Implantation Bleeding

A woman with hands on her abdomen and a red pain indicator.

If you’re trying to get pregnant, it may be discouraging to notice some spotting in your underwear when you’re in the bathroom. You may think this spotting is a sign that your menstrual cycle is about to begin. There’s some good news, however. The spotting may actually be implantation bleeding and an early, totally normal, sign of pregnancy. Keep reading for more information on how to differentiate between the start of your period or early pregnancy.

What causes implantation bleeding and what does it look like?

About six to 12 days after conception, the embryo travels into the uterus and burrows into the lining of the uterus. For some women, the attachment of the egg will cause some of the uterine lining to come off, which shows up as brown or pink discharge, known as spotting. Implantation bleeding is scanty, and will only show up in small quantities. If you do have implantation bleeding, you will notice that it doesn’t look like a regular period, since menstrual cycles are usually characterized by discharge that’s redder in color. That said, it may be confusing to differentiate between the two, and you may need to refer to other signs from your body if you are curious to know whether you’re pregnant or not.

Implantation bleeding or menstrual period?

A pregnancy test.

Implantation bleeding normally occurs a few days to a week before your period would normally start. Spotting that occurs around a week after ovulation is likely implantation bleeding. Spotting that occurs close to the time that your period would normally start may not be a sign of pregnancy because a normal menstrual cycle generally starts off light and then gets heavier. Sometimes what looks like spotting can be the sign of an early period. If this is the case, the spotting will pick up to heavier bleeding. If you have spotting right around the time your period would normally start, it can be more confusing. You will need to take a pregnancy test to determine pregnancy for sure.

Could it be implantation bleeding if my period feels like it is about to start?

A woman resting with hands on her abdomen.

If you have had spotting and think it might be implantation bleeding, you may be paying very close attention to your body. If you are trying to get pregnant, the good news is that early pregnancy symptoms feel very similar to the start of your period. If you are pregnant, you may begin to notice symptoms of early pregnancy right around the time your period would normally start and sometimes sooner than that. If you suspect pregnancy you can test for pregnancy as early as ten days after ovulation.

How common is implantation bleeding?

Implantation bleeding is fairly common with pregnancy. 20 to 30 percent of women will have spotting during early pregnancy. It will usually happen before symptoms of morning sickness or any other pregnancy indicators and will stop on its own without treatment. Other symptoms of implantation include fatigue, mood swings, breast sensitivity, bloating, and high blood pressure.