What Is Implantation Bleeding or Spotting?

When bleeding or spotting is normal and when to be concerned

Spotting during Pregnancy
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Implantation bleeding, or implantation spotting, is a small amount of vaginal bleeding that can occur about 10 days after conception, when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall. Some women notice a drop or smear of blood on their panties or on the toilet paper they've just used, while others may not experience implantation bleeding at all.

Just like the other symptoms of early pregnancy, you may experience implantation bleeding during one pregnancy but not during another pregnancy.

There's not a lot of research about the exact reasons why some women experience this bleeding and others do not, but implantation bleeding is no cause for concern and does not affect the viability of the pregnancy. Similarly, not having implantation bleeding should not be considered a cause for worry.

When Is Implantation Bleeding Supposed To Occur?

Implantation bleeding that occurs about a week to ten days after ovulation is a good indicator of early pregnancy. Bleeding or spotting that occurs at any other time does not indicate that you are pregnant.

If you're pregnant and you experience vaginal bleeding that is not implantation bleeding, contact your health care provider for instructions.

How Do I Distinguish Between Implantation Bleeding and Early Miscarriage?

Distinguishing implantation bleeding from early miscarriage bleeding can be confusing. But in general, bleeding associated with an impending miscarriage or chemical pregnancy may begin as spotting but then turn into a heavier flow with visible clots and a dark red color (similar to a menstrual period).

In contrast, implantation bleeding may appear as a brown or lighter-colored discharge without clots, with a lighter flow that lasts only a few hours to a few days.

Neither rule is universally true, however, and the best way to determine the cause of early pregnancy bleeding is to visit your doctor for hCG blood tests or an early pregnancy ultrasound.

More About Early Pregnancy and Miscarriage

Spotting During Pregnancy. Even though you probably know that spotting can occur in viable pregnancies, and that it is not necessarily an indication that anything is wrong, it's normal to worry that you might be having a miscarriage. But light vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy can occur for a variety of reasons.

Does Early Pregnancy Bleeding Mean I'm Having a Miscarriage? While vaginal bleeding during early pregnancy can be scary and worrisome, it does not always mean miscarriage, even if it is red and has clots. Anywhere between 10 percent and 30 percent of pregnant women who carry to term remember having some amount of bleeding or spotting at some point in their pregnancy.

Very Early Miscarriage. Also called a "chemical pregnancy," a very early miscarriage occurs when a fertilized egg fails to implant in the lining of the uterus, or miscarries shortly after implantation. A woman may not even know she was pregnant, as the bleeding associated with the miscarriage can occur very close to her regular period. 

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