Signs and Symptoms of Implantation Bleeding

Implantation bleeding is different from menstrual bleeding and is considered one of the initial symptoms of pregnancy. Go through this article for a brief overview about the signs and symptoms of implantation bleeding.
HerHaleness Staff
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2018
It is a common fact that a woman's reproductive cycle consists of various phases, like puberty, menstrual cycles, pregnancy and menopause. Pregnancy is the most important phase in every woman's life. A missed period is often taken as an indication of pregnancy. Some women may experience implantation bleeding, as an early sign of pregnancy.
What is Implantation Bleeding?
Pregnancy happens when the egg released from the ovary is fertilized by a sperm, to form a zygote (fertilized egg). This process happens inside the fallopian tube. From the fallopian tube, the zygote travels to the uterus and during this period, it divides further to form the blastocyst, which can be described as a ball of cells with an outer covering. Once the blastocyst reaches the uterus, it gets out of the protective outer covering and attaches itself to the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus). Through this attachment, the blastocyst forms links with the mother's blood vessels, in order to receive oxygen and nutrients which are necessary for its growth.
The blastocyst may cause a slight amount of bleeding, as it penetrates the endometrium and gets attached to the uterus. This blood comes out of the uterus through the vagina, and this is called implantation bleeding, which is considered one of the earliest pregnancy signs. Every pregnant woman may not experience this bleeding, as it is not necessary for the blastocyst to cause bleeding while implanting itself on the uterine wall. It is said that only one-third of women experience this condition. A basic idea about the signs and symptoms of implantation bleeding and the probable time may prove useful in identifying the condition.
When Does Implantation Bleeding Occur?
Six to twelve days after ovulation. This normally happens before the expected date of menstruation. The average date of menstruation is calculated as the fourteenth day from the date of ovulation (the cycle may vary between women) and implantation bleeding occurs between six to twelve days after ovulation. In other words, this bleeding usually occurs during the third or fourth week from the date of the last menstrual period. The fertilized egg or zygote takes around five to six days to travel from the fallopian tube to the uterus. After that, it gets attached to the endometrium. So it is said that implantation bleeding occurs within nine to twelve days of ovulation. But in some cases, it may happen as early as six days too. So, the exact time of implantation bleeding may vary from one woman to another, and is usually given as 6 to 12 days after ovulation. Once implantation happens, it may take some time for the blood to come out of the uterus.
What are the Signs of Implantation Bleeding?
Mild bleeding or spotting. As mentioned above, this type of bleeding is caused by the small amount of blood that is released from the location of attachment of the blastocyst on the endometrium. First of all, you have to understand that implantation bleeding may not occur in all woman. It may happen that the endometrium does not bleed at all, while the blastocyst gets attached. Even the amount of bleeding may vary from one woman to another.
Bleeding or Spotting
  • So the first and foremost sign of implantation bleeding is bleeding itself.
  • Such vaginal discharge may be too scanty or spotty in some women, whereas in some others it may be a little more heavy.
  • However, in this type of bleeding, the blood will be pinkish or brownish, as it is old blood (it takes some time for the blood to come out of the uterus).
  • Some women may have black-colored discharge too. Clots are usually not usually found in implantation bleeding.
  • Generally, implantation bleeding is not associated with any symptom, but some women may experience minor cramps in the uterus and an increase in the basal body temperature (lowest temperature attained by the body during rest, usually during sleep).
Associated Symptoms
Usually, implantation bleeding does not cause any other symptom, except the scanty bleeding. However, the following symptoms may develop in some women, along with implantation bleeding.
  • Abdominal bloating, nausea or vomiting
  • Tender and swollen breasts
  • Frequent urination and fatigue
  • Increased sensitivity to odors
If such symptoms develop after implantation bleeding (along with a missed period), they may indicate pregnancy. However, confirmation of pregnancy is done with blood and urine tests as well as obstetric ultrasonography. If implantation bleeding is accompanied with pain, you should consult a gynecologist, as it could be a sign of ectopic pregnancy, which is a complicated condition, where the fertilized ovum gets implanted in any tissue other than the uterine wall. Most ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tubes, but can also occur in the cervix, ovaries or abdomen.
How Long Does Implantation Bleeding Last?
A few hours to 2 or 3 days. As mentioned above, implantation bleeding is not like a menstrual period. It is a scanty bleeding or spotting that may last anywhere from two hours to three days. In short, the duration may not be the same for all. Some woman experience a very mild and light bleeding, that may even go unnoticed. In some cases, it could be a single episode of spotting. Two to three days of scanty bleeding or spotting, may also happen. So the duration of implantation bleeding may vary from woman to another.
Difference Between Implantation Bleeding and Menstruation
  • Nature of discharge: The main difference lies in the nature of vaginal discharge. In regular menstruation, there is heavy bleeding which can last for three days and the menstrual discharge is red in color, but in implantation bleeding, there is no actual bleeding.
  • Associated Symptoms: Implantation bleeding is like spotting, which is pinkish or brownish in color. Usually, it is not associated with the symptoms of menstruation like pain, backache and cramps. However, some women may experience such symptoms too.
  • Time of occurrence: Implantation bleeding happens before the date of menstruation (2 to 7 days prior to menstruation date). It can be mistaken for menstruation, if the dates coincide. In that case, you have to wait for one or two days. If the spotting does not transform into heavy bleeding, then it means that it is implantation bleeding.
  • Duration: Bleeding caused by implantation does not last for three days, but in some women, intermittent spotting may occur for one or two days.
Even though some experts doubt the very presence of implantation bleeding, studies show that about one-third of pregnant women experience this, and there is no health problem associated with it. While some may not even notice it, in some women, the signs and symptoms of implantation bleeding will be more pronounced. Its absence is not a cause of worry and those who experience it should confirm pregnancy with other tests.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.