Implantation Bleeding

Signs of implantation and what to do about them

Implantation bleeding is, currently, more theory than fact, but there is strong anecdotal evidence that suggests it really does exist and is more than just an old wives' tale. Not all women experience it, and because it occurs during early pregnancy, it is easy to mistake implantation bleeding for your regular period.

Bleeding during pregnancy is fairly common and does not necessarily mean you have to worry, but it still helps to be able to distinguish implantation spotting from other types of vaginal bleeding. The best way to do this is to know the signs of implantation, and to judge whether or not other implantation symptoms are present in addition to the spotting.

What Is Implantation?

Implantation typically occurs about seven to 10 days after conception. During this time, the fertilized egg floats through your fallopian tube to your uterus, seeking a comfortable place to implant itself. As it goes, its cells divide and reproduce, and they differentiate into either one of two distinct types: those that will go on to form the baby, and those that will go on to form the placenta.

When the embryo (or blastocyst, as it is called at this stage) finds a suitable spot in the uterine wall, it buries itself in the uterine lining and connects with the mother's blood vessels. Light spotting and implantation cramping are the two most common symptoms of this event. However, some women remain asymptomatic during implantation, which makes it very difficult for them to tell that they are pregnant at this early stage.

How to Distinguish Implantation Bleeding from a Period

The truth is that, in some cases, it is very difficult to distinguish implantation bleeding because it can present very much like a regular period. This is particularly true because it tends to occur right around the same time your regular period would. However, there are a couple of clues to look if you suspect that your spotting is caused by implantation and not your regular period:

  • Implantation spotting usually only lasts for a short period of time, not for a length of several days like your period.
  • Implantation bleeding is usually lighter than a regular period.
  • It is extremely rare for heavy bleeding to occur during implantation.

If you experience vaginal bleeding that doesn't seem to be a period and you have reason to think that you may be pregnant, talk to your doctor about getting a pregnancy test.