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Am I Pregnant or Menstruating? Implantation Bleeding vs. Menstruation

Am I Pregnant or Menstruating? Implantation Bleeding vs. Menstruation

Implantation Bleeding vs. Menstruation

Is it that time of the month, or is it a sign of early pregnancy? Understanding the difference between implantation bleeding vs. menstruation bleeding may help us alleviate some anxiety. In order to understand these two and their differences, let’s clearly define each.

Implantation Bleeding

Implantation bleeding refers to a small amount of spotting or bleeding that may present around 10 to 14 days after successful conception. This phenomena occurs due to the implantation of a fertilized egg onto the walls of the uterus.

Menstrual Bleeding

Menstrual bleeding typically occurs when the endometrium is sloughed off at the start of the menstrual cycle. This occurs due to the failure of the endometrium to maintain itself after undergoing changes that prepare it for the implantation of a fertilized egg. Menstrual bleeding typically lasts for 3-5 days, but may be as short as 1 day or as long as 8 days. The amount may vary from person to person, but typically ranges from 30mL to 80 mL.

Implantation Bleeding vs. Menstruation: The Similarities

Since menstrual bleeding varies from person to person, it is very difficult to identify whether what you’re experiencing is implantation bleeding or menstruation. However, there are some general characteristics of implantation bleeding that may give you an understanding as to what is happening.

White ‘Menstruation’ Before Period: What Does It Mean?

Implantation Bleeding vs. Menstruation: The Differences

Listed below are characteristics that may help you differentiate implantation bleeding from menstruation.

Color

Implantation bleeding is typically brown in color, whereas menstrual blood may start off as pink or brown, before turning crimson red.

Strength of flow

Implantation bleeding tends to be light, or look like spotting. Menstrual bleeding is variable, ranging from light spotting to heavy bleeding.

Length of flow

Implantation bleeding may last from two to four days while a period may be from one to eight days, or longer.

Clotting

Implantation bleeding presents with clots while menstrual bleeding does not usually present with clots, unless the patient experiences heavy periods.

Consistency

Implantation bleeding is typically light, while period blood may begin light but become heavier over time.

Cramping

Cramps during implantation bleeding are light, and short in duration. Menstrual cramps may be light or strong depending on the person.

If you are familiar with what your typical menstrual features are, a deviation may mean you are experiencing implantation bleeding. For example, if you are usually a heavy bleeder and your bleeding typically lasts for 7 days, but after having sexual intercourse around 2 weeks ago, you notice that your period is lighter and lasts for 2-3 days, you may need to seek consult with your obstetrician, as this may be implantation bleeding.

Implantation Bleeding vs. Menstruation: Should I Take a Pregnancy Test?

After comparing what you’re experiencing to the features above, and you feel that you may indeed be pregnant, you may take a pregnancy test to confirm your suspicions. This can be done in the clinic with your obstetrician (blood pregnancy test) or at home with a commercially available kit (urine pregnancy test). However, you should wait at least 21 days from the day of your last sexual intercourse, in order to get an accurate result.

Key takeaway

When it comes to implantation bleeding vs menstruation, they may look very similar. Being mindful of your own period and noticing subtle differences may help you determine which is which. You should also look out for other signs of pregnancy, such as mood swings, nausea and vomiting (morning sickness), breast tenderness, generally feeling fatigued, body pains, and headaches.

Learn more about Menstruation here.

Ovulation Calculator

Ovulation Calculator

Tracking your period cycle, determines your most fertile days and increases your chance of conceiving or applying for birth control.

Ovulation Calculator

Tracking your period cycle, determines your most fertile days and increases your chance of conceiving or applying for birth control.

Ovulation Calculator

Cycle Length

(days)

28

Period Duration

(days)

7

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Doing a pregnancy test, https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/trying-for-a-baby/doing-a-pregnancy-test/

Accessed April 15, 2021

 

Physiology, Menstrual Cycle, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK500020/

Accessed April 15, 2021

 

What is implantation bleeding?, https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-symptoms/what-is-implantation-bleeding-24176/

Accessed April 15, 2021

 

A review of mechanisms of implantation, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5769129/

Accessed April 15, 2021

 

Implantation and Establishment of Pregnancy in Human and Nonhuman Primates, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5098399/ 

Accessed April 15, 2021

 

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532950

Accessed April 15, 2021

 

What Color Is Implantation Bleeding?, https://www.memorialcare.org/blog/what-color-implantation-bleeding

Accessed May 21, 2021

 

Is implantation bleeding normal in early pregnancy?, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/implantation-bleeding/faq-20058257

Accessed May 21, 2021

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Written by Gerard Tamayo Updated May 23
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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