Not every woman will get implantation spotting, but it’s handy to know what to keep an eye out for. After all, it’s one more exciting sign that there’s a bun in the oven!
In this article, we explain what causes implantation bleeding, how to identify it, and how to tell it apart from your period.
What is implantation bleeding and what does it look like?
When does implantation bleeding occur?
Implantation bleeding is something that may occur at an important moment in your embryo’s journey to fully-grown babyhood.
Since conception, the embryo has been travelling down your fallopian tube and already growing at an amazing rate. But now it’s time to find a more permanent home: the embryo pops out of the fallopian tube and into your uterus, finding a promising spot in your uterine lining to nestle into.
As the embryo implants, it can disturb the tiny blood vessels in the place where it settles, and this may result in a small amount of implantation bleeding. This is normal and the blood vessels will soon heal themselves.
Implantation tends to happen about 10 to 14 days after conception, but it can be as early as 6 days for some women. So some bleeding in the run-up to your expected period or even about the time that your period is due to start (confusingly!) could be implantation bleeding.
What does implantation bleeding look like?
If you look at some implantation bleeding pictures, you might find yourself getting out your magnifying glass to spot the blood.
Implantation spotting often involves only a very tiny amount of blood – in fact, you might have it but totally miss it.
So let’s go through some of the pressing questions you might have about what implantation bleeding looks like:
- What does implantation bleeding look like on a pad? A few spots or a very light flow of blood – usually not enough to soak the pad or pantyliner. Note: It’s best not to use a tampon to soak up any blood if you think you might be pregnant. There’s a risk that a tampon could bring unfriendly bacteria into your vagina and lead to an infection.
- What color is implantation bleeding? Usually pinkish or brown. Pink means the blood is mixed with cervical mucus; brown means the blood has taken a while to exit your body and has oxidized on the way.
- Can implantation bleeding look like a period? It might resemble the light flow that you get at the start or end of your period. If the bleeding becomes heavier and changes to a more vibrant red, it’s likely to be your period rather than implantation spotting (especially if it happens around the time you’d be expecting your period).
Of course, if you normally have very light periods it might be harder to tell the difference. Don’t worry, there are other ways to check (more on that below!).
How many days does implantation bleeding last?
Implantation spotting only lasts for 1 to 2 days on average, and it may be very “on-and-off” rather than a continuous flow of blood. On the other hand, if the bleeding lasts for several days, and is heavier, it could be your period.
But you know your own body and what’s normal for you. If you have bleeding that is unusually heavy or painful, or lasts for longer than usual, get in touch with your healthcare provider.
Heavy bleeding early in pregnancy could be a sign of pregnancy loss or, more rarely, a molar pregnancy. So it’s important to get it checked out.
How can I tell if it’s implantation bleeding?
Your bleeding is more likely to be implantation spotting if:
- It happens about 10 to 14 days (or sometimes a little earlier) after you think conception took place.
- The bleeding is much lighter than your normal period and you only have mild cramps (or none).
- You have some other early pregnancy symptoms, including: nausea, tender breasts, and fatigue.
- You get a positive pregnancy test result a few days after seeing the blood.
But can you take a pregnancy test during implantation bleeding? you ask…
We know you’re eager to find out whether your pregnancy journey is underway, but it’s best to take a pregnancy test once the suspected implantation bleeding is over – and ideally after the first day of your missed period. That gives your pregnancy hormones (which are detected by the test) time to build up. Fingers crossed for a positive result!
Understanding Implantation Symptoms