Implantation Bleeding or Period: How Can You Tell the Difference? 2259

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!

2,259 thoughts on “Implantation Bleeding or Period: How Can You Tell the Difference?

  • Anonymous

    Well … I’m spossed to start my period yesterday …. and this morning I woke up and I was bleeding brownish and pinkish blood … I do have unprotected sex all the time .. idk it’s just weird how my period ain’t normal this time and I’ve never had an abnormal period

  • Azmaira

    hi I think I ovulated on the 29 November,and on the 9th of December I started having brown slippery discharge,and on the 10th it was somewhat dark red with brown and still slippery… I also have been having light cramps accompanied with headaches ….. And I also missed my period on November

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If you have missed an entire cycle pregnancy is one real possibility and a test might be warranted, another possibility though is that you had an annovulatory cycle, and this spotting is that cycle closing out.

  • Jho

    I have UTI before and doctor prescribed antibiotics and i got well and then after some weeks there is a tingling feeling that still hurts but not much, i have been like this for the past 5 months and then when i got my period on day one its just spotting brown color and then day 2 the blood already flow and it just lasts for 3 days. After a week there is a spotting brown color and when i pee there is also a dots of brown color. Can you please answer for me thank you.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Is the bleed from you vagina or in your urine? If you’re still feeling symptoms of a UTI it’s possible your antibiotic regime wasn’t sufficient to kill the infection. If so you should return to your care provider.

  • Alexis Roseboro

    Hey , period ended around the 28th of nov and now it’s December 9th and i see blood. I did have unprotected sex a few days before but took a plan b. Is that normal ? What should i do?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If you’ve recently taken plan B, spotting and/or late/early periods are expected. It’s hormone-based and causes some temporary hormonal imbalance.

  • Taja

    Hi I have irregular periods due that I’ve been of depo these last couple months I have been taking ovulation test here and there and believe I ovulated nov 28 , dec 4 i had some cramping for about 5 minutes I went to use the bathroom and noticed some pinkish discharge very little and that was it now today dec 6 I had some more cramping for about 5 minutes and went to the bathroom and noticed a couple drops of pink spotting / discharge, could this be implantation bleeding ? And if it is implantation bleeding how did I have a little on the 4th none on the 5th and now a little on the 6th , I also took a pregnancy test (first response early result ) last night and a faint line showed up within three minutes but today I took another and don’t see anything please help !!!

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      It would be possible to have some spotting on more than one day with implantation if you had a hormone dip, but it could also just be some regular old spotting. As far as the test, it’s possible you got a false positive or negative, read the test wrong, or had a chemical pregnancy. Give it a few days (at least 2), then test again, if you’re pregnant you should see a more recognizable line.

  • SheaLynn

    Hey! I’m on cycle day 22 today with my period supposed to start on the 13th! I had Just a little bit of a brown Discharge on cycle day 21 when I went To the bath room a noticed it again today on day 22 could that be Implantation. I like a week before my expected period.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      That really depends on when you ovulated. Implantation takes a minimum of 6 days, with day 8-10 being the average, if that sounds right for you timing wise, it may be implantation, yes. 🙂

  • Chelsea Williams

    Hi, so I had sex Nov 21 and my ovulation date was Nov 22. My period is scheduled to come on Dec 7th however I have had very dark brown blood come out (a little more than spotting) starting Dec 4th and it’s still coming out today (every few hours). Would this be break through bleeding? And when is the best time to take a pregnancy test?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Possibly, but it’s just as likely it’s an early period. If ovulation was on Nov 22, you would want to test no earlier than, today actually, Dec. 6th.

  • Hope

    I had an early miscarriage three months ago. Since then, we have been TTC. My last period started November 7. I ovulated on the 17th day of my 29-30 day cycle. I’ve had sore heavy breast for about 4 days. This morning I had pink/brown when I wiped after peeing. Is this IB or the start of my period?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      It sounds like your bleeding was about 10 days after ovulation, which is good timing as far as IB. Is the CD 17 a common ovulation day for you? On a 29=30 cycle wou’d expect close to day 14-15. Keep in mind that if you ovulated later than usual this cycle, you would see a slightly late period. I say this because 10 days also puts you at CD 27, so if ovulation of day 17 is normal for you, it’s possible this is the start of a period as well. If CD 17 is late for you, that’s less likely.

  • Alicia

    I was supposed to start my cycle last week this is the 2nd week I have been experiencing blood only on toilet paper but once or twice at work I do a lot of bending and lifting. Sometimes when I use the restroom there are small traces of blood in the toilet. What could be going in? I don’t have insurance so a doctor is not an option unless necessary

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If you had intercourse about 3 weeks ago, a pregnancy test might be in order, if not, it could just be a late cycle. The occasional off period is considered normal, it’s when there’s a pattern of irregularity a health care provider visit may be warranted.

  • Bella Jean

    My boyfriend and I have been having sex regularly almost daily for a little over a month. On November 12th I started my period and it only lasted until the 16th. We then had sex on the 17th. That was the last time we have had sex and this morning when I woke up I went to the bathroom to pee and when I wiped there was blood. It was a very light pink color. I am just curious if it is implantation or could it be something else? I have been very irritable the last week and tired and I have felt pretty nauseous.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      The timing is right as far as between the intercourse and the bleed, but the timing within your cycle isn’t. You’re very unlikely to become pregnant just after a period (sex on cycle day 5, ovulation was more like cycle day 14ish depending on cycle length). In fact, as far as where you are in your cycle, it’s more likely that spotting was from ovulation than pregnancy.

  • Tasmyn

    Hi so I had intercourse the 15 th day of my cycle on the 28th I got blood which lasted five days after just to be sure I took a test a week later which was negative . Is that my period and am I not pregnant or should I worry that it’s implantation? I should add I’m on birth control

  • 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.