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How Heavy Is Implantation Bleeding, Normal Discharge vs. Abnormal

Implantation bleeding is defined as a vaginal discharge, characterized by pinkish or light brown-colored blood. Many clinicians regard implantation bleeding as being one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, as it typically takes place anywhere between 6 to 12 days after fertilization. So what can we qualify as “normal”, when implantation bleeding begins? It is commonly understood, that some degree of bloody discharge is to be expected, but when should you start worrying?

The Basics of Implantation Bleeding

One of the best ways to identify, when something is abnormal, is to clearly define the parameters of the “normal” process. One thing to remember is that implantation bleeding is a relatively common occurrence – roughly 30-33% of all women, who conceive, experience this condition. It takes place when the fertilized egg (we can also call it “blastocyst”) makes its way down the Fallopian tube and attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. As the embryo begins adjusting itself to its new “home”, several layers of tissue collectively referred to as the “trophoblast” begin to form around the so-called conceptus. This can rupture localized blood vessels, which in turn can cause light bleeding. This discharge typically appears around the same time of a woman’s normal menstrual period. Implantation bleeding is usually lighter, and it normally lasts for a short period of time. Bloody discharge during egg attachment will stop on its own, and it typically does not require any special treatment.

Implantation bleeding is defined as a vaginal discharge, characterized by pinkish or light brown-colored blood. Many clinicians regard implantation bleeding as being one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, as it typically takes place anywhere between 6 to 12 days after fertilization. So what can we qualify as “normal”, when implantation bleeding begins? It is commonly understood, that some degree of bloody discharge is to be expected, but when should you start worrying?

The Basics of Implantation Bleeding

One of the best ways to identify, when something is abnormal, is to clearly define the parameters of the “normal” process. One thing to remember is that implantation bleeding is a relatively common occurrence – roughly 30-33% of all women, who conceive, experience this condition. It takes place when the fertilized egg (we can also call it “blastocyst”) makes its way down the Fallopian tube and attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. As the embryo begins adjusting itself to its new “home”, several layers of tissue collectively referred to as the “trophoblast” begin to form around the so-called conceptus. This can rupture localized blood vessels, which in turn can cause light bleeding. This discharge typically appears around the same time of a woman’s normal menstrual period. Implantation bleeding is usually lighter, and it normally lasts for a short period of time. Bloody discharge during egg attachment will stop on its own, and it typically does not require any special treatment.

To Bleed, or Not to Bleed, That Is the Question

One of the unfortunate misconceptions about implantation bleeding is that it is unusual and dangerous for mother-to-be and her child. The truth of the matter is that there’s not a lot of conclusive evidence as to why some women experience this type of bloody discharge, while others don’t. For women who belong to the first group, it is nothing to be alarmed about, and conversely, not experiencing this type bleeding should not be a cause for concern either.

Physical Characteristics of Implantation Bleeding

The blood will appear to have a pinkish hue, although it is also normal to see brownish blood as well. This may vary a little in cases of ectopic pregnancy (a.k.a. tubal pregnancy), where the fertilized egg attaches to a location other than the uterine wall. In these instances the blood will more than likely be brown, as it takes more time for the embryo to make its way out of the Fallopian tubes. Since blood turns brown as it gets older, it will have this appearance upon discharge. On average, implantation bleeding will have a slightly different color than regular menstrual bleeding; it is typically more of a pink or brown. Normal menstrual fluid is reddish and dark-brown. As for other aspects of its physical appearance, typical implantation bleeding discharge looks like a mixture of blood and cervical mucus.

Symptoms That Accompany Implantation Bleeding

One of the most common symptoms of implantation bleeding is mild abdominal cramping. If cramps continue to increase in intensity, this could indicate a normal menstrual cycle, or problems, connected with the pregnancy (e.g., ectopic or tubular pregnancy). Severe cramping can sometimes be symptomatic of other conditions that are wholly unrelated to pregnancy, such as bladder infections or appendicitis. Other symptoms of implantation bleeding include nausea, bloating, tender or swollen breasts, and a slight increase in the basal body temperature.

Timing and duration are also factors to pay attention to, when it comes to discerning implantation bleeding. The average length of a regular menstrual period is 28 days (typically from 22 to 36 days). Menses occur roughly 14 days after the ovulation period. Since conception takes place during ovulation, this would put the date of implantation approximately within 10-14 days of conception. Bloody discharge would occur roughly around the same time that a regular menstrual period would begin. The main thing to take note of is the nature of the bleeding. If it is significantly lighter than what is normally experienced during menstruation, you are more than likely pregnant. It is also important to remember that the duration of this type of discharge is significantly shorter. Implantation bleeding can last anywhere from only a few hours to a few days.

Symptoms and Potential Implications of Heavy Implantation Bleeding

Each woman’s body is different, and cases of relatively heavy implantation bleeding are not at all uncommon. This is important to remember so that you won’t become alarmed at symptoms that may actually be well within the statistically normal range. There are, however, signs that you will need to pay attention to when it comes to heavy bleeding, so that you can be aware of the potential implications of those symptoms. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you will need to contact your health care provider as soon as possible:

  • Abnormal heavy bleeding during menstrual periods.
  • Post-menopausal bleeding.
  • Unusually heavy bleeding after pregnancy has already been confirmed.
  • Abnormally heavy bleeding with clots (it can be the sign of a miscarriage).
  • Intense pain, dizziness, fatigue or lightheadedness along with vaginal bleeding.
  • Severe pelvic pain accompanying the bleeding.

Treatments for Heavy Implantation Bleeding

Since light implantation bleeding is a condition that clears up on its own, no particular treatments or medications have been developed to slow or prevent it. If you are experiencing abnormally heavy discharge that falls within the parameters of the symptoms listed above, you will need to seek the care of a medical professional right away. In addition, if you experience any kind of bleeding after the first trimester, this is also a cause for concern. When it comes to these types of symptoms, it is always better to err on the side of caution instead of waiting to see if they subside. Such signs usually indicate a more serious health risk.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, implantation bleeding is a perfectly normal condition, and nothing to be concerned about. Don’t worry, your body will let you know when something is not quite right. There is such a term, known as “malaise”, which denotes a general and very noticeable feeling that something is “out of sorts”. Pay attention to these signals from your body, as they could be early warning signs of something more significant. That being said, it is important not to cross over into hypochondria, where every little symptom sounds an alarm in your mind. Try your best not to blow anything out of proportion or read more into your symptoms than what is actually there. Maintaining a positive attitude in all situations will not only provide you some relief from stress, but it can also prove to be physiologically beneficial as well.

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