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What’s Implantation Bleeding? How Can I Tell It Apart from My Period?

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Implantation bleeding is a small amount of bleeding or spotting from the uterus that can happen when someone becomes pregnant. It’s a lot different than a period, which is usually a lot more blood and involves cramping. Sometimes people worry that what they thought was their period is actually implantation bleeding. But it’s important to remember that this is pretty rare!

How does implantation bleeding work?

Implantation bleeding can happen when a fertilized egg sticks to the lining of a uterus. Sometimes, this causes a small amount of the lining to loosen and come out of the vagina. This looks like spotting, which is a small amount of blood. It can happen about 6 to 12 days after having penis-in-vagina sex and sometimes it’s an early sign of pregnancy.

Implantation bleeding only happens in 30 percent of people who get pregnant. That means out of 100 people who get pregnant, only 30 of them will get it. Most people who are pregnant will not have implantation bleeding.

How is implantation bleeding different than a period?

Implantation bleeding and periods look very different. Some signs of it are:

  • Light bleeding that does not require a pad, tampon, or menstrual cup
  • Blood that is brown or pink
  • The bleeding only lasts one or two days
  • Usually no cramping

Often, a person will only notice implantation bleeding when they are wiping after going to the bathroom. This is because the blood is very light! Periods, on the other hand, have very different symptoms. Those are:

  • Heavy blood flow that requires a pad, tampon, or menstrual cup
  • Blood that is bright red
  • Bleeding that lasts 3 to 7 days
  • Cramping

How can I know for sure that it’s my period and not implantation bleeding?

Sometimes it can be confusing to tell the difference between period bleeding and implantation bleeding, especially if you have irregular cycles or if you’re not used to what your period looks like yet. One way to help is to think about your previous periods. What colour was the blood? How heavy were they? If the bleeding you have now is similar to your previous periods, chances are it is a period. And if you have your period that means you are not pregnant!

Sometimes it’s tricky to know what’s going on with your body and that’s ok. If you’re worried about being pregnant, pregnancy tests (even over-the-counter ones) are very accurate if you use them correctly. Most will give you an accurate result if you use them a week after you were expecting your period, but some can work sooner. You can also talk to a doctor if you’re worried that you might be pregnant. They can run blood tests and tell you for sure!

Periods can also start out light and then get heavier as they progress. If you notice light bleeding and aren’t sure if it’s your period, you can wait a day or two. If the bleeding gets heavier or continues, it’s probably your period and not implantation bleeding.

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