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What Is Implantation Bleeding And How To Recognise It?

Although it may sound a bit strange, bleeding can also be a symptom of pregnancy, and this is referred to as 'implantation bleeding'. Implantation bleeding is not common, but many women have concerns about it. In fact, one-third of pregnant women would experience implantation bleeding. It is an early sign of pregnancy, and usually not dangerous and does not require treatment.

Implantation bleeding usually happens six to twelve days after conception, and you may mistake it for your regular period. When the bleeding occurs around the same timing as that of a woman's menstrual period, it can cause confusion too.

Therefore, through this article, know more on implantation bleeding, and how you could differentiate it from your normal period.

When Does Implantation Bleeding Occur?

About six to twelve days after conception, when the sperm meets the egg, it develops into an embryo, and this embryo travels to the uterus and implants itself into the lining of the uterus. At times, when the embryo attaches to the uterus wall, it causes a little bleeding, as the movement may break down some blood vessels within the uterus wall. However, this doesn't cause any problems to the developing baby.

Few other reasons for the bleeding to occur could be due to irritation in the cervix following the gynaecologist's examination, irritation or tear following intercourse, heavy lifting or exercise, or vaginal infection.

How To Recognise Implantation Bleeding?

Implantation bleeding is one of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy. To recognize implantation bleeding, check if you have any of the following symptoms along with pinkish or brownish spotting. But, it does not guarantee that the spotting is always associated with pregnancy. It is just an easily identifiable indication.

• Lighter than normal bleeding

• Light cramping, usually less than that of a normal period

• Mood swings

• Breast tenderness

• Nausea

• Headaches

• Low backaches

• Bleeding lasts for only a few hours to a day or two

How Is Implantation Bleeding Different From Normal Period?

Most of the symptoms mentioned above, such as cramps and mood swings, are also associated with pre-menstrual symptoms, and therefore, implantation bleeding may be mistaken as an early period. But, here are some key differences between an implantation bleeding and a normal period.

- Colour of bleeding

When you have a normal period, the colour of blood is usually bright to dark red. But, in the case of implantation bleeding, it is typically dark brown or light pink.

- Duration of bleeding

The duration of a normal period is anywhere between three to seven days. But, in case of implantation bleeding the bleeding may last for just a couple of hours to a maximum of 3 full days.

- Clotting

While some women experience a great deal of clotting during menstruation, some do not see much at all. However, implantation bleeding does not present with any clots.

- Quantity of bleeding

While most women have their pads and tampons full during their normal periods, in case of implantation bleeding, it is only spotting or a light flow and not a full flow. Typically, it is a little brown or pink discharge. It could be intermittent, or a constant light flow.

What Are The Concerns?

Generally, implantation bleeding is not a cause of concern to the developing baby. Monitor the colour, consistency and frequency of bleeding, as your doctor may ask for these as a part of the diagnosis.

However, if you experience bleeding or spotting for more than a few days after your missed period, it may not be implantation bleeding.

Although implantation bleeding is not something to worry about, and 50 per cent of women who experience spotting/bleeding, go on to have a healthy pregnancy, extended or heavy bleeding during a pregnancy may be a cause of concern. This is because extended bleeding could be a sign of something more serious such as molar pregnancy (a rare benign tumour that develops within the uterus) or miscarriage.

Therefore, during your pregnancy, make sure that you discuss with your doctor about any spotting or bleeding issues that you may have. At any point in time during your pregnancy, if you experience heavy bleeding, you should contact your doctor immediately and seek emergency care.

In case you experience nausea, dizziness or abdominal pain along with bleeding, it may be a sign of ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo implants outside the uterus) too. So keep your doctor informed right away.

Implantation bleeding and miscarriage are not linked in any way. But, if you think you have had a lighter menstrual period than usual, it may be better to do the pregnancy test one week later. This will confirm your pregnancy and will help in the calculation of your due date correctly.

But, heavy bleeding (more than your usual period) is a cause of concern, and if you had heavy bleeding, or if it is accompanied by chills or cramps, contact your doctor immediately.

Read more about: bleeding
Story first published: Tuesday, September 4, 2018, 13:30 [IST]
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