Implantation Bleeding or Period: How Can You Tell the Difference? 2079

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!

2,079 thoughts on “Implantation Bleeding or Period: How Can You Tell the Difference?

  • Baric

    Hi I had a light bleeding on 15th march.. But
    I wake up nd dnt see any blood… I bleed only in the morning just a drop… What could it be

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If the bleed was when your period should have occurred, it’s possible it was a light period or pre-period spotting. Implantation is also possible, depending on when you last had intercourse.

  • Faith

    hello , I started my period on the 12th and just yesterday the 15th I wasn’t bleeding the whole day I even wiped to make sure& there was no blood So me and my bf decided to have sex during intercourse I started bleeding. My period was normal the first day but the 2nd day and on has been light and doesn’t even fill up my pad and only comes out when I pee? Is this normal and could I be pregnant?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If there was sex last cycle (probably around the end of Feb if your period was on time), then pregnancy is a possibility, just not a very probable one. Chances are you’re just seeing a light period, which is normal on occasion. If that’s the case your next cycle should be normal.

  • Shakelia

    Hello! Im new here but heres my story. My last full period was Feb. 9, 2018. I went off Feb. 10, 2018. My periods are very irregular and i keep track of them but somehow this month my period was due March 10, 2018. Instead on March 12, 2018. I get very light bleeding, it look pinkish/red. The flow was not normal even doe sometimes i do have 1 day period every 1 month out of a whole year. I took a PT on March 11, 2018 and got a NEGATIVE. I also tested on March 15, 2018 and got a NEGATIVE. Im not sure if im pregnant or what caused my period to be like this. I need help!!!!!!!!!!

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If your cycles are irregular, pregnancy is actually less likely overall. With two negative tests and bleeding, my vote would be not pregnant. If you’re TTC, it may be worth it to see your care provider anyway to seek out the underlying cause of your hormonal imbalance though.

        • Life with Gremlins admin

          Ah, well, at least you know why your cycle is irregular. Unfortunately, if you don’t trust the urine tests, a blood test would be the next step. Have you lost any weight recently? The low body fat common in those with hyperthyroidism is a common cause for short periods, if yours are getting even lighter/shorter, weight loss could be your cause.

  • Sissybug25

    I was supposed to have my period 2/10/18 didn’t have it at all had pregnancy symptoms from 3/11-3/14 (puking, frequent bathroom breaks, tiredness, mood swings, tender BBs) I started bleeding today (3/15/18) for a few hours like a normal period and now I’m just spotting. Is this normal for a 5 day late period to do this? I’ve never been more then 2 days late. What should I watch for if it’s IB or should I just stop worrying and count it as a period?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Hormonal imbalance can also delay a period and cause pregnancy-like symptoms. Being just 5 days late when +/-3 days is considered normal, chances are your next cycle will be normal. Pregnancy is also possible, just less likely. If you are pregnant, a test would be accurate within 48 hours of the bleed stopping. Hope that helps. 🙂