Implantation Bleeding or Period: How Can You Tell the Difference? 1901

Regardless of whether or not you’re trying to become pregnant or hoping you aren’t pregnant, the question implantation bleeding or period  is rather important. This raises another important question, just how do you tell: implantation bleeding or period?
implantation bleeding or period

What is implantation bleeding?

Implantation bleeding is bleeding that occurs as a result of a fertilized egg implanting in the uterine wall. This bleeding is the first recognizable sign of pregnancy and does not occur in all cases.

What is menstrual bleeding?

While most women already know what a period is, just for knowledge’s sake, a menstrual cycle is on average 28 days in length, but may vary from woman to woman. In this time, an egg should be released (about mid-way through your cycle), if the egg is fertilized it implants in the uterine wall and implantation bleeding may occur, if it’s not fertilized this egg travels on and is shed with the uterine lining. If you don’t release an egg, your period may be delayed, but you will likely still experience bleeding. Ovulation, or the release of this egg, can be confirmed by charting your basal body temperature.

Implantation bleeding or period? How can you tell?

Now that you understand what both are, let’s talk about how you can tell them apart. Implantation bleeding will generally occur 6 to 12 days after intercourse or ovulation so pay attention to when your period should be and when this mysterious bleeding occurs. If you experiencing bleeding sightly earlier than you should, this could be a sign of implantation bleeding.

The difference

Implantation blood is usually a different color than your average menstrual blood being either darker and more brown (old blood) or lighter and pinkish (very new, light bleeding). Given the implanting egg is the size of a pinhead, implantation bleeding is very light and shorter in duration than your regular cycle– unless of course you don’t normally have one. Implantation usually just appears as just the faintest pink showing up on toilet paper when you use the bathroom or even just one to two tiny spots of blood. Implantation will not cause heavy bleeding, however, there are other ways one can be pregnant and still experience period-like bleeding. Some women also get a slight hormone dip at implantation that can cause both a temperature dip on basal body charts and possibly some light spotting. This type of bleeding is not a heavy flow.

Keep in mind that only about one third of women experience implantation bleeding. If you suspect pregnancy or have had unprotected sex, don’t assume that you’re not pregnant simply because you didn’t experience this symptom. Some women become pregnant and exhibit no symptoms what so ever.

Beyond answering the question implantation bleeding or period, a pregnancy test will always be the best way to ease your mind. Be sure to take the test after your regular period should have been and not immediately after the bleeding. Even if it is implantation bleeding, a pregnancy test will probably still read negative as hCG levels will be insufficient. On average it takes about 48 hours to get even a faint positive test.

If you are trying to decide between implantation bleeding or period, you may also enjoy these other pages on Life with Gremlins:
How to Calculate Your Chances of Pregnancy (includes quiz link)
Period blood colors and Textures
Early Signs of Pregnancy Quiz
Period While Pregnant: Is It Possible?

Did you experience bleeding during your pregnancy or did you have bleeding and think you were pregnant, but weren’t? We want to hear your story. We have a page set up for them here.

A note on comments: I usually respond to comments within 24 hours. All comments are moderated before they appear on the site to eliminate spam. I reply to each and every one as I approve them, but please remember, I am not a doctor nor a replacement for medical care. I can’t possibly tell you if you are or are not pregnant over the Internet, and I cannot diagnose you just based on symptoms over the Internet either. I do have a medical background (medical assisting) and am a mother of four who struggled with infertility as well as multiple miscarriages, but I am not a doctor nor claim to be one.

In an effort to slay the spam monster and ensure no comment is left unread, your comments are moderated and won't appear until approved. Sorry about that, and thanks for reading!

1,901 thoughts on “Implantation Bleeding or Period: How Can You Tell the Difference?

  • Calli

    My cycle is between 30-41 days. My last cycle started Oct 17, 2017 and lasted the usual 5 days ending on the 21st. I had spotting when I wiped from Nov 10-17. It wasn’t enough to even wear a pad. I have never spotted in-between cycles. I usually cramp really bad when AF comes around but little to no cramping with the spotting. My husband and I had sex on Oct 23,25,29, Nov 1,5 and 7th. I took a HPT and BFN, what could this be?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      30-41 days is a big range, if your cycles are irregular there’s probably some form of underlying hormonal imbalance that may have also caused your bleed, though with such a wide range, it’s also hard to say when you ovulated. You could either wait, see what happens when your next cycle is due or test again 14 days after the last sexual act.

  • Naomi foster

    Hi I started the 21 day pill about a week and a half ago and iv missed a few I think I only took 4 of them and missed the rest of them. Then about 4 days ago I had brown like period which has now then red colour but It stoped for a lil while yesterday then It started again I have cramps which appear every now and again and before I i started on the pill I had unprotected sex.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      The pill won’t prevent pregnancy from an act prior to use, and 4 days was likely to have any affect on your ability to become pregnant after use either. Though erratic hormonal birth control use can also lead to spotting and cycle changes.

  • Frances

    I had a miscarroage 6 weeks ago, have been on pill for 3 weeks now, i went to toilet yesterday and there was bright bright red blood in the toilet, tiny bit when i wiped but nothing yesterday. Would this be my body getting used to the pill?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      It’s common for those starting the pill to have irregular bleeding that first month, yes, possibly more so in your case because your body may still also be recovering from the miscarriage. I am sorry for your loss and hope things get back to normal for you soon.

  • MB

    My husband and I had unprotected sex on Saturday October 30 and I ovulated on Monday November 2. I was supposed to start my period on 11/14 and I woke up to some cramping and light pink blood when I wiped. The rest of of the day I had barely any blood and it was dark- barely on the end of my tampon. I took a pregnancy test that night and it was negative. I am now on day 2 of my period and I again have had barely any blood and it has been dark- My period is usually very heavy. Should I test again and if so when?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      I would wait about a week. In many cases like this the light bleed is just a slow-starting period. Either way the occasional light cycle is nothing to be concerned about, it’s a pattern of irregularity you want to look out for.