What Does Implantation Bleeding Look Like?
Clinically reviewed by Cindy Richardson, CMPE
When an embryo (fertilized egg) attaches to the wall of the uterus, a person may notice light bleeding or spotting. This is common and considered a normal part of pregnancy.
This article provides information on implantation bleeding, including when it occurs, how long it lasts, and how it differs from menstrual bleeding.
When Does Implantation Bleeding OccurApproximately 25% of pregnant people experience implantation bleeding. It occurs six to 12 days after the egg is fertilized. The action of the embryo attaching to the uterine wall displaces a small amount of blood that leaves the uterus and exits the body.
Following implantation, the uterus starts producing human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)—a hormone that helps keep the uterine lining thick to support the embryo. The presence of HCG is what causes a positive pregnancy test.
How Long Does Implantation Bleeding Last?The duration of implantation bleeding varies. For some people, it lasts just a few hours. For others, it continues for up to two days. Rarely does implantation bleeding last three days or longer.
Implantation Bleeding vs. Period Bleeding: How Do You Know?Several factors distinguish implantation bleeding from period bleeding. One is duration. Implantation bleeding lasts up to 48 hours, while the average menstrual period is around a week. Another difference is the amount of blood. Implantation bleeding is spotty, whereas period bleeding typically starts heavy and lightens over time.
The color of the blood is also different. In implantation bleeding, it’s brown or dark brown with a hint of pink. Period blood is bright red, pink, or brown. And there is little or no cramping with implantation bleeding, while a period can cause significant cramping for a few days before it starts.
How Should I Handle Implantation Bleeding?Implantation bleeding doesn’t require treatment, and there are no associated complications. It resolves on its own as the pregnancy progresses. You can simply wear a panty liner or pad until it stops. If blood soaks through a pad, it probably isn’t implantation bleeding.
Other Causes of Non-Menstrual Vaginal Bleeding
Besides implantation bleeding, various other conditions can cause vaginal bleeding between periods, including:
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Placenta previa (when the placenta covers the opening in the cervix) or placental abruption (detached placenta)
- Sexual intercourse
- Uterine fibroids or polyps
- Certain hormonal or fertility treatments
Talk with Your Baptist Health Doctor About Implantation BleedingImplantation bleeding is a normal part of pregnancy that 1 in 4 pregnant people experience. If it occurs as described above, there’s no need to contact your doctor. However, if you have vaginal bleeding and are unsure about the cause or are concerned about it, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor or care team.
Our mother and baby care experts are happy to talk with you about what you’re experiencing. And if appropriate, they can diagnose the issue and prescribe treatment.
But if you’re trying to conceive and experience implantation bleeding, you can treat it as a positive sign. You may want to wait until implantation bleeding stops and you miss a period before taking a pregnancy test, as it takes some time for your HCG level to rise.
Then, if you get a positive result, you can look forward to your pregnancy progressing!