While planning for pregnancy, bleeding seen around the time of your actual menstrual date could be disheartening. But it can be implantation bleeding, too, which is a good thing.
Vaginal bleeding that occurs during the menstrual cycle and pregnancy can be divided into three types, namely,
Ovulation Bleeding - When there is a release of an egg from the ovary, a light spotting is seen, which is called ovulation bleeding. It usually happens around the mid-cycle on the 14th day.
Menstrual Bleeding - When the released egg is not fertilized by the sperm, it breaks down, resulting in menstruation which is usually moderate to heavy bleeding. It occurs around the 28th day in a regular 28-day cycle.
Implantation Bleeding - If the egg released during ovulation is fertilized by the sperm and is implanted onto the uterine wall, it produces implantation bleeding. It occurs between the 20th and 24th days of a typical 28-day menstrual cycle.
The implantation of the fertilized egg on the uterine wall produces slight vaginal bleeding. It usually occurs around the time of menstruation which people assume to be regular periods. In the case of implantation bleeding, the amount of blood that comes out is very minimal. It actually serves as an indicator of pregnancy. However, not all women experience it, and only one-fourth of women who get pregnant undergo implantation bleeding.
Ovulation (release of an egg from the ovary) usually occurs in the mid-cycle. After the egg is released from the ovary, it usually waits for a day or two for fertilization to take place. When the sperm reaches the egg during those days, the egg and sperm fuse together in the process called fertilization. After 10 days to 14 days of fertilization, the fertilized egg implants itself into the uterine wall. As a result, there is a breakage of blood vessels present on the wall of the uterus, which causes implantation bleeding.
Of the very few identifiable, early pregnancy symptoms, implantation bleeding is an important one. The accompanying signs may be helpful to differentiate between the actual menstruation and implantation bleeding. Although the signs may be similar to that of premenstrual symptoms, the intensity of the pain is less than a regular period.
The following are the accompanying early pregnancy symptoms:
Mild abdominal cramps.
Lower back pain.
Tenderness of breasts.
Implantation bleeding usually lasts only for about two hours to three hours. With some, it can be present for three full days. When you have been sexually active, and your menstrual cycle lasted less than three days with no or minimal abdominal cramps and not much bleeding, there are chances for it to be implantation bleeding. However, suppose you have dark or bright red bleeding like you usually get on menstruation for more than three days. In that case, the chances of it being implantation bleeding are significantly less. The implantation bleeding is less likely to occur in people who have already had an egg attachment. In contrast, women in their first pregnancy have an increased chance of implantation bleeding.
The amount of menstrual bleeding differs for every woman. Despite the difference in the flow of menstrual bleeding, the following are the key differences that help distinguish implantation bleeding from actual menstruation.
In the case of menstrual bleeding, there will be the presence of blood clots, although the amount of blood clots present differs. When it comes to implantation bleeding, there should not be any blood clots.
2. Color of Bleeding:
Bright to dark red is the color of the menstrual bleeding, while implantation bleeding has a light pink to dark brown color.
The term 'implantation bleeding' is a misnomer because in terms of implantation bleeding, there is only slight spotting. There is no actual bleeding as seen in menstruation. The spotting can either be intermittent or constant but with a light flow.
Since both implantation and menstruation occur about 10 days to 14 days after the release of egg or ovulation, the time of implantation bleeding or menstrual bleeding is almost similar. Implantation bleeding is usually expected in the week of the actual menstruation date.
Implantation bleeding is not a cause for concern for the developing fetus and usually results in a healthy pregnancy. However, it is not normal if there is spotting or heavy bleeding for a few days after your missed periods. Immediate medical attention with a gynecologist is a must.
In addition to the above-mentioned key features, implantation bleeding can be confirmed by taking a pregnancy test. When pregnancy occurs, the amount of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) increases in the body, which is detected in urine with the help of a urine pregnancy test. Since implantation bleeding is an indicator of pregnancy, taking a home pregnancy test after three to five days of your missed periods helps confirm it.
The sight of vaginal bleeding can be upsetting. However, if it turns out to be implantation bleeding, the chances of pregnancy are high. Try taking a home pregnancy test to confirm pregnancy after three to five days of missing your periods. Not planning for pregnancy, then implantation bleeding signals you to reach out to a healthcare provider to find the best possible solution. It is also recommended to seek the consultation of your treating doctor when you experience bleeding days after your missed period to avoid any complications.
Last reviewed at:
31 Mar 2022 - 4 min read
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