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Implantation Bleeding: Causes & Symptoms

Pregnancy implantation bleeding refers to light spotting or bleeding 10 to 14 days after fertilisation. When this occurs, most women are unaware they are pregnant and mistake implantation bleeding for their period.

Implantation bleeding is normal during early pregnancy. It is usually light and stops spontaneously, so you don’t require treatment. However, you must talk to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns regarding vaginal bleeding early during pregnancy.

In this article, we delve into the details of implantation bleeding, such as the causes, timeframe and duration – as well as how you can take better care of your body during pregnancy. Read on to learn more.

Implantation-Bleeding-vs.-Period-How-To-Tell-The-Difference
Implantation Bleeding vs. Period: How To Tell The Difference

What Does Implantation Bleeding Look Like?

Implantation bleeding appears as light spotting when you wipe. It may also be a consistent and light blood flow; you may need to wear a thin panty liner or pad. The blood can either be brown, pink, or orange. Implantation bleeding during early pregnancy does not usually have clots. It may go on for a few hours or several days.

Implantation bleeding occurs together with other signs of the early stages of pregnancy, including:

  • light or faint cramping (less severe compared to cramps experienced during normal periods),
  • fatigue,
  • abdominal bloating,
  • mood swings,
  • breast tenderness.

It is good to note signs and symptoms by observing the frequency, consistency, and colour of bleeding early in pregnancy. You should share these details with your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis.

How Heavy Can Implantation Bleed be?

Implant bleeding occurs in early pregnancy as light spotting of blood you see when you wipe yourself. Sometimes, you may have to wear a light panty liner or period underwear.

It may also be a light blood flow, but it is very different from the normal flow of your periods. In simple terms, implantation bleeding during the early months of pregnancy is a brown-or pink-coloured discharge. It is not heavy bleeding, and it does not have clots. If you notice that the bleeding is red or darker, you should visit your doctor immediately.

When Does Implantation Bleeding Happen?

Implantation bleeding takes place 10 to 14 days after conception. It is a symptom of early pregnancy and occurs around the same time you would expect your period. For this reason, many people confuse light bleeding in the early months of pregnancy with their regular period.

Causes of Implantation Bleeding

During conception, an embryo forms after a viable sperm fertilises the egg. The embryo enters the uterine cavity through the uterine tubes. The embryo attaches itself to the uterine wall once it reaches the uterus. The implantation process may cause some blood vessels found in the uterine wall to break, causing light bleeding during early pregnancy. However, the bleeding does not affect the foetus in any way.

Can you have implantation bleeding that looks like a period?
Can you have implantation bleeding that looks like a period? – image courtesy of Clearblue

Other Possible Causes of Bleeding in Early Pregnancy

Apart from implantation during early pregnancy, bleeding can occur due to different reasons. You need to talk to a healthcare provider if you experience heavy bleeding in the early months of pregnancy with or without pain or cramping.

Bleeding during early pregnancy can occur due to these reasons:

Sex

Intercourse can cause bleeding during the early stages of pregnancy because, at this time, the cervix is sensitive and very tender.

Ectopic Pregnancy

In the early pregnancy stages, an ectopic pregnancy may cause bleeding. This is a condition where embryo implantation occurs outside the uterus and starts developing on the cervix, ovaries, abdominal cavity, or uterine tubes. An ectopic pregnancy could result in vaginal bleeding, cramps or pelvic pain (specifically one-sided cramps), vomiting, nausea, and dizziness. It is a condition that can be life-threatening and needs emergency medical aid.

Threatened Abortion

Also another cause of bleeding during early pregnancy. It is a condition where the embryo is in the uterus, but the pregnancy is still in danger. A threatened abortion happens due to physical trauma, certain medications, or an infection.

Complete Miscarriage

This can result in bleeding during the early stages of pregnancy. Estimates show that about 10% of miscarriages occur in all clinically recognised pregnancies, but up to one in five pregnancies end in a miscarriage.

Other than vaginal bleeding, there are other symptoms of miscarriage, including the passage of fluid or bloody tissue from the vagina and pain or cramping in the abdomen or lower back. You must visit your healthcare provider if you notice these symptoms when pregnant.

