Bleeding is an early sign that I’m pregnant? Seriously?! Yep, it really is. Getting pregnant is often marked with what is known as implantation bleeding.
And we’re going to let you in on when implantation bleeding happens, why it happens, and how long to expect it to last
Implantation bleeding is confusing.
Because it has to do with pregnancy and things pregnancy-related tend to be on the confusing side.
Implantation bleeding can happen for a variety of reasons, so linking it to a definite source is always a little tricky.
Having said that, implantation bleeding can indeed be one of the earliest signs of mamahood—and the more you know about the whats, the whens, and the hows, the easier it is to work out if that is indeed what you’re experiencing.
That’s why we chatted with embryologist and fertility expert, Navya Muralidhar, to get the full low-down on implantation bleeding, to help put your mind at ease.
In this article: 📝
- What is implantation bleeding?
- How do I know if this is implantation bleeding?
- When does implantation bleeding occur?
- What implantation bleeding feels like
- How long does implantation bleeding last?
- Implantation bleeding FAQs
What is implantation bleeding?
Also referred to as implantation spotting, implantation bleeding is light bleeding from the vagina that occurs when a fertilized egg (aka an embryo) decides to make your uterus its home.
By this stage, the embryo has been on an exciting journey through your fallopian tube, multiplying itself into a collection of cells called a blastocyst.
Once in your uterus, it does some house hunting near the fundus before finding a place to settle in the uterine lining for the next 9 months or so.
It implants itself—and it’s this that may cause some bleeding.
This is due to the fact that the embryo invades and reconstructs the maternal arteries to ensure blood flow within the mother and the growing fetus.
So, implantation bleeding is a totally normal bodily response and, in most cases, nothing to worry about.
That’s all well and good, except for the fact that it’s not like bleeding doesn’t happen every month anyway and call itself a period.
So, if you’re trying to get pregnant (or trying to avoid getting pregnant) the appearance of a little blood might leave you feeling like, “C’mon, body! Could you give me a better clue than that?!”.
How much do you bleed during implantation?
How much bleeding can you expect with implantation spotting?
Well, it’s typically not that much.
Most women who experience implantation bleeding see a little blood that can last anywhere from a couple of hours to a day.
Other women may see a little blood mixed with discharge ‒ that’s totally normal, too.
Some women don’t see any implantation bleeding at all ‒ again, that can be a perfectly normal thing to happen early in pregnancy.
There are even some women who experience heavy implantation bleeding with clots.
Heavy implantation bleeding can be an early sign of pregnancy loss, but it may also not be a sign of pregnancy loss.
As we said before, implantation bleeding can be confusing.
How do I know if this is implantation bleeding?
Because implantation bleeding can bear a striking resemblance to the early stages of your period, telling the difference may be a little tricky.
While it’s difficult to know for sure, if you suspect implantation bleeding (as in the timing feels pretty accurate), don’t write it off as a regular ol’ period.
How to recognize implantation bleeding
Here are some of the factors that may help you do the detective work in the battle of implantation bleeding vs period:
- Spotting rather than heavy flow: Implantation bleeding is typically rather light. (Of course, some periods are always light so this is not necessarily a differentiator anyway. Who said this was going to be easy?) In many cases, however, implantation bleeding looks more like spotting than a full-on period. (If, on the other hand, you are experiencing very heavy bleeding and this is not the norm for you, don’t wait to check in with your doc. This could be a sign of complications like molar or ectopic pregnancies or an early miscarriage. Always a good idea to get in touch sooner rather than later.)
- Courteous cramps: Another way the implantation bleeding alarm bells like to sound is with some short, sweet cramps—different from the agonizingly long, straight-from-hell cramps that may typically accompany your period. (Again, different bodies, different cramps.)
- Pretty in pinkish-brown: Implantation bleeding can often have more of a pinkish-brownish hue. Period blood usually becomes more crimson red in color. Also, if you notice clots (essentially your tissue) in the blood, this is probably your regular period.
- Totally non-committal: Implantation bleeding is pretty flakey. In that it comes and goes, it’s on-and-off, it’s here-and-there. Your period, however? Well, usually at least, it wants you to know that it’s there and (in many cases) gets stronger as it goes.
The great news is, we have a world full of experts who specialize in this very thing—so if you suspect pregnancy or are not sure, or you’re worried about what feels like an excessive amount of implantation bleeding, call your healthcare provider.
Implantation bleeding vs period
As we mentioned before, implantation bleeding and periods can look pretty similar.
So it makes perfect sense to be frantically Googling “implantation bleeding or period” hoping for answers.
We’re sorry to say that there’s no quick way to find out if it’s your period or implantation bleeding.
What are the signs of successful implantation?
Curious about the symptoms of implantation bleeding?
Well, aside from the obvious (the actual implantation bleeding), there are a few other symptoms of implantation bleeding:
- Tender breasts: As your estrogen levels start to increase, your breasts might get a little sore or tingly.
- Bloating: Feeling full even though you’ve not eaten today yet? Bloating could be another of the symptoms of implantation bleeding.
- Smells: Your nose might start picking up on more subtle smells ‒ some smells might even make you feel sick, which brings us to…
- Nausea: Feeling nauseated around implantation can be pretty common ‒ the start of morning sickness (although it tends to happen any time of the day).
- Fatigue: Your bed might be calling to you a lot more around your implantation bleeding. After all, your body’s starting to work overtime, creating new life, so fatigue is totally natural!
- Frequent urination: Rushing to the bathroom to pee what seems like every few minutes? That could well be one of the other symptoms of implantation bleeding.
- Feeling hot, hot, hot: While you might not actually feel much warmer, if you’re tracking your BBT (basal body temperature), you might notice it’s gone up by a few degrees.
