How Long Does Implantation Bleeding Last?

How Long Does Implantation Bleeding Last?
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Implantation bleeding doesn’t last a long time; in fact, with some women implantation bleeding lasts such a short time that they don’t notice it at all. The duration of implantation bleeding may be just a few hours or it could last a few days. Unlike spotting before your period, implantation spotting doesn’t result in a period.

For many women, implantation bleeding or spotting is the first visible sign of pregnancy. The spotting happens when the fertilized egg implants itself on the lining of the uterus. However, because symptoms accompanying implantation bleeding are similar to premenstrual syndrome, you could easily mistake the short period of bleeding as a sign of the start of your regular period. It should also be mentioned that not all women experience implantation bleeding and the first sign of pregnancy is when they miss their period.

To know how to tell the difference between implantation bleeding and the start of the menstrual flow, it’s important to know how long implantation bleeding lasts. The duration of spotting due to implantation can also help to know if the light vaginal bleeding is something to worry about.

What is Implantation Bleeding and How does it Look Like?

Implantation bleeding looks like small pink or rust-colored spots on your underwear. Obstetrician Dr. Yvonne Tobah from the Mayo Clinic says that implantation bleeding happens when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterus (endometrial) lining. This happens about 10 to 14 days after conception.1

According to information published by the National Institutes of Health, slight bleeding that doesn’t last very long occurs in about one-quarter of all pregnancies. It is also common that some light bleeding lasts into the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.2

How Long Does Implantation Bleeding Last?

The length of implantation bleeding differs from woman to woman. Not all women experience the same pregnancy symptoms and not all implantation spotting lasts the same length of time.

According to Dr. Traci C. Johnson on WebMD, implantation bleeding lasts from a few hours to a few days. The length of time that light implantation spotting occurs will depend on the amount of blood that comes from the uterus.3

The longest time that implantation bleeding lasts should be no longer than a couple of days. It is rare that bleeding associated with implantation goes on for more than 2 days.

Dr. Johnson says that the amount of blood released will be very light compared to spotting before your period or other reasons for vaginal spotting. If you think that you may be pregnant and the light vaginal bleeding lasts for more than a few days, it is best to visit your doctor for a checkup and to make sure there is no issue. The duration of spotting associated with pregnancy should not last for much longer than 2 days.

When Implantation Bleeding Happens

Most women who want to get pregnant look for the very first indications that conception has occurred. Because each woman’s menstrual cycle is different, ovulation may happen on different days, and the length of time implantation bleeding occurs also varies.

Dr. Nivin Todd from WebMD explains the general time frame when you can expect some spotting to occur if you are pregnant. The steps before you may notice a short duration of implantation spotting are as follows:4

  1. About 2 weeks before your period, you will ovulate and release an egg.
  2. Hormones are released and the lining of the uterus thickens and becomes ready for a fertilized egg to implant itself.
  3. The egg spends about 24 hours in the fallopian tube waiting for a sperm to reach it.
  4. If fertilization is successful the egg will start to divide before moving up the fallopian tube.
  5. Implantation occurs when the egg attaches to the lining of the uterus.
  6. You may notice a short spell of light bleeding when this happens.

So, if you are pregnant, you may see light spotting that lasts for up to 2 days and occurs 6 to 12 days after conception.

Implantation Spotting and Discharge

All women have some milky white discharge as part of their monthly menstrual cycle. During the short period of implantation bleeding, you may notice an increase in discharge. The amount of discharge you have during pregnancy will vary, but it generally increases in volume and thickness towards the end of your pregnancy.

Sometimes you may notice some brown discharge in the duration of your pregnancy. Doctors from the National Health Service say that it’s normal to lose a small amount of blood during pregnancy. This may appear as brown discharge; however, you should speak to your doctor about any abnormal discharge during pregnancy that is colored and smells strange.5

5 Differences Between Implantation Bleeding and Menstrual Flow

If you have some spotting or light bleeding that lasts a day or two, there are 5 basic ways you can tell if this is implantation bleeding or not. Here are ways to tell menstrual flow apart from implantation bleeding.

1. Length of time implantation bleeding lasts

Implantation bleeding only lasts a short time and may just happen for a few hours. Because only very light bleeding from the uterus happens with implantation, the length of time spotting occurs is also very short.

