Is This Implantation? Bleeding and Cramping Before Your Period Is Due
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
Did you experience implantation bleeding with your pregnancy or pregnancies?
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
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).