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What Does Implantation Bleeding Look Like?

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I am an LPN (licensed practical nurse), and I am currently employed at a local hospital working in acute/transitional care.

Is it implantation bleeding or is it my period?

Is it implantation bleeding or is it my period?

Am I Pregnant?

Implantation bleeding can be an early sign of pregnancy—but some women don't notice it when it occurs. Others may mistake it for a light period, and still others don't experience it at all.

So what exactly is implantation bleeding?

Typically occurring 10–14 days after conception, implantation bleeding is thought to be caused by the fertilized egg burrowing into the uterine lining, which is rich with blood. This burrowing may cause some of the uterine lining to shed and then exit through the vagina as discharge.

We will go into more detail below about how to tell the difference between implantation bleeding versus a menstrual period, but in general implantation bleeding looks more like spotting rather than a typical period flow. In addition, the colour of the discharge is typically brown or pink rather than red, although this isn't always true.

It is not uncommon to confuse implantation bleeding for a period.

It is not uncommon to confuse implantation bleeding for a period.

Implantation Bleeding Facts

  • Only one-third of women experience implantation bleeding.
  • Some women may experience implantation bleeding but do not notice it.
  • It may be mistaken for a menstrual period.
  • It occurs 10–14 days after conception.
  • It is not harmful.
  • Some women experience luteal phase spotting leading up to their period which may be confused for implantation bleeding. However, this will turn into a regular period within a few days.

What Does Implantation Bleeding Look Like?

If you have had unprotected intercourse recently and are experiencing some bleeding earlier than your expected period, you may be wondering if it is implantation bleeding.

Here are the signs of implantation bleeding:

  • Colour: Pink and/or brown in colour (rarely red)
  • Flow: Single spot, light spotting, or a very light flow
  • Duration: 1–2 days
  • Cramping: Light or none
  • Timing: Typically before your expected period

Implantation Bleeding vs. Period

Implantation BleedingPeriod

Colour

Pink or brown (rarely red)

Bright red

Flow

Single spot, light spotting, or very light flow

Heavier flow

Duration

1–2 days

3–7 days

Cramping

Light or none

Yes

Timing

Typically before expected period

2 weeks after ovulation

Is This My Period or Implantation Bleeding?

It is not uncommon for women to confuse implantation bleeding with their menstrual period. Here are some of the main differences between the two.

  • Your menstrual period usually begins 14 days after ovulation or around cycle day 28 (this may vary for some women; for example, those with a luteal phase defect). Implantation bleeding will usually occur before your menstrual period is due.
  • Your menstrual period is often heavy bleeding and lasts for approximately 3–7 days. Implantation bleeding may range from a single spot to intermittent spotting for 1–2 days. This spotting is usually much lighter than your normal menstrual period.
  • While your menstrual period may consist of brown discharge at the beginning or end, it mainly consists of bright red blood. Implantation spotting, on the other hand, is typically pink and/or brown.
What is your body trying to tell you?

What is your body trying to tell you?

Reasons for Bleeding During Your Cycle

A woman may experience bleeding during her monthly cycle for various reasons. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Menstruation: If conception hasn't taken place, the uterus sheds the uterine lining at the end of each menstrual cycle for approximately 3–7 days. It then grows a new lining and the cycle repeats. This commonly occurs every 26–36 days (some cycles may be shorter or longer).
  • Ovulation Spotting: Pink and/or brown spotting occurs around the time of ovulation (approximately 14 days after the first day of your last period). Lasts 1–2 days.
  • Implantation Bleeding: A light spot or spotting, usually brown and/or pink in colour. This spotting usually occurs around 10–14 days after conception.
  • Luteal Phase Spotting: Light spotting during the luteal phase (the period of time between ovulation and menstruation). This may or may not be due to low progesterone. Many women experience a few days of spotting prior to their menstrual period.

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Comments

Taylor on January 18, 2020:

I was on my period in December and I quickly had sex right after. It’s now January and i have been having morning sickness and have been very sleepy. I gag to certain smells, I’m currently really really sick stuffy nose coughing and sneezing eyes watering and I’ve been cramping for a couple of weeks and having really bad back aches and headaches and I’ve been constipated. Today I wiped and I seen a very light pink color on the tissue. Could this be implantation bleeding?

Lenare on December 11, 2019:

Hi I'm currently 10 weeks and 4 days, I felt a gush of Liquid come out Lastnight and It was browny coloured.. After that I started to bleed redish pinkish blood, No pain at all! Am I miscarrying?

Margaret on September 30, 2019:

Hello I’m new on here. Well I had a period for a few days and after my period I did have sex and two days later I started having back pain and cramps with light spotting brown since last week. What is happening?

Tracy B (author) from Canada on September 19, 2019:

Thanks!

