What Is Implantation Bleeding?

Underwear with menstruation

Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman / Getty Images

  • Some people may experience implantation bleeding – slight vaginal bleeding or spotting – as an early sign of pregnancy about 10-14 days after conception.
  • Implantation bleeding is lighter and doesn’t last as long as a menstrual period. 
  • For most people, implantation bleeding stops within a few hours or days.
  • Bleeding that persists or gets worse may be a sign of a health complication, such as miscarriage.
  • Seek medical help right away if you notice any signs of pregnancy loss or ectopic pregnancy, such as heavy bleeding, pain, or severe uterine cramping.

Implantation bleeding is light vaginal spotting or bleeding that happens about 1-2 weeks after conception. It’s a normal early pregnancy sign. Around 25% of pregnant people experience implantation bleeding around the time of their first missed period. 

Learn more about implantation bleeding, including why it happens, common symptoms, and when to see a healthcare provider.

Why Does Implantation Bleeding Happen?

Implantation bleeding occurs when a fertilized egg implants into the uterus. As the embryo burrows into the uterine lining, it can cause a small amount of light bleeding. 

Implantation bleeding typically occurs 1-2 weeks after the egg is fertilized—just before or right around the time you're expecting your next period—so it can be an early sign of pregnancy. It’s usually nothing to worry about and doesn’t require any medical attention.

How To Know if You're Experiencing Implantation Bleeding

The main sign of implantation bleeding is vaginal spotting or bleeding, usually much lighter than a period. You might notice it when you wipe after going to the bathroom. 

You might also notice other early signs of pregnancy around the same time, such as:

  • Tender breasts or nipples
  • Light cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Mood swings
  • Food cravings
  • Food aversions
  • Frequent urination

The Difference Between Implantation Bleeding and Your Period

It’s easy to confuse implantation bleeding with a period, especially if you have a regular menstrual cycle. Although they may show up around the same time (1-2 weeks after ovulation), there are several differences between implantation bleeding and your period. These include:

  • Color: While menstrual blood is usually dark red or dark brown, implantation bleeding is often light pink or rust-colored.
  • Duration: Implantation bleeding only lasts for a few hours or days. Meanwhile, menstrual bleeding can last up to a week.
  • Flow: If you’re experiencing implantation bleeding, you’ll probably only notice light spotting – not enough blood to fill a pad. Unlike some periods, implantation bleeding doesn't usually cause any clotting.

When To See a Healthcare Provider

If you’re experiencing implantation bleeding, you probably won’t need to see a healthcare provider. It should resolve on its own within a day or two, if not earlier. 

Bleeding in early pregnancy is sometimes a sign of a more serious health complication, such as a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Let your OB-GYN know or reach out for emergency medical help if you experience any unusual bleeding, such as:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Bleeding that doesn’t stop within a few days
  • Bleeding accompanied by any kind of cramps or pain
  • Any bleeding late in pregnancy

Symptoms of Miscarriage

Whether due to implantation bleeding, increased blood flow to the cervix, or vaginal irritation, light bleeding during the early stages of pregnancy isn’t unusual. However, sometimes it can be cause for concern. 

Bleeding in early pregnancy can also be a sign of pregnancy loss, or miscarriage. In addition to vaginal bleeding, the signs of early pregnancy loss may include:

  • Passing clumps of tissue from the vagina
  • Uterine cramping
  • Fluid gushing out of the vagina
  • Lower abdominal pain

If you think you’re experiencing a miscarriage, go to the hospital or reach out to your ob-gyn immediately. Seek emergency medical assistance if you're experiencing very severe cramping or heavy bleeding.

Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy

In an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus – typically, but not always, in the fallopian tubes. If left untreated, the growing embryo can cause your tubes to rupture. 

A ruptured ectopic pregnancy is a potentially fatal complication that requires emergency surgery. In the U.S., about 1-2% of pregnancies are ectopic, and ectopic pregnancies cause about 2.7% of all pregnancy-related deaths. 

Unusual vaginal bleeding is often the first sign of ectopic pregnancy. Let your ob-gyn know if you notice unexpected bleeding or other symptoms, such as:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Cramping on one side of the abdomen or pelvis
  • Lower back pain

If you experience any of the following signs of rupture, call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately:

  • Sudden, severe abdominal pain
  • Pain in the shoulder
  • Extreme dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Shock
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fainting
Was this page helpful?
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. What are some common signs of pregnancy?.

  2. American Pregnancy Association. What is implantation bleeding?.

  3. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Bleeding during pregnancy.

  4. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Early pregnancy loss.

  5. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Ectopic pregnancy.

  6. Hendriks E, Rosenberg R, Prine L. Ectopic pregnancy: diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 2020;101(10):599-606. PMID: 32412215

Related Articles