Implantation bleeding is a common phenomenon that occurs during early pregnancy. However, it can be hard to distinguish between implantation bleeding, a normal monthly period, and bleeding that is serious. This article will help to answer your questions regarding bleeding during early pregnancy and discuss the ins and outs of implantation bleeding.
What is implantation?
When you conceive, the sperm and egg join to form an embryo. Afterwards, the embryonic cells begin dividing quickly, forming what is known as a blastocyst. The blastocyst then moves through a fallopian tube into the uterus, attaching to the lining of the uterine wall. This process is known as implantation, which is essential to beginning a successful pregnancy. Implantation usually occurs five to six days after an egg is fertilized.
If implantation does not occur, the pregnancy will not continue. The uterine lining will shed, and you experience a normal monthly period 1.
What are signs of implantation?
There are several symptoms of early pregnancy that may indicate your body is undergoing implantation. These signs can include:
- Tender breasts
- Mood swings2
This article will focus specifically on the symptoms of bleeding, particularly implantation bleeding. We will discuss why implantation bleeding occurs and what you can expect.
How common is bleeding during early pregnancy?
The first trimester is defined as the pregnancy period between zero to 13 weeks. First trimester bleeding is common, occurring in 15 to 25 percent of all pregnancies. Depending on the root cause of bleeding, women can experience different bleeding patterns. Bleeding patterns can vary between being light or heavy, painless or painful, or intermittent or constant3,4.
Is bleeding during early pregnancy serious?
There are several reasons that you may experience vaginal bleeding during early pregnancy. Some of these causes are serious while others are not. There are four potential causes of bleeding during early pregnancy. These include:
- Implantation bleeding
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Other medical conditions such as polyps, infection, or inflammation4
Bleeding during early pregnancy is relatively common, and oftentimes benign. Normal bleeding during early pregnancy is known as implantation bleeding. Many pregnant women experience implantation bleeding, as it is a normal sign of early pregnancy3.
Other types of bleeding can indicate something more serious, such as an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. Therefore, if you experience any sort of bleeding during pregnancy, you should consult your doctor. While implantation bleeding is normal, blood could indicate something more serious requiring medical attention.
What is implantation bleeding?
Implantation bleeding occurs as a result of the fertilized egg implanting into the uterus. The egg may move, causing the release of a small amount of blood known as spotting. Implantation bleeding typically occurs between 10 to 14 days after fertilization. Usually, it happens around the time of your missed period. Therefore, women sometimes confuse implantation bleeding for their period4.
How do you recognize implantation bleeding?
Implantation bleeding typically looks different than your normal period. However, women have varying presentations when it comes to their periods, so the two can be difficult to distinguish. When considering whether you are experiencing implantation bleeding or your period, look at the following in your blood:
- Color. Most women will know what the color of their period usually is. Oftentimes, it their period blood is red in color. Implantation bleeding can look a bit different, as the color can be more pink or brown in nature.
- Amount. During a normal period, most women go through entire pads and tampons due to the amount of blood. Implantation bleeding is characterized by lighter bleeding and spotting, however. It usually does not require feminine products to manage or may just need a pantyliner.
- Frequency. During normal menstruation, women usually experience a constant flow of blood over the course of several days. With implantation bleeding, however, spotting occurs more intermittently.
- Clotting. Clotting commonly accompanies a woman’s period. With implantation bleeding, though, clots are not usually present5.
If you experience signs of implantation bleeding, you could be pregnant. If you experience such symptoms, consider taking a pregnancy test after a missed period. However, know that not all pregnant women will experience implantation bleeding. Therefore, if you do not experience such symptoms, you may still be pregnant.
Additionally, if you experience any type of bleeding during pregnancy, contact your doctor. Bleeding could be a sign of something more serious. Therefore, it is best to always get it checked out.
Remember these key takeaways regarding bleeding during early pregnancy:
- Implantation occurs when the fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining.
- Bleeding can happen during early pregnancy and is characterized as either normal or serious depending on the cause.
- Implantation bleeding is common and a normal sign of early pregnancy.
- Implantation bleeding is usually lighter and more intermittent in frequency compared to a normal period.
- If you experience any bleeding during pregnancy, contact your healthcare provider.
- Kim, S.-M., & Kim, J.-S. (2017). A review of mechanisms of implantation. Development & Reproduction, 21(4), 351–359. https://doi.org/10.12717/DR.2017.21.4.351
- Implantation signs and symptoms: Bleeding, cramps, and more. (2019, July 17). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/implantation-signs
- Bleeding during pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2022, from https://www.acog.org/en/womens-health/faqs/bleeding-during-pregnancy
- Uptodate. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2022, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/overview-of-the-etiology-and-evaluation-of-vaginal-bleeding-in-pregnancy
- What is implantation bleeding? (2022, April 19). American Pregnancy Association. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-symptoms/what-is-implantation-bleeding/