Weeks before ultrasounds and pregnancy tests confirm that you’re expecting, your body will start going through certain changes as a result of your pregnancy. Morning sickness, fatigue, and increased smell sensitivity can all appear during this period. What’s more, just like a missed period might signal that you’re pregnant, bleeding can also be one of the early signs of pregnancy.
Approximately one-quarter of expectant mothers will experience implantation bleeding during the early days of their pregnancy. Because it typically occurs just days before the regular menstruation cycle, implantation bleeding can be easily confused with menstrual bleeding and cause a mix-up with estimate due dates. For this reason, it is important to know how to recognize the signs of implantation bleeding.
What Is Implantation Bleeding?
Implantation bleeding is a type of bleeding that occurs very early in pregnancy, usually within 10 to 14 days of conception. In some cases, it can appear a bit later, but it typically occurs within the first two months of pregnancy. As a rule, most pregnant women experience implantation bleeding around the time of their missed period, which is why the two are sometimes confused.
The bleeding is the direct result of the implantation process. After intercourse, a fertilized egg travels through your fallopian tube on its way to the womb. Once the egg is in the womb, it implants itself into the walls of the uterus, hence the name implantation. When this happens, tissues will start forming around the egg, which could cause irritation in the walls of the uterus.
This irritation will result in bleeding, causing blood to leak from your cervix. On the outside, this will be visible in the form of spotting. This spotting is known as implantation bleeding and is considered one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, revealing itself before you even realize that you have missed a period.
How Long Does Implantation Bleeding Last?
The question most women ask is how long does implementation bleeding last?
Implantation bleeding is typically very light and short, lasting for anywhere between 24 and 48 hours. In some cases, it can be barely noticeable and last for just a few hours. As a rule, the bleeding ends as soon as the fertilized egg is fully implanted into the wall of the uterus.
If the bleeding continues for longer than a few days, it might not be implantation bleeding at all. There are several other possible causes of bleeding during the first trimester of the pregnancy. These include infections and cervical changes, as well as the potentially very dangerous ectopic pregnancy. Whatever the cause, if the bleeding continues and/or intensifies, you should visit your doctor.
What Are the Signs of Implantation Bleeding?
Implantation bleeding usually manifests itself in two forms:
- Light spotting (i.e. bloody discharge that’s visible when you wipe)
- Consistent flow of blood that requires you to wear a liner
The blood associated with implantation bleeding is usually either brown or pink. The color varies based on how long the blood took to leave your body. For example, if the blood is fresh, it will appear as light red. If it’s older, it will look brown due to oxidation.
On its way out of the body, implantation blood might sometimes mix with vaginal discharge and/or cervical mucus. In that case, the spotting will appear as either pink or orange. Although implantation bleeding is usually harmless, you should keep track of the color of the discharge in case you decide to visit your doctor for a checkup.
Implantation bleeding usually coincides with other symptoms that occur early in the pregnancy. These typically include frequent urination, nausea, and fatigue. In addition, you may notice that your breasts have become swollen or tender due to a shift in hormones.
How Is Implantation Bleeding Different from Your Normal Period?
Most women decide to take a pregnancy test after they miss a period. However, implantation bleeding can sometimes be confused with a regular period, which is why some women don’t realize they’re pregnant until well into their second month. This is especially true for women who have a light flow.
There are a few ways to tell the difference between implantation bleeding and menstrual bleeding.
For one, your monthly period typically starts off light and then gets heavier for a day or two before becoming light again. On the other hand, implantation bleeding starts off light and doesn’t change the intensity throughout. Also, whereas menstrual bleeding easily fills a pad or a tampon, implantation bleeding doesn’t.
The two also differ in terms of color and consistency. With a regular period, the blood is watery, fresh, and bright red. On the other hand, implantation blood is usually not fresh and can be light pink, brown, or black. Both can be accompanied by cramping, but it’s usually more intense with a regular period.
Finally, you can tell the two apart based on how long the bleeding lasts. Whereas menstrual bleeding can go on uninterrupted for up to a week, implantation spotting is resolved within two or three days.
Is Implantation Bleeding a Cause for Concern?
Although bleeding during pregnancy should never be taken lightly, implantation bleeding is generally not considered a threat to you or your developing baby. If the bleeding/spotting occurs during the first two weeks of your pregnancy and doesn’t last for more than two or three days, you are highly unlikely to experience any other complications for the remainder of your pregnancy.
However, bleeding can sometimes occur after the implantation period, as well. This is usually caused by some irritation to the cervix, heavy lifting, or an undiagnosed vaginal infection. When this happens, you should inform your doctor about this and ask them for their opinion.
The Final Word
One in four women experience implantation bleeding during the first two weeks of their pregnancy. The problem is usually harmless and resolves itself within two or three days. If you notice the symptoms if implantation bleeding, you should buy a home pregnancy test or take one at your doctor’s office.
Although there are differences between menstrual and implantation bleeding, they may sometimes be difficult to spot. If you think your bleeding and/or spotting are implantation-related, you should immediately schedule an appointment with your doctor. Keep track of the color, consistency, and frequency of the discharge and share the information with your doctor to help them determine the right diagnosis.