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Period-like Bleeding During Early Pregnancy: Is it Normal? Causes and Signs of Implantation Bleeding

Pregnancy implantation bleeding is the small amount of bleeding or light spotting, which occurs about 6 to 12 days after the intercourse. It is a normal part of being pregnant. Light bleeding during early pregnancy happens due to the attachment of the fertilized egg to the uterine lining. It usually occurs during the time when you are expecting a normal menstrual period. But it is generally lighter in comparison to menstrual bleeding. It is considered to be one of the early signs of pregnancy. Implantation bleeding is usually light, stops spontaneously and doesn’t need treatment. If you have concerns about any other type of vaginal bleeding in pregnancy — visit your physician.

What does Implantation bleeding look like?

The implantation bleeding looks like light spotting, i.e. blood, which appears on wiping. It may also appear as consistent, light flow of blood that needs a light pad or panty liner. The blood may look orange or pink to brown. No clots are usually present in implantation bleeding in early stages of pregnancy. It may last for a few hours up to three days. Women who are pregnant for the first time may have pregnancy implantation bleeding for a little more time in comparison to women who have had multiple pregnancies.  

Here are the signs of implantation bleeding:

  • Faint or light cramping (less in comparison to cramps felt during normal periods). 
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea
  • Pain in lower back
  • Tenderness in breasts
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal bloating

Make sure to note down the consistency, color, and frequency of the bleeding during early pregnancy and implantation bleeding signs and symptoms as you may have to share these details with your physician for a diagnosis. 

How heavy can implantation bleeding be?

As already stated, implantation bleeding in early pregnancy is generally only spotting of blood that appears on wiping. It may also appear as a light flow of blood, but it is different from normal periods when there is a full flow of blood. A typical implantation bleeding in early stages of pregnancy is a pink or brown colored discharge, which appears on wiping. It may be more consistent flow and appears on a panty liner or pad.

When does implantation bleeding happen?

Implantation bleeding usually occurs six to 12 days after you have conceived. It is an early symptom of getting pregnant and it generally happens during the time when you are expecting your normal menstrual periods. Hence, you may mistake light bleeding during early pregnancy for a regular period.

Causes of implantation bleeding

During conception, a sperm from your partner fertilizes your egg and forms an embryo. The embryo then travels through the fallopian tubes to your uterus. Once in the uterus, the embryo implants itself into the uterine wall. This implantation may break some blood vessels in the uterine wall and cause light bleeding in early stages of pregnancy. This bleeding doesn’t result in any kind of problems for the developing baby.

Implantation bleeding

Other possible causes of bleeding in early pregnancy

Bleeding during early pregnancy can be due to other reasons apart from implantation. If you are having heavy bleeding during early pregnancy with or without cramping or pain, visit your doctor.

Some of other causes of bleeding in early pregnancy are as follows:

  • Sex. Sex may be one of the possible causes of bleeding in early pregnancy because the cervix is very tender and sensitive at this stage.
  • Ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy may be one of the causes of bleeding in early stages of pregnancy. It is a condition in which the embryo implants and develops in any other place outside the uterus such as the fallopian tubes, abdominal cavity, ovaries and cervix (the lower part of the uterus, which connects to the vagina). You may develop vaginal bleeding along with pelvic pain or cramps (particularly one-sided), dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. It’s a life-threatening condition and requires emergency medical aid. 
  • Threatened abortion. A threatened abortion may be one of the causes of bleeding in early pregnancy. In this condition, the fetus is still inside your uterus but the final outcome of the pregnancy is in question. A threatened abortion may occur due to an infection, using certain medicines, or getting involved in a physical trauma. 
  • A complete miscarriage. According to estimates miscarriages occur in about 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies. So, a miscarriage may be the cause of bleeding in early pregnancy 4 weeks. Apart from vaginal bleeding, other symptoms of miscarriage are cramping or pain in lower back or abdomen and passage of tissue or fluid from the vagina. You should visit your doctor if you suffer from these symptoms and you know about your pregnancy. 
  • Molar pregnancy. Molar pregnancy is a rare pregnancy complication in which an abnormal mass of cells rather than a baby develops inside the uterine cavity. It may be one of the causes of bleeding during early pregnancy. Apart from bright red to dark brown colored vaginal bleeding, it may cause symptoms of severe vomiting and nausea, a passage of cysts (grapelike) from the vagina and pelvic pain or pressure. If you suspect that any of your symptoms or signs is due to molar pregnancy, visit your doctor immediately. 
  • Cervical Problems. Cervical problems, including inflammation of the cervix, abnormal growths, or cervical infection may also cause bleeding in the early stages of pregnancy. 
  • Infections. Any type of infection of the vagina or cervix or a sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as herpes, chlamydia or gonorrhea may cause bleeding during early pregnancy. 