Molar Pregnancy

Molar pregnancy is a complication that occurs when an abnormal mass of cells develops inside the uterine cavity instead of a foetus. It may cause red to dark brown bleeding in early pregnancy accompanied by other symptoms, including pelvic pressure or pain, the passage of grape-like cysts from the vagina, and severe nausea and vomiting.

Therefore, it would be best to see a health care provider as soon as you suspect the symptoms you are experiencing when pregnant may be due to molar pregnancy. Cervical problems, including cervical infection, abnormal growth, or cervix inflammation, can cause bleeding during early pregnancy.

Infections

Any kind of infection that affects the vagina or cervix, such as sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea, chlamydia, or herpes, can cause bleeding early stages of pregnancy.

Ovulation Bleeding & Why It Happens
Can you take a pregnancy test during implantation bleeding?

Can You Take a Pregnancy Test During Implantation Bleeding?

The right time to take a pregnancy test is the first day after a missed period to get more accurate results. You must visit your healthcare provider if the home pregnancy test is positive. They will perform a blood test to confirm the results.

Sexually active women should take a home pregnancy test after experiencing irregular bleeding. Remember that implantation bleeding occurs before a missed period. Therefore, if you do a pregnancy test and it comes out positive, and at some point, you experience heavy bleeding, you need to talk to your healthcare provider to confirm whether it is a sign of pregnancy loss or not.

Some women may experience bleeding during the first trimester and do just fine – but your doctor must evaluate your condition to confirm your safety.

Risk of Bleeding in Early Pregnancy for Mother and Baby

The cause determines the risks and effects of bleeding during early pregnancy and if it is treatable.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Bleeding in the early stages of pregnancy due to an ectopic pregnancy can make it hard for the foetus to survive. There is also a risk of another ectopic pregnancy in the future. Therefore, appropriate treatment is necessary for the mother after ectopic pregnancy for the prognosis to be good. Women with an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy have a history of endometriosis, pelvic surgery, multiple abortions, abdominal surgery, sexually transmitted infections, or pelvic inflammatory disease.

Threatened Abortion

A threatened abortion may cause bleeding during early pregnancy. Miscarriage can also occur. However, there is a chance for a healthy pregnancy and delivery. It is vital to visit your doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing a threatened abortion.

Complete Miscarriage

A complete miscarriage means that the pregnancy is terminated. It does not cause any risk to the mother because all the pregnancy tissues are expelled from the uterus. Common signs during a complete miscarriage are severe abdominal pain, the passage of pregnancy tissue, and heavy vaginal bleeding. The pain and bleeding typically subside quickly. A healthcare provider usually confirms a complete miscarriage through an ultrasound.

Molar Pregnancy

No foetus forms in this kind of pregnancy; therefore, no harm is usually caused. However, it can pose serious complications to the mother and potentially cancer. Complete molar pregnancy has no baby but only placental parts that form after the sperm fertilises an empty egg. The baby is not formed because the egg is empty. Instead, the placenta grows and produces a pregnancy hormone known as hCG. When your healthcare provider performs an ultrasound, it will show no foetus but a placenta.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you experience abnormal spotting or bleeding, you should see a healthcare provider to determine whether you’re pregnant or not. In most cases, period-like bleeding during early pregnancy is not a cause for concern, but you must visit your doctor to be sure.

Also, if you took a home pregnancy test that came out positive, ensure that the health care provider confirms the results by doing a blood test.

In addition, heavy bleeding during the early stages of pregnancy should be checked out by a doctor because it may indicate a serious problem other than implantation bleeding.

How long after implantation bleeding should I take a pregnancy test?
How long after implantation bleeding should I take a pregnancy test?

Implantation Bleeding: Bottom Line

Implantation bleeding usually goes away on its own and does not require treatment. However, you can do certain self-care practices for comfort if you notice spotting or bleeding during early pregnancy, like avoiding tampons, elevating your feet, getting enough rest, and refraining from sexual intercourse.

To find out more about your potential pregnancy and how Fertility2Family can aid you in your fertility journey, reach out to us today. Our team is here to help.

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Evan Kurzyp
Evan is the founder of Fertility2Family and is passionate about fertility education & providing affordable products to help people in their fertility journey. Evan is a qualified enrolled nurse and has expertise in guiding & managing patients through their fertility journeys.

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