On the other hand, menstrual blood flow lasts much longer. Doctors from the Office on Women’s Health say that bleeding during an average period lasts from 3 to 5 days. However, with some women, menstruation bleeding can last the same length of time as implantation bleeding – just 2 days in some cases.6

2. Flow

One of the biggest differences between a short spell of implantation bleeding and menstruation is the flow. Dr. Trina Pagano on WebMD says that implantation spotting is very slight, and may not happen all.7

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average blood loss during a period is about 2 to 3 tablespoons. However, some women bleed for longer and can lose more blood.8

Dr. Traci C. Johnson on WebMD says that what is considered a “normal” period depends on each woman. Light, moderate, and even heavy menstrual flow can all be considered normal.9

Color of spotting

The color of implantation spotting is another way to tell apart bleeding at the start of pregnancy and period blood. The American Pregnancy Association says that spotting on underwear or toilet paper from implantation will be a dark, rusty-brown color or light pink.10

According to doctors from WebMD, menstrual blood is a red color and may only become dark brown (or even black) near the end of your menstruation.11

The brown blood color in both cases is from the body expelling old blood that has turned a brownish color because of oxidizing.

Timing

As well as taking note of the length bleeding lasts to know if it is due to implantation, the timing of bleeding can help identify if you are pregnant.

However, timing is only a sure indication of bleeding associated with implantation if you have regular periods. The American Pregnancy Association says that usually, spotting due to implantation takes place up to 2 weeks after you ovulate. If your periods are regular, you will be able to tell if the spotting is before your period or not.10

Pelvic cramping

There is also a difference between implantation cramping and pelvic discomfort before your period. Cramping is only very light when the fertilized egg implants into the uterus lining. However, Dr. Trina Pagano says that implantation cramping can resemble menstrual cramps, but they will be short-lived and slight.9

Implantation bleeding vs period spotting – the conclusion

There is a marked difference in the time implantation bleeding lasts in comparison to period bleeding. The short duration of implantation bleeding – between a few hours and 48 hours – is much shorter when compared to menstrual flow. Also, the associated symptoms with implantation bleeding don’t last long at all and are much lighter when compared to period.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Implantation Bleeding

Many women have other questions regarding the length of time implantation spotting occurs and its related symptoms. Here are answers to questions you may have about implantation bleeding:

Does implantation bleeding always last a short time?

If implantation does happen then you can expect that it won’t last any longer than 48 hours. However, not every woman notices spotting due to implantation and about three-quarters of women don’t have any signs of bleeding at all.

Can implantation bleeding last longer than 3 days?

Implantation bleeding shouldn’t last longer than 3 days. According to doctors from the American Pregnancy Association, bleeding caused by implantation lasts up to 2 days.10

However, if you are pregnant, you may experience some normal spotting during your first trimester. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say that some women notice light spotting during early pregnancy and this isn’t usually anything to worry about.12

Is implantation bleeding heavy?

No. Implantation bleeding is never heavy. The spotting should be a light pink color or resemble dark brown spots. According to Dr. Yvonne Tobah from the Mayo Clinic, the spotting should stop within a couple of days and is nothing to worry about.1

Does spotting last into pregnancy?

Yes, it can. It is normal to have some light vaginal bleeding during the first trimester of pregnancy. Certified nurse-midwife, Mary Murry from the Mayo Clinic says that there are many causes of bleeding during pregnancy that aren’t harmful to the baby or mother. Sometimes, increased blood flow to the pelvis or a small scrape in the genitals could be the cause.14

However, you should mention all vaginal bleeding during pregnancy to your obstetrician as it can be a sign of miscarriage or another life-threatening condition.

Implantation Bleeding and Other Signs of Pregnancy

During the couple of days that implantation bleeding lasts and throughout the following weeks, you will start to notice other signs that you are pregnant. Many of these pregnancy symptoms happen because of hormonal changes in your body.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that some of the most notable early signs of pregnancy are the following:15

Changes in breast size and tenderness. Changes in the size of your breasts happen around the same time as implantation bleeding. As well as your breasts getting larger, they may become sore to touch and extra sensitive, especially in the first few weeks. You may also notice bumps around your areola as your Montgomery glands become enlarged.

