Why does implantation bleeding happen?

Implantation Bleeding

It’s thought that up to 30 per cent of women have some spotting around the time when they may have expected their period to start

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It’s called implantation bleeding and is nothing to worry about - although, obviously if you have any concerns you should always consult your GP.

Implantation bleeding signals that an egg has been fertilised and has implanted into the lining of your uterus. This typically happens in the seven to 12 days following ovulation, assuming your egg is fertilised.

Why does implantation bleeding happen?

When your ovary releases an egg it travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus. If it is fertilised on its journey, then it will implant in the endometrium (the lining of the uterus, which is shed each month during your menstrual period) typically around nine days after you ovulate. The endometrium is rich in blood and nutrients, and when the fertilised egg starts to burrow in a small amount of bleeding may occur. Occasionally fertilised eggs fail to implant and if this happens, it will leave your body when your period starts.

How will I know it’s not my period?

An implantation bleed will usually occur a few days before your period is due, and it doesn’t look like a normal menstrual period – it’s more like a pinkish or brownish discharge and there won’t be very much of it: just spotting. If it is your period then it will become heavier

Looking out for early pregnancy symptoms may not be much help, since the really early ones, like tender breasts, are also common signs that your period is about to start. However, symptoms such as cramps and backache are unlikely to accompany implantation bleeding and the bleeding also won’t become heavier.

Keep in mind that if you’ve already done a home pregnancy test and confirmed that you are pregnant, and it’s more than 10 days since your egg was fertilised, any bleeding you may see won’t be implantation bleeding. If you do experience bleeding in pregnancy, contact your doctor as it could signal a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

How soon can I test to find out if I am pregnant?

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant and you had sex around the time you were due to ovulate and then experience what you suspect may be an implantation bleed, roughly a week before your period would have been due, it likely is a good indication that you have been successful.

When it comes to actually testing, many home pregnancy tests claim to be sensitive enough to detect pregnancy hormones in the urine on the day you miss your period if they are used correctly and you test first thing in the morning. However these tests are expensive so it’s worth gritting your teeth and hanging on for as long as you can bear to before testing!

If you can’t resist the temptation, it’s unlikely that the spotting will interfere with the test result – if there is human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in your urine, the test will be positive. If you test negative but your period does not start when expected, wait a day or so to allow any HCG that’s present to build up in your body.

The information in this feature is intended for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your health, the health of your child or the health of someone you know, please consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional.

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