Implantation Bleeding or Period: How Can You Tell the Difference? 1369

implantation bleeding or periodRegardless 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?

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 when you shouldn’t, this could be a sign of implantation bleeding.

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 light spotting, 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. If it is implantation bleeding, the pregnancy test will probably still read negative as hCG levels in the blood 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 find this article on period blood color and texture changes useful as well as this guide on judging your chances of pregnancy, this answer as to when you can take a pregnancy test with accurate results and exploration into just when pregnancy symptoms are 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.

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1,369 thoughts on “Implantation Bleeding or Period: How Can You Tell the Difference?

  • Mona Wilson

    Hi, I had a miscarriage on August 31st.

    Date of last period (also first period after miscarriage which last 8 days): November 3
    Unprotected sex: November 6
    Started birth control: November 6
    Brown spotting: November 15-now

    What is going on??

    Also, just to add on… I did start and stop my birth control randomly during this time because I was having surgery at this time. On October 16th I started one pack of a BC then stopped on October 25th. I then began again on November 6th and stopped on November 15th because I started spotting.

    • unwirklich admin

      It would be highly unlikely to conceive just 3 days after a period, especially the first after a loss. I would bet between the loss and the stop/starting of pills your hormone levels are just a mess. Things should even out in the next month or two.

  • Aizha Young

    Ok so I started to spot Pink creamy discharge and then light spotting on 11/29/16 Started Bleeding 11/30/16 Not Heavy Light 11/2/16 hardly fulling up a pad Like it’s stopping idk if this a period or not

  • Anamyous

    My fiance and I are trying to have a baby. I recently got off birth control two months ago and I have a my period since then. My period was November 6 and was off November 12. We had sex November 13,18,20,21,22 and 26 (sorry i am tracking for the doctor) and my ovulation date is supposed to be on the 19th according to the app. On sunday on the 27th i had very light bleeding only could be seen on the tissue. My pregnancy tests have been negative. could i be pregnant or is it breakthrough bleeding?

    • unwirklich admin

      To become pregnant semen needs to be present in the 24-48 hours after ovulation. Semen can survive roughly 5 days, but is most viable those first 48 hours. So you would want to aim for intercourse within 48 hours of your ovulation date. Since you suggest that was the 19th, it’s unlike you’re pregnant from intercourse the 12 and 26th I’m afraid.

  • Sophsum

    I’m on the birth control pill but recently started on antibiotics, and had sex without a condom two days after starting the antibiotics. I’ve heard that antibiotics can lower the effectiveness of the pill, and I started breakthrough bleeding 2 days after I had sex. It has now been a full week since I had sex and two days since I stopped the antibiotic, and I am still experiencing the breakthrough bleeding. I was due to get my period around this time but I can’t tell if I got it or not due to the bleeding I already had. Could I be pregnant?

    • unwirklich admin

      Antibiotics actually only lower the effectiveness of certain pills, but no birth control is without fail either. To me this sounds like an early period, but you may want to take a test after your period should have been to be sure.

  • Edu

    Hey so okayim going to go back all the way in august .. on august 8th me n my girlfriend had sex the condom broke but i didnt ejaculate there was only pre cum and we herd u could still get pregnant w that so 7 hours after we had sex she took a plan b pill. She got her period one week earlier she got it on augusst 12 okay a few days later she experienced some brown stuff come out and it lasted like 5-6 days then right after that she got her period on the 7th of September again it was a normal period and some time after she took the pill and had her period she took a pregnancy test and it came out not pregnant .then on September 26 me and my girlfriend had sex again , we had protected sex and i pulled out before i ejaculated. the day before we had sex on september 25 i masturbated but i peed 6 times in total after tht then on the 26 we had sex in the morning and we used a condom and i pulked out as i said before. Okay we where still worried so a week later on October 3rd-4th one of those days she took a pregnancy test it came out negative, then she got her period on October 6th it was a normal period. Then on November her period was 4 days late it came November 8th and ended November 14th and was less heavy but it still came. But okay on the 27th she told me how some brown stuff came out like a little bit. And she read about it and it said how it could be pregnancy And also the last day of her fertilization window was friday the 25th. And we havent had sex ever scince that day in September . She took another pregnancy test yesterday November 28 came out as not pregnant. She got worried and called walgreens pharmacy and the lady was like u could have your period and be pregnant at the same time and all this stuff so i want to kno what are the chances and should we be worried ? And also the lady said that it could be that the test can come out negative but be positive. My gf said while she was on the phone the lady sounded like she was in a rush and my girlfriend was nervous while explaining it and explained it out of order.

    • unwirklich admin

      It’s uncommon to have bleeding multiple months in pregnancy, especially so timely as you’re describing. It’s not impossible, just very unlikely. Unfortunately, if she’s getting negative urine tests, a blood test would be the only other option to check.

  • Anonymous

    I had sex for the first time Friday night. I bled, assuming due to my hymen breaking. I’m supposed to get my period around this time, so when I noticed brownish blood in my underwear Saturday afternoon I put a tampon in, but it came out clean. Sunday I had red blood and Monday as well, but my tampons have been clean. He wore a condom and pulled out before he finished and then went back in, but put another condom on quickly. Should I be worried about being pregnant? What is the blood?

    • unwirklich admin

      My guess, if the blood is scant and bright red, is it’s still bleeding from the intercourse itself. Implantation takes a minimum of 6 days.

