How to tell the difference between implantation bleeding and a period

Spotting may not mean your baby hopes are dashed as this may be one of the early signs of pregnancy.

When you hope to fall pregnant, the waiting game can very stressful. Month after month, you wish that you’ll miss your period as this is one of the first signs of pregnancy.

Then you notice some blood on your underwear just about when your period is due. Does this mean you’ve hit a speed bump in your baby-making attempts? Don’t feel disheartened... You might still have a bun in the oven as it you could be experiencing implantation bleeding.

What is implantation bleeding?

It’s bleeding that occurs when a fertilised egg attaches itself to the wall of your uterine. This happens because after an egg has been fertilised, it has to travel through the fallopian tube, into the womb and burrow into its lining (or implant).

Explains SmartParents expert Dr Christopher Chong, a Gleneagles Hospital obstetrician-gynaecologist, “While travelling through the lining of the womb (to implant into the womb), the embryo rubs onto or migrates through blood vessels in the lining of the womb. Or, it could be due to part of the lining shedding off due to this migration.”

This refers to a tiny bit of your uterine lining that sheds during the attachment ― it then shows up as a light-coloured pinkish or dark brown discharge that lasts one to two days.

An implantation bleeding is bleeding that occurs when a fertilised egg attaches itself to the wall of your uterine.

What about menstrual bleeding?

Most women have a menstrual cycle averaging 28 days in length. About mid-way through your cycle (day 14), an egg is usually released. If the egg is fertilised, it implants in the uterine wall and implantation bleeding may occur. If it’s not, this egg travels on and is shed, along with the uterine lining, as a menstrual period.

How to tell the difference between implantation bleeding and a normal period?

The four key things to observe are: How heavy the flow is, the colour of the blood, the duration of the bleeding and the severity of the cramping.

Normal period

* Normally lasts four to seven days.

* Heavy with a consistent flow of blood that lightens after a few days.

* The colour of the blood is bright red or vibrant.

* Need to use sanitary pads or tampons.

* Usually contains blood clots.

* Period cramps are usually much more intense.

 

Conceiving-How-to-tell-the-difference-between-implantation-bleeding-and-a-period-2

Implantation bleeding

* Lasts one to two days, but can also appear for just a few hours or even on and off for up to a week.

* Is extremely light…and stays light.

* The colour of the blood is usually brown or pink.

* Usually, using a panty liner is sufficient.

* Does not contain blood clots.

* Light or faint cramping that never increases in intensity.

While it’s perfectly normal to experience implantation bleeding, not every woman does. This phenom is said to affect only about one third of women, which means that you could be pregnant even if you don’t experience this.

Dr Chong says that other signs that you may be pregnant are sore or tender breasts, feeling light-headed especially in the morning on waking up, nausea and gastric bloatedness or discomfort.

Other early pregnancy symptoms include mood swings, sensitivity to smell and an elevated basal body temperature.

While it’s perfectly normal to experience implantation bleeding, not every woman does. This phenom is said to affect only about one third of women.

So, what can you do if you suspect that you’re pregnant instead of having an early period?

Dr Chong suggests:

* Taking a home pregnancy test: The urine test usually picks up pregnancy from five weeks of gestation. It’s important to do the test after your regular period is due and not immediately after you notice the light spotting. Even if it is implantation bleeding, a pregnancy test may still show up as negative if there isn’t enough time for hCG (pregnancy hormone) levels to be detected in the blood. hCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy.

* Get a blood test (for hCG levels): This can pick up pregnancy from about one week after ovulation.

* Get an ultrasound scan: It can pick out a water bag (amniotic sac) one to two weeks after a woman misses her period.
* See a doctor: Schedule an appointment with a doctor/gynae.

Photos: iStock

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