Increased need to pee. You will also find that you need to pee more often than usual. This is because of extra pressure on your bladder and your kidneys start producing more fluid than usual.

Nausea. Nausea and feeling like you need to throw up doesn’t just happen in the morning. It can happen at any time of day. Sometimes, you get the dry heaves and nothing comes up. The Mayo Clinic says that feelings of sickness can start about 4 weeks after becoming pregnant, but sometimes, even earlier.

Fatigue. With all the hormonal changes in your body, you will also start to feel more fatigued than usual. This can also start around the same time as implantation bleeding and last for a few weeks.

What to Remember about Implantation Bleeding

It is good to remember that implantation bleeding that lasts one or two days at the start of pregnancy is completely normal. If you notice that the vaginal bleeding last longer than it should or gets heavier at the start of your pregnancy, you should consult with your doctor.

Some light bleeding can carry on for the first few weeks of pregnancy and if it is light and doesn’t last a long time, it is normal. Dr. Traci C. Johnson on WebMD says that serious causes of pregnancy bleeding are:3

  • Miscarriage. This will be accompanied by severe cramping and tissue passing from the vagina.
  • Ectopic pregnancy. This is a life-threatening condition where the embryo implants outside of the uterus. Symptoms are lightheadedness and strong lower abdominal cramping.

Reasons for Vaginal Spotting with No Implantation

If you notice signs of implantation spotting but then you get your period, it means that you are not pregnant. What could be the reasons for spotting before your period that lasts longer than implantation bleeding? Here are two of the most common reasons:

Stress. Long-term emotional or psychological stress can mess with your hormones and result in having irregular periods. According to Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet, stress can interfere with your periods and cause spotting after your period, heavier periods, or even make your periods stop!16

Ovarian cysts. Ovarian cysts are considered as a normal function in the menstrual monthly cycle. Sometimes, the cysts on your ovaries don’t disappear as they should but fill up with fluid. According to Dr. Sarah Marshall on eMedicineHealth, ovarian cysts can cause spotting after or before your period, abdominal cramps and discomfort, nausea, and lower back pain. If they rupture, you may suffer from severe abdominal discomfort and abnormal vaginal bleeding.17

If you are concerned about ovarian cysts, then please read my article on how to spot symptoms of ovarian cysts.

Other causes of spotting before your period are uterine fibroids, urethral prolapse, menopause, and thyroid disease. These health conditions are reasons never to ignore spotting with no period.

When to See a Doctor

It’s important to keep track of your menstrual cycle to spot signs of spotting and monitor how long they last. Implantation bleeding is temporary and the spotting should stop on its own. Of course, if you think you are pregnant, you need to visit your doctor for a pregnancy test and start your course of prenatal care.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that any abnormal bleeding during pregnancy should be reported to your consultant. Vaginal bleeding, even if it is only short-lived can be a sign of miscarriage, cervical problems, preterm labor, cervical cancer, infections, or placental abruption.

Therefore you should speak to your doctor about any vaginal bleeding during pregnancy that lasts longer than a day during your first trimester. During your second trimester, if bleeding lasts for more than a few hours, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately.18

Read my other related articles:

Article Sources:

  1. MayoClinic. Is implantation bleeding in early pregnancy normal?
  2. NIH. Common signs of pregnancy.
  3. WebMD. Bleeding during pregnancy.
  4. WebMD. Understanding conception.
  5. NHS. Vaginal discharge in pregnancy.
  6. WomensHealth. Menstruation and the menstrual cycle.
  7. WebMD. Pregnancy symptoms.
  8. CDC. Heavy menstrual bleeding.
  9. WebMD. Pregnancy symptoms.
  10. AmericanPregnancy. What is implantation bleeding?
  11. WebMD. Menstrual blood problems.
  12. ACOG. Bleeding during early pregnancy.
  13. Am Fam Physician.2009 Jun 1;79(11):985-94.
  14. MayoClinic. Pregnancy bleeding: what should you do?
  15. MayoClinic. Getting pregnant.
  16. MedicineNet. Vaginal bleeding.
  17. eMedicineHealth. Ovarian cysts.
  18. MayoClinic. Bleeding during pregnancy.
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