  • Aranthika

    I ve gone through intercourse on 14th Nov and it was for d first tym where he dint even penetrate and am a virgin yet,may be he have ejaculated near my vegina area, so on 26th I got a little spotting mixed with a white and I dint bleed for the whole day, so on 27th I started to bleed which is same like my period I mean bit heavy bleeding. .so can I b pregnant? ?

    • unwirklich admin

      It’s not impossible if you happened to be ovulating and the ejaculation was close to your vagina, but the chances are very, very, very low, coupled with timely bleeding and I can almost promise you aren’t pregnant.

  • Anonymous

    My last period was October 19 my period was die to come on November 16 but no sign of period. I took 3 pregnancy tests all negative and 1 blood test negative. I usually don’t show up in urine test until about 8 weeks but normally blood tests show up positive. Could I still be pregnant?

  • Anonymous

    I need advice about if I could possibly be pregnant. I started my last period Nov.4 and continued to take my new birth control on the 7th as normal. The 13th I had unprotected sex but was still taking my birth control on time all the way until the 18th. On the 19th I had unprotected sex and forgot to take the pill in the 20th when I remembered I couldn’t find pack and then stopped taking the pills. I did not take any plan B or emergency contraceptive. On the 23rd I began to experience and bright pink spotting that later turned brown accompanied with slight cramping. The 24th and 25th the bleeding became slightly heavier but still a funky color it is now the 26th and all bleeding has stopped I am still slightly cramping my breasts are sore and am experiencing nausea. Could I possibly be pregnant and it be implantation bleeding or breakthrough bleeding from stopping the pill?

    • unwirklich admin

      Starting and stopping birth control as you describe here would cause irregular bleeding as you essentially created an artificial hormone imbalance. Even so, it wouldn’t be impossible to be pregnant either, so I’d just go ahead and take a test to be sure.

  • Anonymous

    Hi just over 5 weeks ago I had unprotected sex and he did ejaculate inside me, I could not get emergency contraception until two days later, I bled a few days after taking EC but it was really light and only lasted around 2 days. I’ve not had any sort of bleeding since and I’m more than 10 days late for my period, I’ve had a lot of bloating and heart burn and have been told these are signs of pregnancy yet when i’ve take tests they’ve came back negative? Am I best going to the doctors to double check this?

    • unwirklich admin

      EC can upset your period, especially if taken late in your cycle, so it’s possible that’s the issue. As to whether you should see a doctor, that’s your comfort level. You could continue to wait, see what happens by time your next cycle is due or you could just go now.

  • Anonymous

    I have never had sex but I am experiencing pregnancy symptoms such as implantation bleeding. What could this mean? I am also 14 and I do not have a regular period cycle yet.

    • unwirklich admin

      You can’t be pregnant without having had intercourse. Pregnancy symptoms are just hormonal imbalance, which is quite common in your teens. The implantation bleeding is likely just spotting.

  • Helpme123

    Hi I was wondering if you could offer some insight on my current situation! My last period was October 26th and I’m on a 28 day cycle using birth control. I had unprotected sex on Nov. 10 (one week ago from today) and on Nov. 15 I began to bleed. I thought I got my period early so I put a tampon in but after several hours there was barley any blood. (Also the blood was bright red just like my normal period blood). So this morning, the 16th I experienced more blood. I went to the doctor yesterday and she said it could’ve been breakthrough bleeding but part of me thinks she didn’t fully know what she was talking about. Is implantation bleeding even possible before a missed period? Could I be pregnant?

    • unwirklich admin

      Implantation bleeding is possible before a missed period, yes, but break through bleeding and implantation aren’t the same thing. Most commonly break through bleeding refers to bleeding that occurs close to when your period should be due as a result of low early pregnancy hormone levels, but sometimes people also use the term to refer to bleeding that occurs when it shouldn’t during your cycle as a result of low normal cycle hormones (progesterone). It’s hard to say which she meant, but 5 days after intercourse, no, the bleeding wouldn’t be pregnancy related. Implantation takes a minimum of 6 days.

  • Alison

    Hi your article was extremely informative compared to the others I’ve read. However I would like to know if I could be pregnant : I had protected sex with my boyfriend last month and furthermore we had used a second pull out method.I have alrdy gotten my period ON TIME and bled for about 7 days (which is normal for me) . Is it possible I’m pregnant? Or I’m in the clear? Thank you ☻ your respond would mean so much

    • unwirklich admin

      It’s not impossible, but with timely bleeding that was normal for you, it’s pretty unlikely. A test is always the easiest answer.

  • Gloria

    Hi i had sex on 12 nov for the first time and then after two days i had blood when in the pee. This has happened twice till now. I am really worried is everything okay with me?

    • unwirklich admin

      If this was your first time having intercourse, bleeding is entirely normal. Implantation takes a minimum of 6 days, so 2 days later is not implantation. Keep in mind though, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t still become pregnant if the sex was unprotected and during a fertile time.

      • lizzy

        Enter your comment here…hi…….i had an unprotected sex on d 8th of October,buh he ddnt release al into mi……..nw i had my nrmal period on d 12th dae to da tym wch was also supposed to b d due date for my period…..but v bin vin sum lykly pregnancy symptoms after den…..i did a urine test nd it testd negative,i have also had my regular 5 days period ds month again…..buh please m confused
        m i pregnant