Nayeli Araujo on August 01, 2019:

So I’ve been trying to convince for a baby,my period isn’t really regular In what I know, last I got my period was last month on july 27 and well from what I think I got my period this month on the 28 but idk if it’s my period or it’s implantation bleeding Bc it’s not heavy as my regular period would look like, my period blood will always show when I clean my self and there will be barely on the pad but I never experienced implantation bleeding before so I’m really confused i don’t know if it’s my period or not I really need help please

Que on June 26, 2019:

Ok so yesterday I thought my menstral was comin on because when I sat down I had cramping and then I spotted in my shorts so I put a pad on then this morning I woke up I check and I had dark brown blood in my pad but it didn’t feel up the pad it’s the kind it looks like after I usually get off my period so I used the bathroom no blood in the toilet just slightly wipe and a little brown on the tissue ... could this be implantation I’m nervous

Singapore Gynae from Singapore on February 25, 2019:

Very good read. If you want to learn more about Women's reproductive health, you can visit this site: https://www.anntan.com.sg/

India Whitemore on February 04, 2019:

I don't know if anyone has had the same thing but i'm 19, me and my partner want a baby, my period is always regular i missed the first and second day but on the third day i experienced red pinkish blood not as heavy as my period though, i had cramps before i was due but i still have cramps now but they aren't as intense as usual, and they come and go, ive also had some clots when ive wiped, dose anyone know what this could be? Is it just my period is late or am i pregnant?

Carol on December 29, 2018:

I started spotting 10 days before my period is due (due in 2 days). It started out pinkish/brownish but the latest 2-3 days it’s been bright red. I’ve never had bleeding between periods before. I have a headache every day. My breasts are really swollen(although not particularly tender). I’m getting toothache at night only. 2 negative tests. Totally confused!

JaneMarie on December 11, 2018:

Hi ladies .

I stopped taking BC Oct. 22nd, had my withdrawal bleeding from Nov 21-26th. I had very bad heartburn from day 15-17. Yesterday marked day 20 for me, started getting a very light flow of dark brown blood. Only really shows when I wipe. Took 3 (P) test 2 were faint and the third didn’t show anything. Today I am still experiencing the light flow of brown blood and really bad side pains . Took 2 more test today but looks more - than +. What should I do ?! Very confused. Is it implantation bleeding??. No cramps just side pains and back pains

Tracy B (author) from Canada on November 30, 2018:

Your best answer is, of course, to take a test. Spotting like this can be a sign of pregnancy. However, it can also mean something like a hormone imbalance. Or just a wacky cycle this month. I am sorry to hear about your loss :(. And I hope this is it!!

RentiaSwanevelder on November 29, 2018:

Hi ladies

I'm new and am currently over analyzing and googling ;-)

Trying for our Rainbow

Cycle Day: 31 normally 29 days, luteal phase was 11 days and then 12 days last 2 cycles

TTC Cycle: 1st after MMC in July

Ovulation Date: 17/11

Was expecting AF today but...

Have had slight spotting (brown since 25th 8DPO, On 9DPO, nothing 10DPO, then again yesterday 11Dpo and today 12Dpo today it was more reddish but only when at the bathroom... Did Bd on 8 & 11 DPO

CM is still creamy where it usually dries up before AF and don't get spotting before AF

Wondering if anyone experienced this type of spotting and what was the outcome

Tracy B (author) from Canada on November 19, 2018:

Hi Chards of Love!

The only way to know for sure is to take a test. You have already missed a period, so a test would be very accurate right now.

Chards love on November 17, 2018:

my first date of last period was the 13th of October, i am usually every 28 days on the day. However my period was due last Sunday. I had unprotected sex on the 4th of November. I still have no period but I do have a loat of bloating, cramps and light pink blood. Can someone help?

Tracy B (author) from Canada on July 24, 2018:

Hey Maggie!

Completely normal. Sometimes we have some spotting just before our periods are due to arrive. If this doesn't come out immediately it turns into "old blood" or the brown discharge you are noticing. Your period is likely just around the corner!

Maggie on July 19, 2018:

I haven’t started my period or have had sex but just over 2 days ago I notice that I had a lot of brown discharge and it’s still going on as I’m typing. I’m probably sure that this is just the normal spotting if you weren’t pregnant or had sex. But I’m concerned because it’s lasted for over 2 days. Should I be worried about that or will my period come very very soon?

Tracy B (author) from Canada on June 23, 2015:

If you are completely unsure when your period is due. Try testing approximately 14 days after the last time you had unprotected sex.

Jennifer on June 21, 2015:

I've had unprotected sex and was due my period for sometime this month. I woke up during the night with really bad cramps and thought it was just my period coming. There was nothing there I just had cramps. The next day I noticed this pink faded blood on my underwear and there was only tiny spots but still getting menstrual cramps. The day after that I woke up with dark red/brown blood and got a bit heavier. I'm not sure weather I'm pregnant or not and don't know when the best time to do a test is.

Tracy B (author) from Canada on August 13, 2014:

Are you sure of your ovulation date? If you have been temping, using opk's, ect. And are sure of your ovulation day. Have you had a short luteal phase before? It does sound more like a period. However, if you are still concerned wait 2-3 days and use a pregnancy test.

Sherry Fletcher on August 12, 2014:

I supposedly ovulated on the 29th of july an 9 dpo i started having some bleeding that lasted 4 days. It was pinkish brown the first day then turned red the second day the last 2 were pinkish brown again then stopped. I'm confused