We all are used to the monthly bleeding that occurs during our menstrual cycle, and recognize the intensity of the bleeding as well its associated indicators. However, if you suddenly notice light bleeding or spotting before your period is supposed to start, it can cause some concern; more so, if you’ve been trying to conceive. But despair not – there may be another reason for this bleeding. It could well be implantation bleeding.
What is implantation bleeding and how can you recognize it?
When a mature female egg is fertilized by a male sperm cell, it goes and attaches itself to the thickened lining of the uterus. Pregnancy occurs and the fertilized egg grows into a baby. This attachment of the fertilized egg (or embryo) to the uterus lining is called implantation. It takes place about 7-9 days after ovulation and around 6-12 days after conception.
The movement of the egg during implantation may cause some blood vessels in the uterus to rupture, which then leads to light bleeding or spotting. The bleeding takes place only while the egg is attaching itself to the uterine wall. The cervix is still open and the blood passes out of the vagina. This is known as implantation bleeding, and is quite normal and common. Around 30-33% of the women experience it. Implantation bleeding is an early sign of pregnancy, and should not be confused with menstrual bleeding.
Here is how you can distinguish implantation bleeding from menstruation:
- Light bleeding or spotting – implantation bleeding is light, sometimes just a few drops, while menstrual flow is heavier.
- Pink or rust brown discharge – menstrual blood is bright red, whereas this is more aged blood, darker in colour.
- No clotting – consistency of flow remains same, with no clots. Menstrual blood often comes out as clots.
- Lasts a short duration – from some hours to a day or two, while a period lasts 4-7 days
- Light or faint cramping – menstrual cramping is more severe.
- Mood swings
Ovulation takes place around 14 days into the menstrual cycle, and Implantation bleeding usually occurs 7-9 days after that. This is a few days before a normal period may start. Since pregnancy hasn’t been confirmed at that point, many women confuse the two. But the lighter, pinker spotting is different in colour and should be the sign to look out for.
Bleeding during the first pregnancy is usually a little more compared to subsequent ones. Extended bleeding could be a reason for concern, and you need to consult your doctor in such cases. Similarly you must also watch out for other symptoms of early pregnancy and monitor their acuteness. Here are some signs you must not neglect:
- Excess nausea and fatigue – one of the first signs of pregnancy, nausea and fatigue are normal. But in case the nausea is too severe, you should ask the doctor for tips on managing it.
- Cramping severity – periods and implantation both cause cramps, but menstruation cramps are more intense.
- Excessive abdominal pain and dizziness may need to be checked out by the doctor too.
- Soreness in your breasts – hormonal changes in your body during pregnancy commonly lead to tender and swollen breasts.
- Change in bathroom habits – the urge to urinate frequently is a common symptom. As the baby takes more space inside your body, it puts pressure in your bladder – the bladder then needs to be emptied more often.
- Mood swings – hormonal changes in the body play havoc with your emotions and moods.
Most women go through these indications during their pregnancy. But if you observe that any of them are too severe and difficult to manage, get your obstetrician-gynaecologist (OB-GYN) to check them out. Too severe nausea or cramping may hinder the normal growth of the baby, and would need to be managed through medication or other means. Your doctor is the best person to help you out in such a case.