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Can you take a pregnancy test during implantation bleeding?

Yes, you can take a pregnancy test during implantation bleeding. By taking home pregnancy tests you measure the levels of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) hormone in the urine. This hormone is only produced while you are pregnant and your blood also contains it. If you take the home pregnancy test according to the guidelines mentioned on the package, the results of the test usually come as accurate. During implantation bleeding your home pregnancy test may come as positive as hCG is present in your urine. 

It is ideal to wait for one week after implantation bleeding in early stages of pregnancy as the results may be more accurate by then. If your home pregnancy test results are positive, you should visit your doctor to confirm your results by getting a blood test.

Risks of bleeding for mother and baby

Risks of bleeding in early pregnancy for mother and baby

The effects and risks of bleeding in early pregnancy depend on the cause of it and whether it can be treated or not. 

  • Ectopic pregnancy: if the cause of your bleeding during early pregnancy is an ectopic pregnancy, it is highly unlikely for the pregnancy to survive. Your risk of getting another ectopic pregnancy in the future may also be increased. When appropriate treatment is given, the prognosis of ectopic pregnancy for the mother is good. 
  • Threatened abortion: if the cause of your bleeding during early pregnancy is a threatened abortion, there is a 50% chance for you to have a normal pregnancy and give birth to a baby. Alternatively, you may have a miscarriage. If during your evaluation your doctor conducts an ultrasound and it shows a fetal heartbeat in your uterus, then the chances for you to have a normal pregnancy are 75 to 90 percent. There may be no risks associated with threatened abortion for the mother. 
  • Complete miscarriage: you will lose the pregnancy during a complete miscarriage. But there may be no risks associated with complete miscarriage for the mother. 
  • Molar pregnancy: in this type of pregnancy there is no formation of a fetus; hence, there is no true pregnancy. A molar pregnancy may have serious complications in the mother including a certain type of cancer, which needs early treatment. 

When should you see a doctor?

It is imperative to see your doctor whenever you have abnormal bleeding or spotting whether you are pregnant or not. Although period like bleeding during early pregnancy is nothing to worry about, still you should visit your doctor. 

Furthermore, if your home pregnancy test results are positive, you should see your doctor to confirm the results of the test. They may also discuss prenatal care or choices for family planning. 

You should also see your doctor if you experience heavy bleeding in early pregnancy as it may indicate causes other than implantation bleeding. 

 

Implantation bleeding refers to the small amount of bleeding that occurs 12 days after the intercourse. It occurs as the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall. It usually occurs during the time you are expecting your normal menstrual period but is lighter than normal menses. It is pink to light brown in color and lasts for a few hours to three days. Some of the other causes of bleeding during early pregnancy may include having sex, ectopic pregnancy, threatened abortion, complete miscarriage, molar pregnancy, cervical problems, and infections. The risks of bleeding during early pregnancy for mother and baby depend on the cause of the bleeding and whether the cause can be treated or not. The fetus cannot survive in an ectopic pregnancy, complete abortion and molar pregnancy. You should see your doctor whenever you notice abnormal vaginal bleeding or when your home pregnancy test results are positive.

https://www.emedicinehealth.com/pregnancy_bleeding/article_em.htm#will_bleeding_during_my_pregnancy_affect_my_baby
https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/how-long-does-implantation-bleeding-last#see-your-doctor
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/implantation-bleeding/faq-20058257
https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/bleeding-during-pregnancy/basics/causes/sym-20050636
http://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/what-is-implantation-bleeding/

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