When does implantation bleeding occur?
So when does implantation bleeding happen?
Usually 10 to 14 days after conception or just before the time you might have had your next period. (Of course, adding to the confusion around what you can chalk it up to.)
This means that, if implantation bleeding is indeed what you’re experiencing, you may also have some other early pregnancy symptoms.
These are predominantly the result of the hormonal changes that are happening inside you.
What implantation bleeding feels like
Implantation bleeding is often accompanied by implantation cramps.
Implantation bleeding cramps feel pretty similar to period pains and ovulation cramps.
This is because when your newly-fertilized egg attaches itself to your uterine wall, it’s actually a form of mild bodily trauma, and the area can become temporarily inflamed, which you can sometimes feel.
Your cervical position during implantation bleeding
You might not know it, but your cervix shifts position soon after implantation bleeding can occur.
Before implantation bleeding and during ovulation, your cervix sits higher up, feeling softer, opening itself up ‒ it’s in the best position to get pregnant.
After implantation bleeding (if it occurs), your cervix will stay in the high position, still soft, but will close itself off ‒ until you’re ready to give birth.
How long does implantation bleeding last?
How many days does implantation bleeding last? Typically, about 1 to 2 days.
This is another key differentiator between implantation spotting and your period. For many at least, periods can stick around for quite a few days more than that.
You know what else is rather amazing?
Because your due date is typically counted from the first day of the last period you have, by the time implantation bleeding occurs, you may already be a whole month pregnant.
(Fertilization often occurs somewhere in the third week after your last period and implantation bleeding in the fourth. We know, it’s confusing!)
Implantation bleeding FAQs
Still have a few more burning questions about implantation bleeding?
It’s only natural ‒ after all, it can be a pretty big deal.
Can you take a pregnancy test during implantation bleeding?
The short answer is: yes, you can take a pregnancy test during implantation bleeding, but you may not get the most accurate result.
It’s best to wait until 14 DPO (days past ovulation) to take your pregnancy test, which you can usually calculate based on your last period.
A pregnancy test will give you a clear answer, but it will be a little more reliable a few days after the implantation bleeding has stopped.
Can implantation bleeding be heavy?
Generally speaking, no, implantation bleeding isn’t that heavy.
It’s usually just implantation spotting ‒ a little blood, like the end of a period, lasting a few hours or a day or two.
If you suspect your implantation bleeding is heavy, it’s best to contact your doctor.
Does implantation bleeding have clots?
Not usually, no ‒ implantation bleeding is more of a reaction to the blastocyst (fertilized egg) attaching itself to your uterine wall, so there aren’t any clots to pass (your uterine wall isn’t shedding at this point).
If you are experiencing heavy implantation bleeding with clots, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider, just in case.
Just as with heavy implantation bleeding, many of our mamas on Peanut have heavy implantation bleeding with clots stories if you’re looking for some support.
How common is implantation bleeding?
Does every pregnant woman experience implantation bleeding? Nope.
But it is still pretty common ‒ implantation bleeding can affect around 25% of pregnancies in the first trimester.
So if you’re experiencing some implantation spotting, chances are that it’s totally normal.
What if I have implantation bleeding after sex?
If you’re in the early stages of pregnancy and you have sex, you might notice some implantation bleeding then.
It can seem like a bit more bleeding than it actually is, because the implantation bleeding can mix with vaginal discharge and semen.
Usually, bleeding after sex while pregnant isn’t anything to worry about, although if it’s a heavy bleed, it’s worth checking in with your doctor.
Can you have implantation bleeding twice?
Having implantation bleeding happen twice on two separate occasions (bleeding for a couple of days, then stopping, then bleeding a little more) isn’t all that common.
Some mamas on Peanut have implantation bleeding stories that suggest bleeding twice is a sign of twins, but there aren’t any scientific studies to back this up.
If you do experience implantation bleeding twice, speak to your doctor, even if it’s just for a check-up.
Do you have implantation bleeding with twins?
Yes, you can have implantation bleeding with twins, although it doesn’t happen to every mama of multiples.
Some women who are pregnant with twins do experience a little heavier implantation bleeding than mamas-to-be of one baby, but not all of them.
After all, every pregnancy is different!
Can you have PCOS implantation bleeding?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can make telling if it’s implantation bleeding or period even more difficult, since spotting between periods might be a common occurrence already.
And because it’s hard to tell when you’re ovulating with PCOS, it can be tricky to figure out how many days past ovulation you are to take a pregnancy test.
Speak with your healthcare provider to work out your ovulation cycle together, and go from there.
Does implantation bleeding smell?
No, implantation bleeding shouldn’t smell, besides the usual slightly metallic smell of blood.
If your implantation bleeding does smell unpleasant, fishy, or sweet, it’s best to check in with your doctor, as it could be a sign of infection.
What if I don’t have implantation bleeding?
Implantation bleeding is not the only symptom of early pregnancy, and since only around a quarter of pregnant women experience implantation bleeding, it’s nothing to worry about if you’re trying to conceive but having no implantation bleeding.
How do I find heavy implantation bleeding stories?
If you’re trying to conceive and experiencing what you think could be heavy implantation bleeding, it can help to know you’re not alone.
We have many mamas and mamas-to-be on Peanut sharing their heavy implantation bleeding stories and heavy implantation bleeding experiences.
You’re more than welcome to share yours, if you feel comfortable.
Ultimately, trying to conceive can be a time that is both thrilling and confusing—not to mention nauseating.
First and foremost, look after yourself.
And know that there is simply no “right way” to feel about where you’re at.
Want to share your implantation bleeding stories or questions? Join us on Peanut.