cycle is unique.
The first and most obvious cause is ovulation. Many women experience some cramping or mild pain during ovulation. However, these cramps should only last a day or two at most. Pain is typically in the lower abdomen, and on either the right or left side.
Pain associated with ovulation is known as mittelschmerz, which is German for “pain in the middle”. When women experience cramping or pain after their period, it is most likely caused by ovulation. Ovulation occurs right after a woman’s period and in the second phase of her monthly cycle.
Another cause of the cramps could be swelling in the fallopian tubes. Congestion of mucus can cause the fallopian tubes to swell and cause pain. Generally, this type of cramping would occur a few days before ovulation begins when mucus is being excreted.
Pulsation of the fallopian tubes can also cause cramping. This can occur when the tubes are attempting to move the egg down into the uterus.
Blood could also be the cause of the pain. In some women, a small amount of blood is shed during ovulation when the ovarian follicle ruptures. Because the abdominal lining is very sensitive to bleeding, pain is an automatic reaction.
Is a Pregnancy Test Necessary?
If you are experiencing cramping right after your period, it is unlikely that you are pregnant (although not impossible). In this case, the cramping is likely caused by ovulation.
How can you tell if you are ovulating? One of the most obvious signs is the appearance of long, white, sticky mucous. If you have been tracking your basal body temperature, you will also see a rise in your temperature by roughly 0.4 degrees.
On the other hand, if the cramps occur 6-12 days after ovulation, it may be a sign of implantation. Remember, cramps caused by implantation will be faint, inconsistent and may last a few hours to a few days. If the cramps are continuous and accompanied by bleeding that soaks a sanitary pad, it is likely a sign of PMS. If you experience heavy bleeding that soaks a sanitary pad every hour for three hours or more, see your doctor right away. An underlying health condition may to blame.
The timing of the cramps and the severity of the pain will ultimately be the determining factor in whether or not your cramps are caused by implantation, menstruation or something else entirely.
Implantation cramping is not a common symptom of early pregnancy. Only a pregnancy test can verify whether or not you are pregnant. If the cramping is associated with light spotting and other pregnancy symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible to confirm you pregnancy and begin prenatal care.