For couples who are trying to conceive, anything can seem to be a symptom of pregnancy. You've read about implantation bleeding and cramping, and now that you're experiencing some pre-menstrual spotting, your mind is probably racing to the immediate assumption that you're already pregnant and that it's only a few days before those two pink lines will prove your pregnancy.
Imagination often runs away from a person who is hoping desperately for something to be real. Many women believe they can feel pregnancy from the moment that the gametes meet to fertilize and form the zygote that will eventually form a human baby.
Anyone who has ever tried (and perhaps struggled) to conceive understands what you're going through right now, but there are other possible reasons to explain spotting before your period is due.
Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a medical professional. If you have any concerns at all about your health, you should contact your doctor. This article does not substitute for sound medical advice.
What is Implantation Bleeding?
Pregnancy begins with implantation, when the fertilized egg (known as a zygote) implants on the thickened endometrium (the lining of the uterus). This lining is usually shed during the menstrual period. When a zygote has implanted in the endometrium, the body is flooded with pregnancy hormones, which instruct the body to stop cycling through the duration of the pregnancy.
When the zygote connects with the lining of the uterus, a small amount of the endometrium may be released into the cervix. Implantation bleeding occurs when this small amount of blood is discharged. In some cases, spotting may even occur later in pregnancy.
Implantation bleeding does not occur in all pregnancies. A lack of implantation bleeding is not a sign of an unhealthy pregnancy, but if you're concerned, call your doctor!
What does Implantation Bleeding Look Like?
Implantation bleeding may be anything from a small smear of light blood to what looks like a light (or super-light) period. Some women may believe that their period has arrived early, and those who are trying to conceive may even be disappointed for the wrong reasons.
If you are trying to conceive and your period is not due, it is recommended that you not use tampons to soak up any menstrual flow. A menstrual cup or pad will be preferred over these options to avoid the risks associated with tampons.
Contact your doctor if you experience a more-than-expected amount of bleeding. You should soak no more than two menstrual pads
When Does Implantation Bleeding Occur?
Implantation bleeding occurs between seven and ten days after ovulation (1-10 d.p.o.). You can predict this by learning how to track your ovulations.
On a 28-day cycle, you will probably implant about five days before the date that your period is due. The best way to keep track of when you ovulate (and therefore when you should see your period) is to track your ovulation and to understand your menstrual cycle.
Other Causes of Cramping and Bleeding Before Your Period is Due
Many women have reported in this article's comments section that they don't begin to experience menstrual cramping until the first day of their period. Others (including this author) experience cramping up to three days before the day that menstruation begins. This variation makes it difficult to determine whether the cramping you feel is related to implantation or to your period.
The obvious cause of pre-menstrual pain is the coming menstrual period, as your body prepares to expel the endometrium through the cervix. These cramps are often a milder version of the cramps that you feel after your period has started.
Bleeding is a bit more complex. Bleeding between periods isn't normal and should be checked out by your doctor. If you experience spotting or bleeding between your periods, especially if you are trying to conceive, talk to your doctor.
Possible Causes of Bleeding and Cramping Between Periods
|Implantation (Pregnancy)||Normal Bleeding Between Periods||Abnormal Bleeding Between Periods|
Usually less fluid than a light period.
Up to 10 ml of fluid, but probably less.
Early start to the period.
May resemble a period or be lighter in color.
Caused by zygote implanting in the endometrium.
Why You Should Talk to Your Doctor About Any Vaginal Bleeding
Any time you experience bleeding between periods, you should contact your doctor for an exam. Some of the causes of bleeding between periods are potentially serious, and you'll want to catch any serious illnesses early enough to receive treatment.
If you believe that you are pregnant, you should take a pregnancy test and then see your doctor to make sure that the bleeding is, in fact, implantation bleeding, and not something more serious (such as miscarriage).
So How Do I Know I've Implanted?
Without a positive pregnancy test, there's no way to be sure.
Obviously bleeding and cramping aren't fool-proof ways of knowing that you've implanted and are now pregnant (and you should contact your doctor for these symptoms if you do not confirm a positive pregnancy test), but what other methods do you have of detecting implantation?
You'll use the same methods that you would to determine when you are ovulating.
At the time of ovulation, the body begins to produce the hormone progesterone in increased amounts. This is the hormone that triggers the thickening of the endometrium (uterine lining) and causes women to experience mood swings during pregnancy and leading up to their periods. This hormone also causes an increase in basal body temperature.
To recap, body temperature rises during ovulation and remains high until the cycle begins again with the next menstrual period or throughout pregnancy.
However, when the zygote implants in the uterine wall, basal body temperature takes a temporary dip. This drop in BBT is generally significant enough that you should notice a change if you are charting to determine when you are most fertile.
When Is the Best Time to Take a Home Pregnancy Test?
The best time to take a home pregnancy test is after you have experienced implantation. If you have no signs of implantation, it is recommended that you wait fourteen days from your estimated date of ovulation before taking a pregnancy test.
A very sensitive test should be accurate once the fertilized egg has implanted in the uterine wall, causing the body to begin producing human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
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.
Anne on May 01, 2020:
Hi.. May period is supposed to be on the 27 April, but i missed my period now for 6 days, and now i have a light bleeding.. What does it mean? Should i take pregnancy test already?
confused on November 01, 2019:
i wasn't suppose to come my period until the 5 of november 2019 . And i started light bleeding today, 4days before my period. My period are normally heavy, so what should i do?
