Implantation Bleeding or Period

Submitted by Pregnancy and Baby Care team on July 7, 2017
Implantation bleeding is a natural occurrence and is an early sign of pregnancy, but it is often confused with a woman’s regular monthly menstruation. 

Implantation bleeding is a natural occurrence and is an early sign of pregnancy, but it is often confused with a woman’s regular monthly menstruation. 

The movement of the fertilized egg as it attaches to the interior wall of the uterus causes light implantation bleeding, which is a normal occurrence and happens to at least 33% of newly impregnated women.

As the embryo implants itself into the internal lining of the uterus, some blood vessels in the area may collapse and cause the bleeding.  This usually takes place from 10 to 14 days following ovulation and is generally the cause of implantation bleeding. 

Differences between menstrual and implantation bleeding

There are distinct differences between menstrual bleeding and implantation bleeding, with implantation bleeding generally lighter in color and density than menstrual blood. Like a menstrual discharge, bleeding that is caused by embryo implantation occurs close to actual menstruation days and is often mistaken for menstruation. 

From observation, women generally know the appearance of their menstrual flow. It will normally be the same in color and consistency, as long as they are not on any kind of medication or heightened stress levels. A light, pinkish, and sometimes rusty spotting will be noticeably different from the usual menstrual bleeding which is colored red and denser. 

Implantation bleeding could occur as short as a few hours or as long as two days. Anything longer than two days is a cause for alarm and should be reported to a medical doctor.  

On the other hand, menstrual bleeding lasts from four to seven days and the consistency starts from light spotting to heavier flow. In short, implantation bleeding varies from spotty to a more constant bleeding, but does not last as long as menstruation bleeding. 

Implantation bleeding is usually accompanied by one or a combination of the following signs:

-Slight headache

-Mood swings

-Pink or brownish spotting


First-time mothers

For first time mothers, or even for some women who had previous pregnancies, implantation bleeding and the accompanying cramping and unusual mood swings can be quite scary.  

But there is no need to panic, as there is usually no real risk to both baby and mother. Light bleeding is a normal occurrence for a number of reasons, including irritation of the uterine lining or sometimes following intercourse.   First-time mothers are likely to bleed more than women who have experienced previous pregnancies.  

Extended, heavy bleeding could be another more serious issue though, especially if it happens late into the pregnancy. A possible miscarriage is a major consideration, so it is important to undergo regular prenatal checkups and to inform your obstetrician-gynecologist or attending medical professional. 

Not quite sure?

If you are not sure whether what you are experiencing is implantation bleeding or regular menstruation, it is recommended that you presume yourself to be pregnant and act as an expectant mother, while waiting for another three days or maybe a week before taking a pregnancy test. This means, taking the necessary precautions to ensure that the pregnancy is safe, and then seeing a doctor.

It is always better to err on the side of caution.


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