A Common Pregnancy Symptom

Either planned or unexpected, millions of women get pregnant every year. A small subset of these women also use in vitro fertilization (IVF) to help with infertility. Regardless of the means, the body goes through various changes during conception and pregnancy. One of these changes is implantation bleeding, a natural process that can be concerning for some women. Understanding what to look for with implantation bleeding can help women know when to visit the doctor for any emergencies.

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What is implantation bleeding?

The conception and pregnancy process has several steps. First, the sperm meets the egg in the fallopian tubes to create the embryo. The embryo then travels to the uterus, where these cells nestle in the uterine lining. This process happens 10-14 days after conception. Finally, the embryo creates small ruptures in the uterine lining during implantation, appearing as vaginal bleeding.

Implantation bleeding symptoms

Implantation bleeding is one of the first signs of pregnancy and looks like light bleeding or spotting. Some women also experience light cramping and pelvic discomfort. Other common symptoms accompanying implantation bleeding include nausea, lower back pain, and headaches. These symptoms are similar to a woman’s regular period and are often mistaken for periods.

Implantation bleeding vs. a regular period

Despite the similarities, some telltale signs separate implantation bleeding from menstrual bleeding. Implantation bleeding happens as light spotting that is light pink or brown. The bleeding also lasts 2 days at most. The menstrual period will have a much heavier, red blood flow that will last 4 or more days. The cramping and other symptoms should be lighter than the menstrual period. Implantation bleeding is more common in first-time pregnancies and usually happens a few days before the expected period.

Should I see a doctor?

Implantation bleeding should not be a sign of an emergency and should subside within 2 days. These symptoms should encourage women to take a pregnancy test as soon as possible. However, there are other reasons why bleeding can happen. If heavy, bright red bleeding persists for several days, there could be a severe condition like ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. Other symptoms include painful cramps, blood clots, dizziness, or weakness. Bleeding in the 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy is often urgent. Visit a doctor immediately for a vaginal ultrasound and other tests.

Don’t panic about implantation bleeding

Implantation bleeding is a normal part of pregnancy. When the embryo implants in the uterus, some of the uterine lining can become dislodged, causing light bleeding and spotting, bleeding should be short and not severe. However, if the bleeding is heavy, persistent, and painful, seek medical help immediately. A simple visit can increase the chances of a safe pregnancy.

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