Confused on September 13, 2019:
My period has been irregular and now spotting very light pink when i wipe and i go to doctor and they say i am pregnannt with 2 test.. I get home and take one and it says. Negative
Becki Rizzuti (author) from Central Indiana on April 11, 2019:
Hi Angie! If you're bleeding between periods, you should talk to your doctor.
Angie on April 11, 2019:
Hi..my period did not come on the 1st of april and it came on the 8th as spotting for two days and on the 10th light bleeding..what does that mean im worrying..
Becki Rizzuti (author) from Central Indiana on February 13, 2019:
Je, you should be able to get an accurate result with a sensitive test now.
If you're in America, the best tests come from the Dollar Tree. They're cheap, sensitive, and accurate!
Je on February 11, 2019:
With my first pregnancy I had no symptoms didn’t even know I was pregnant for the first 6 weeks then now I am having light cramping and lower back pain and brownish pinkish discharge that’s very little , my period is due in 5 days and I am not sure if what I am experiencing is implantation bleeding when can I take a home pregnancy test ?
becky on January 15, 2019:
I was due on the 8th of January didn't start until the 14th. I have a irregular period but its always between 28,29, and 30 days. I've taken 4 test only one had come back positive. I'm confused because now I am having cramps in my lower abdomen with lite bleeding. (pinkish with mucus). I would like to know if I am going threw implantation bleeding or not?
carol on October 14, 2018:
I had unprotected sex for 6days then after 3days I started my periods can I be pregnant?
Becki Rizzuti (author) from Central Indiana on September 25, 2018:
If the test was negative, you are PROBABLY not pregnant. It's always best to check with your doctor to be sure, but it's unlikely you're pregnant.
Period heaviness and even length can change for a variety of reasons, from diet to your choice of sanitary products.
Maya on September 24, 2018:
Hi my period was due on the 18th of this month. I had a period but it was light. I did a pregnancy test of the 19th it was negative. I'm worried if i am pregnant or not because i usually have heavy periods but this time around it wasn't heavy. I don't know if it's because i am worried of being pregnant that my period was lighter. Please what do u'all think..
Becki Rizzuti (author) from Central Indiana on September 09, 2018:
The length of cycles can vary based on the length of the follicular phase of the cycle. This is the period of time between your period and your ovulation, and it *can* vary from month to month.
If you are bleeding heavily enough to fill a pad, chances are it's your period.
If it's light bleeding, it could be implantation bleeding. You should be able to take a pregnancy test NOW to determine whether you're pregnant.
Choose a strong test. If you're in the US, the strongest tests are those you can purchase from Dollar Tree for one dollar (seriously).
Jackie on September 09, 2018:
I started my period on 14 n got off on 19 of August n now its September 8 I started bleeding be 4 my period what does dat mean please help me
Becki Rizzuti (author) from Central Indiana on July 03, 2018:
Hi Dee! Periods can be irregular due to the mutable length of the follicular phase of your cycle. If it looked like your period, it probably was.
Once implantation has occurred, highly sensitive pregnancy tests can detect pregnancy. If you're in the United States, Dollar Tree sells some of the most sensitive tests on the market -- for $1. If you're concerned or curious, it's an affordable way to test.
Dee on July 02, 2018:
My period was due on the 1st of July but I started bleeding on the 28th of June it stopped on the 1st of July. I have been off birth control since March was it my period or implantation but it looked like a period
Becki Rizzuti (author) from Central Indiana on June 12, 2018:
Zya, this sounds like it is probably an atypical period. Have you tested? How long is your luteal phase ordinarily?
Zya on June 11, 2018:
Hi! Im a little confused, we are trying to have a baby, and im spotting after 15 day of my ovulation day! And it was pink the first hours then turn brown. It is just a couple of drops but today is day 4 and is almost nothing but its like an on -off thing. Could this be implantation bleeding
Becki Rizzuti (author) from Central Indiana on May 11, 2018:
Morgan, please see your doctor for unexpected bleeding. Implantation bleeding doesn't usually last that long, so this is something you should look into, to make sure your birth control is working as it should and not having an adverse effect.
Morgan on May 10, 2018:
I'm having a really tough time figuring this out. I'm on a 21 active, 7 inactive pill and I spotted like a week before my expected period. I have never had spotting or a late period on this birth control without skipping a pill or so. Spotting lasted 2 days and the cramping comes and goes lightly.
Rea ramlogan on March 09, 2018:
I think I'm having implantation bleeding
Becki Rizzuti (author) from Central Indiana on December 21, 2017:
When did you ovulate?
Implantation occurs between 10 days (or so) after ovulation. If you did the baby dance around the time of ovulation and are spotting roughly ten days post ovulation, then it is possible that you are pregnant.
The only way to be certain is to take a pregnancy test!
Becki Rizzuti (author) from Central Indiana on December 01, 2017:
Hi Vee! When did you take the test? Before or after your period was due?
Lisa on August 02, 2017:
Hi my monthly is due next week but am having headachs sore breast n some times a funny taste in my mouth i took a pregnancy test but it came negative has this ever happen to anyone before n what does it mean answers plz
Harry on July 16, 2017:
I had unprotected sex with my boyfriend on Wednesday last week and we are actually TTC and my period is suppose to be out this Thursday but came out on Sunday with so much pain on my waist and thick brownish clotted blood. Could it be period?