Implantation Bleeding or Period: How Can You Tell the Difference? 2040


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.


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2,040 thoughts on “Implantation Bleeding or Period: How Can You Tell the Difference?

  • warda

    i had sex with my bf on 17 feb.. he didn’t penetrate but ejuclated near my vajina… my last period was on 29 january now …. now i’m bleeding don’t know its period or spotting
    is there any chances that i’m pregnant

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      The chances of pregnancy with ejaculation near your vagina (but not inside) is already very low, but it sounds like the incident also happened around cycle day 19. Assuming you run a 28-day or so cycle, it’s very unlikely you were fertile (which would mean there was no chance of pregnancy). There’s a good possibility the spotting will pick up and you’ll see a true period.

  • Sha

    Hi I recently went to the doc for cramping and bad pains in my back and sides … I’m near 3 weeks pregnant but they seem to hit me hard … I was just getting off work like an hour ago and began to walk up my steps to my apartment and realized I was struggling.. I can’t inside to pee and noticed I was bleeding with small clotting can you help but … clot were like the size of a dime .. is this normal or should I go back to the doc

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      I’m not sure the translation here was correct. 3 weeks pregnant would be prior to ovulation (pregnancy is counted from the first day of your last period). either way, if you’re still getting severe back and side pain, yes, I would return to your care provider.

  • Stacie

    Okay so I started my period on the 7th or 8th of February and it ended around the 11th or 12th and I had unprotected sex on the 15th and i started spotting/bleeding on the 21st is it possible it be implantation bleeding??

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      6 days would be on the early side for implantation, and intercourse on day 8 of your cycle would pose a pretty low chance of pregnancy provided you run a typical 28-day cycle. It being mid-cycle spotting seems more likely.