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Periods Vs Pregnancy Bleeding: Implantation Bleeding & How To Identify It

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

Introduction

Your period date is close and you notice light bleeding in your underwear. But instead of the colour red, the blood is pinkish-brown? Congratulations, you might be pregnant. Women trying to conceive a baby might confuse this happy sign of early pregnancy for period onset but we’re here to explain to you why implantation bleeding might look similar but is completely different from menstrual periods. 


In this blog, we look at understanding what implantation bleeding is, what causes it, the symptoms of implantation bleeding to help you differentiate it from a period and what should you do next. 

Did You Know?

What is implantation bleeding?

Implantation bleeding – typically defined as light spotting or a small amount of bleeding that occurs about 10 to 14 days after conceiving a baby – is a normal sign of early pregnancy.
Implantation bleeding happens after a sperm fertilizes your egg which implants itself into the lining of the uterus to become an embryo, causing a little bleeding. 

Since this usually happens around the time of your menstrual cycle, you may confuse implantation bleeding for a light period and not realize you’re pregnant. 

Some people may not experience any implantation bleeding, while some may have a light period, like bleeding for 2-3 days; this is usually considered normal, except when it is accompanied by persistent cramping or pain.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj – M.B.B.S, M.D. in Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology

Implantation Bleeding vs Periods: Difference between implantation bleeding and period

Since women have different kinds of blood flow during their menstrual period, it’s hard to point out exact differences between implantation bleeding and a period. However, there are three key differences women can use to differentiate an implantation bleeding from a period:

  1. Colour
    Whether you have a heavy or light menstrual flow, most women are familiar with the colour of their blood during usual periods. Unlike the light or dark red blood seen in periods, implantation bleeding is typically light pink to dark brown (rust-coloured) in colour.
  2. Clotting
    Some women experience clotting in the expressed blood during their menstruation, while others do not see much clotting at all. Implantation bleeding, however, has no clots in the expressed blood.
  3. Amount
    Regardless of experiencing a heavy or light flow, most women can fill pads and tampons during their periods. With implantation bleeding, however, it is usually only spotting or a light flow. Most times, it’s just a little pink or brown discharge, rather than a full flow, just enough to get on a pantyliner.

Implantation bleeding is never enough to fill a pad or tampon like a menstrual period. Colour: Menstrual bleeding is typically a bright to dark red and will look like what you typically experience during your monthly period. Implantation bleeding is a much lighter hue, typically a very light pink or light rust colour.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka – MBBS, MD(Pediatrics)

How to recognize implantation bleeding?

Some of the other early signs of pregnancy may overlap with implantation bleeding symptoms, so take a pregnancy test or consult a doctor if you notice any of the following signs:

  1. Mild cramps (less than a normal period cramp)
  2. Exhaustion/ weakness
  3. Mood swings
  4. Headaches
  5. Nausea (morning sickness)
  6. Upset stomach
  7. Absence of blood clots or tissue in the blood 
  8. The implantation bleeding colour is brown or pinkish instead of red or dark red
  9. Tender, swollen breasts or nipples
  10. Food cravings or aversion
  11. Frequent urination

Implantation bleeding is one of the important early pregnancy symptoms and tends to happen before the onset of morning sickness. Implantation bleeding timing isn’t as long as your period and it’s lighter inflow. Women who are expecting their first pregnancy are more likely to spot or bleed than women who are used to egg attachment.

Also Read: Sperm Cramp: Causes, Symptoms, And Being Informed About Men’s Health

Final thoughts

All in all, implantation bleeding timing lasts for anywhere between a couple of hours to three full days and has a very light blood flow, sometimes even a light discharge. Unlike period blood that’s bright or dark red, implantation bleeding colour is something between pink and brown. 

Women experiencing implantation bleeding may experience other early symptoms of pregnancy like morning sickness, lower backaches, mild or no cramps, tender breasts and others. But many of these can also be PMS symptoms or ovulation symptoms and you may not be pregnant. 


If you’re not sure whether you’re having implantation bleeding or your period, it’s best to take a pregnancy test or talk to your doctor. Pregnancy tests can be taken at home using urine pregnancy test kits or you can book a blood test for pregnancy from the lab. It may be difficult to detect a pregnancy too early after conception, hence chances of false-negative results exist. There can be multiple reasons for irregular, missed periods or spotting. Consult a doctor for the best advice and understanding of the way forwards. 

Also Read: Can You Get Pregnant On Your Period? Exploring Fertility Myths

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.Resources

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