What Is Implantation Bleeding?

pregnancy sign implantation bleeding

When the fertilized egg attaches to the interior lining of the uterus to begin the growth process, something is known as implantation bleeding begins. This movement of the egg can result in light bleeding, which is completely normal and does not require any kind of medical attention.

In general, around a third of pregnant women will experience this. While similar in appearance to a woman’s menstruation period, the two should not be confused as there are differences.

Signs of Implantation Bleeding

When implantation bleeding occurs, it is considered one of the early symptoms of pregnancy (at least one of the first easily identifiable signs for a mother). Other early signs of pregnancy at this stage is tenderness in the breasts or nausea.

Typically, this begins around a few days before the next menstruation cycle. However, as implantation bleeding is so similar to that of a period, many women are confused whether it is a pending pregnancy or period.  How can someone clearly identify this spotty blood as bleeding from an implanting egg? There are several additional signs to keep in mind.

Common Signs Accompanying Implantation Bleeding:

  • A pink or brownish discharge or spotting
  • Light or faint cramping
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Cramping

What Does Implantation Bleeding Look Like?

Implantation bleeding does look a bit different from that of the average woman’s period. Now, it is important to remember that not all women have the same kind of blood flow during their period.

Some will have a heavier flow while others may experience a bit more unpredictability. Even with that in mind, there are several key differences separating menstruation bleeding and that of implantation bleeding.

First, there is the color of the spotting. Whether heavy or light, most women are familiar with the color of their spotting. This is because the bleeding comes from the same location in the women’s body every time. Regardless of how much, due to the location, the spotting usually looks the same.

Implantation bleeding, on the other hand, will typically appear either more pinkish or with a dark brown color. The dark brown, almost rust, color, looks as if the blood is aged more than the brighter, red color.

Additionally, some women experience thicker clotting blood in their monthly flow. This will not be the case as the pink or rust colored blood has the same consistency throughout.

The length of time is a key indicator as well. Most women have a period that will last anywhere from four to seven days. A woman almost always will begin lightly spotting with a heavier flow coming a few days after starting.

Some women are substantially heavier (especially women who have been off of birth control for an extended period or have never been on it at all), while others are lighter. Either way, there usually is a clear pattern in bleeding, and it will dissipate after a few days.

Implantation bleeding can vary from spotty to a more constant flow, however, it doesn’t last as long.

When Does Implantation Bleeding Occur?

After insemination, the embryo will implant itself into the wall of the uterus. This movement may break down some blood vessels within the uterus wall, causing the bleeding. The entire movement and bleeding will take place around 10 days to two weeks following ovulation.

Menstruation occurs 14 days after, which is another reason why the two are often confused with one another. Some women may simply believe their period is a few days late. Around day 22 to 25, the lighter pinkish spotting will occur early on, which is a few days earlier than general menstruation signs.

Women know what their blood flow looks like, and as long as they are not on any kind of medication or have a change in stress level, their blood flow, levels, color, and consistency are usually the same. So, when this lighter, pinker spotting occurs, it will appear a bit out of place.

How Long Does It Last?

The prevalence of implantation bleeding varies lasting as little as a few hours up to two days. Women who are going through their first pregnancy will likely bleed more than women who are used to the egg attachment (similar to dental flossing of the gums as the first time the gum line is aggravated, it will bleed more, while subsequent times bleeding is less).

Implantation Bleeding Concerns

In these early stages of a pregnancy, there is little to be concerned about as there is no real risk to the developing baby. Light bleeding during pregnancy is perfectly normal as there is any number of reasons behind it, ranging from irritation of the cervix (especially following OBGYN exams) or even more bleeding/spotting following intercourse. It is important to note that vaginal infections can lead to an increase in bleeding as well.

Extended bleeding can be a sign of something more serious, especially further on during the pregnancy. Molar pregnancy or miscarriage are two concerns, which is why whenever visiting the OBGYN or other doctors, it is necessary to inform them of current bleeding (especially if it is heavy). Additionally, all symptoms should be recorded and reported to medical professionals.

For women going through nausea, dizziness, abdominal pain and vomiting, it may be nothing, or it may be early signs of an ectopic pregnancy, so informing a doctor is necessary. Cramping is normal during pregnancy, yet if the level of pain during cramping increases, it is recommended to contact a doctor.

Still Not Sure

For women who are still not sure if they are experiencing their monthly period or implantation bleeding, it is recommended to wait three days before taking a pregnancy test.  You are welcome to contact our toll-free helpline at 1-800-672-2296 to speak with a pregnancy educator.

Typically it is just too soon for tests to offer conclusive results. Ideally, waiting a week is more desirable as the results will prove more accurate.

Last updated: June 14, 2017 at 22:52 pm

Compiled using information from the following Medical sources:

1. March of Dimes: “Pregnancy Complications.”

2. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: “What Are Some Common Signs of Pregnancy?”

3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Abnormal Uterine Bleeding,” “Early Pregnancy Loss.”

4. Norwitz ER, et al. Overview of the etiology and evaluation of vaginal bleeding in pregnant women.

5. Moore KL, et al. Answers to clinically oriented questions. In: Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013.

6. Frequently asked questions. Pregnancy FAQ038. Bleeding during pregnancy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.


7. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Months 1 and 2. In: Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month. 6th ed. Washington, D.C.: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; 2015.