Everything You Need to Know About Implantation

  Photo by  Daniel Hjalmarsson  on  Unsplash
Photo by Daniel Hjalmarsson  on Unsplash

What is implantation?

This is the earliest stage of pregnancy. Mere days after conception, implantation will occur. It is the very beginning of your pregnancy journey.

Once an egg has been fertilized by sperm, the fertilized egg makes its way down the fallopian tubes. Once the egg’s journey ends in the uterine wall (aka endometrium), the fertilized egg (now a blastocyst) attaches itself to the uterine wall. Essentially, when the blastocyst has attached itself to the endometrium, implantation has occurred. In layman’s terms, implantation is when the egg sets up camp in the womb.

When does implantation occur? 

Generally speaking, implantation happens 5-12 days after an egg has been fertilized by sperm. Keep in mind–this is not necessarily 5-12 days after intercourse. Sperm can live inside the vagina for up to 5 days after sex, just waiting for ovulation to occur. Implantation is most likely to occur within a two-week window after intercourse. For example, if you have sex on the 1st, implantation is likely to occur between the 5th and 10th of the month.

How long does it take after fertilization for implantation to occur? 

Once the egg has been fertilized by sperm, implantation usually occurs 6-12 days later. Again, the egg may be fertilized up to 5 days after intercourse, as sperm lay in wait for ovulation.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that implantation occurs 6 days after intercourse. Again, the egg may be fertilized 5 days after intercourse, as sperm lay in wait for ovulation. In this example, implantation would still occur 6-12 days after fertilization, but that would be 11-17 days after intercourse.

What causes implantation bleeding?

After an egg has been successfully fertilized by sperm, the egg begins to grow. It also signals the rest of the woman’s body to start making changes to prepare for pregnancy. One of these changes is the thickening and maturing of the uterine wall. The uterine wall needs to provide a supportive, nutrient rich home for Baby to grow.

About 1-2 weeks after fertilization, the fertilized egg, now a blastocyst, attaches itself to the uterine wall (aka endometrium), where it becomes reliant on the woman for oxygen and nutrients. When the blastocyst attaches to the endometrium, there may be tiny tears in the blood vessels. Those tiny tears are the reason some women experience implantation bleeding. This is not harmful to the woman, the blastocyst, or the endometrium. If this happens, you may begin to see bleeding or spotting. Implantation bleeding does not happen to every pregnant woman. So, if you don’t experience any spotting or bleeding, you could still be pregnant.In fact, most women do not experience implantation bleeding.

How many pregnant women experience implantation bleeding?

Only 1 in 3 (or about 33%) of pregnant women report implantation bleeding. There’s a good chance you may be part of the 66% of women (the majority) who do not experience any implantation bleeding at all.

How can I tell the difference between a period and implantation bleeding? 

  • Early Arrival– Typically, implantation bleeding will occur 5-12 days after fertilization. This is usually before your period is scheduled to begin (if you’re regular). So, if you notice light brown, pink or red bleeding a week or more before your period, that might be implantation bleeding.
  • When You Last Had Sex– The timing of your last intercourse may also help you figure out if you’re experiencing implantation bleeding. If it’s been more than two weeks since you last had sex, and you suddenly start spotting, then you are unlikely to be pregnant. However, if you last had sex 8 days ago and you see light brown spotting, that might be implantation bleeding (and an early sign of pregnancy).
  • Lighter Flow– Further, implantation bleeding is usually much lighter than your normal period. For some, this may be even more confusing, especially if you often spot between periods. The truth is it can be very difficult to determine the difference between light spotting and early signs of pregnancy.
  • Different Color– Some women report that the blood during implantation is darker and less red in hue than menstrual blood (more of a brown color). They also report some cramping during the spotting. Others, however, notice no difference between the implantation bleeding and normal spotting. So, you may think you’re bleeding due to implantation and get your period two weeks later. Or you may think you’re having normal spotting, and find out you’re actually pregnant two weeks later.

When should I see my doctor?

While light bleeding during pregnancy is somewhat common, especially in the first trimester, there are times you may want to contact your physician. If you are experiencing heavy bleeding (like a regular period) after a positive pregnancy test, you need to seek medical help. You could be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or molar pregnancy. All three of these conditions needs medical treatment.

Don’t stress too much–unless it is heavy bleeding, chances are you and Baby are doing great.

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