Implantation bleeding is an early pregnancy symptom. Although most of us associate bleeding during pregnancy with miscarriage or perhaps even ectopic pregnancy, light bleeding early in a pregnancy may actually be a sign that the pregnancy is progressing well. Around one in 10 women will experience some type of bleeding during pregnancy. In many cases this bleeding is nothing to worry about; however, you should always report any bleeding during pregnancy to your doctor or health care provider.
What Causes Implantation Bleeding?
Many pregnant women report light bleeding, sometimes referred to as "spotting" in the earliest stages of pregnancy. Indeed, this bleeding confuses many women into thinking that they've started their period and are not actually pregnant. Implantation bleeding is caused by a fertilized egg implanting or "burrowing" into the wall of the uterus (also known as the endometrial lining). This is where the fertilized egg will (hopefully) grow into a healthy baby throughout the rest of the pregnancy. During the implantation process, the fertilized egg forms connections to the mother's blood supply and body tissue. These connections will grow into the placenta, through which the baby receives everything it needs to survive in the uterus until birth. While the fertilized egg is implanting, a small amount of blood may be released, this blood exits the woman's body via the vagina and therefore appears similar to menstrual bleeding in many cases.
Differences To Menstrual Bleeding
- Implantation bleeding usually occurs as "spotting" or light, intermittent bleeding which lasts one to three days on average. Menstrual bleeding may last up to seven days and usually exits the body in a constant flow which begins lightly, gathers in strength, and then tapers off towards the end of the menstrual period.
- Implantation bleeding usually takes place 10 to 14 days after fertilization has occurred. Bleeding may occur before your normal menstrual period is due (perhaps around nine days after ovulation). Tracking your ovulation may help you to determine whether you are experiencing implantation bleeding or a normal period. If you have been having unprotected sex and you do experience light, intermittent bleeding before your period is due, there's a chance that it could be a sign you're pregnant.
- Implantation bleeding may appear different in color and texture to your normal menstrual bleed. Implantation bleeding may be pink or brown, whereas menstrual bleeding (once the flow has really started) tends to be redder. Implantation bleeding may even appear as nothing more than a darker colored discharge.
What To Do
Not all pregnant women will experience implantation bleeding. If you know you are pregnant, you shouldn't worry if you don't bleed, as long as you are in regular communication with your doctor and he or she feels that everything is going well.
If you know you are pregnant and you do experience any type of bleeding, even if it has all the characteristics of implantation bleeding, you must see your own doctor or whichever medical professional is available at the time. Lie down and rest until you are examined and don't take any medication unless your doctor tells you to do so. It's important to stay as calm and relaxed as possible at such a time (your doctor needs to make sure the bleeding is not a symptom of something more serious).
If you have been trying to get pregnant (or even if you haven't) and you get an early, light, period, perhaps accompanied by other pregnancy symptoms, you should take a pregnancy test. It may be that this is implantation bleeding!