What Is Implantation Bleeding?

If you see light bleeding -- small pink or brown spots -- in your underwear and you think you might be pregnant, it could be implantation bleeding. That happens 6 to 12 days after conception, and you may mistake it for your regular period.

It’s actually an early sign of pregnancy. It’s not dangerous, and you don’t need treatment.

Heavy bleeding (more than a typical period) is cause for concern, though. Contact your doctor if you have this alone or combined with fever, chills, or cramps that get worse.

Cause

After a sperm fertilizes your egg, they become an embryo. It then travels to the uterus, where it implants itself into the lining.

Sometimes, as the embryo attaches, it causes a little bleeding. This doesn't cause any problems for the baby that will develop.

Symptoms

The blood may be lighter in color and flow than what you see during your period. Mild cramping is common.

This bleeding tends to happen sooner than you'd notice morning sickness.

Treatment

It will stop on its own. If you're worried that you've bled a lot, call your doctor. He may want to know how much you saw in your underwear and what color it was.

Other Causes of Bleeding

Pregnant women can bleed for reasons other than implantation. If it’s heavy plus with or without pain or cramping at any time, call your doctor.

If you’re pregnant and you see blood, it may be caused by:

Sex. Sometimes this happens early on, although it can happen at any time during pregnancy. Hormone changes in your body may be to blame. It should stop on its own.

Ectopic pregnancy. This is when an embryo implants outside of the uterus. You may have bleeding with pain and cramps. It’s dangerous, and you need to see a doctor right away.

Miscarriage. About 15% of known pregnancies end during the first few months. Most women bleed and cramp afterward. Call your doctor right away if you know you're pregnant and you have these symptoms.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on September 08, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

March of Dimes: “Pregnancy Complications.”

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: “What Are Some Common Signs of Pregnancy?”

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Abnormal Uterine Bleeding,” “Early Pregnancy Loss.”

© 2016 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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