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.

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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.