You may know about the challenges of pregnancy, but what are implantation cramps? Find out more about this conception symptom.
We all know that pregnancy is no walk in the park – from stretch marks to labor pains.
But what are implantation cramps?
If you’re trying for a baby, you might want to find out a little more about this common symptom during the conception process.
In this article: 📝
- What are the first signs of implantation?
- What is implantation cramping and when does it occur?
- What do implantation cramps feel like?
- How long do implantation cramps last?
- What should I do if I think I’m getting implantation cramps?
- How can I deal with implantation pain?
- Find out more on Peanut
What are the first signs of implantation?
First things first – we need to talk about ‘implantation’ and any implantation symptoms.
The term ‘implantation’ refers to a fertilized egg (embryo) attaching itself to the uterus lining.
In a successful conception, the sperm will meet with the egg to fertilize it, and it will then grow into an embryo, and attach itself to the uterine wall, ready to develop into a fetus.
You may have heard of a few other symptoms of implantation, such as spotting.
This is common around 10 to 14 days after successful fertilization – and some women may mistake it for a menstrual period.
However, one key difference is that it’s lighter than your standard flow, and is pinkish/brownish in colour.
Some women, on the other hand, experience implantation pain.
Here’s what you should look out for if you are trying for a baby.
What is implantation cramping and when does it occur?
Implantation cramping is all to do with this fertilized egg itself – known scientifically as a ‘blastocyst.’
When the blastocyst attaches itself to the uterine wall, it can trigger the release of ‘prostaglandins.’
A prostaglandin is a lipid compound that has similar effects to hormones.
It is usually released at the site of tissue damage or infection, so the body associates it with injury.
The process of implantation is technically a form of mild trauma to the uterine lining, as it causes modifications to maternal arteries, which may explain this hormonal response.
Just as areas of the body throb and become inflamed when injured, so too can the uterus.
This inflammation can trigger a pain response, which explains why some women feel implantation pain.
What do implantation cramps feel like?
While not every woman experiences implantation cramps, some women report feelings of tingling, pulling, or pricking.
It can be tricky to determine the difference between implantation cramps and period cramps because of the timing.
Generally, implantation cramps take place around four to eight days before the date of your next expected menstrual period.
This aligns with your menstrual cycle – assuming you have a rough 28-day cycle, you should expect implantation to take place between six and 10 days after you’ve had sex.
As this coincides with pre-menstrual symptoms, it’s fair that many women may confuse period pains with implantation cramps.
Where do you feel implantation cramps?
You can generally expect to feel implantation symptoms in your lower abdomen, in the same area as you would period pain.
Again, many women may mistake this for the start of an upcoming period, due to the similarities.
But, like a period, you may also notice other implantation symptoms.
For example, you may notice swollen, heavier, or painful breasts.
Likewise, you might feel generally fatigued and moody, or you might have particular food cravings.
Implantation cramps vs period cramps
For all of these reasons, it’s no wonder that so many women confuse implantation cramps with period cramps! In particular, if your cramps are accompanied by spotting, you may think this is a period starting a few days early.
But key things to look out for with implantation are:
- Lighter bleeding
- Pinky brown bleeding rather than bright red (a menstrual period)
- Less severe pain than periods (consult a doctor if your symptoms are severe)
If you are experiencing severe pain, always talk to a medical professional.
In some cases, this could be a sign of something more serious, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, ectopic pregnancy, or miscarriage.
How long do implantation cramps last?
If you’re one of the lucky ones, you may not experience implantation cramps whatsoever!
In most cases, the implantation process is temporary and cramps should be gone within one to three days.
What should I do if I think I’m getting implantation cramps?
There are a few things you can do if you think you’re experiencing implantation cramps, particularly if you are trying for a baby.
First of all, look for any other symptoms such as light spotting, tender breasts, headaches, or constipation.
Check the date of your last period – do you have a regular cycle, and are you expecting a menstrual period soon?
You can download apps such as Clue to give you a better insight into your menstrual cycle, and log any other common symptoms such as mood swings or cramps.
Taking a pregnancy test
You should wait about a week after your cramps before you take a pregnancy test.
This is because your body needs to have a certain amount of the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone to show up on a pregnancy test.
The hormone appears in higher concentrations around a week after conception, so if you’ve not had your period yet, wait to take a pregnancy test.
How can I deal with implantation pain?
Implantation pain is usually mild and will go away within a few days.
However, you’re right to be concerned about taking pain relief if you think you may be pregnant.
You can treat implantation pain in the same way you would deal with menstrual cramps.
Apply a warm compress such as a hot water bottle and make yourself as comfortable as possible.
If this is not effective, the safest over-the-counter medicine to take during pregnancy is Tylenol (medical name acetaminophen).
Avoid taking ibuprofen or aspirin unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Implantation pain doesn’t happen to everybody and, thankfully, it is usually one of the short-term symptoms.
It’s a worthwhile first chapter of an exciting new stage of your life!
Find out more on Peanut
Conception is the first part of a hugely exciting journey – with all the implantation pain, cramping, and other glamor that comes with it!
For support, advice, and guidance from other women along the way, join Peanut.