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Implantation Signs: Can You Be Sure About Conception?

There is a sufficient reason why implantation signs have long been considered the earliest symptoms of pregnancy. Contrary to popular belief, the process of conception is not completed at the moment of egg fertilization by the sperm. The zygote has to make its way down to the uterus and attach itself to the endometrial lining, at which point a pregnancy starts.

Read also: Cervical Mucus After Implantation: How to Detect Egg Embedment?

Implantation Bleeding and Cramping as First Symptoms of Pregnancy

Symptoms After Implantation: Knowing the First Signs of Pregnancy

If for any reason the fertilized egg starts growing outside the uterus, typically in the ovaries or the Fallopian tubes, a miscarriage can happen or some unusual painful symptoms can appear, after which the pregnancy has to be terminated. On the other hand, if the blastocyst, which is the fertilized egg that has turned into a cluster of cells, reaches the uterus, but does not get attached to the inner uterine membrane, it will just get purged out of the body during menstruation, despite being a fertilized egg capable of developing further.

So, implantation is a crucial step and a culminating point in the process of conception. In fact, many early signs of pregnancy appear as a result of implantation. Here is a look at what can be felt as your body changes to prepare itself for the pregnancy period.

There is a sufficient reason why implantation signs have long been considered the earliest symptoms of pregnancy. Contrary to popular belief, the process of conception is not completed at the moment of egg fertilization by the sperm. The zygote has to make its way down to the uterus and attach itself to the endometrial lining, at which point a pregnancy starts.

Read also: Cervical Mucus After Implantation: How to Detect Egg Embedment?

Implantation Bleeding and Cramping as First Symptoms of Pregnancy

Symptoms After Implantation: Knowing the First Signs of Pregnancy

If for any reason the fertilized egg starts growing outside the uterus, typically in the ovaries or the Fallopian tubes, a miscarriage can happen or some unusual painful symptoms can appear, after which the pregnancy has to be terminated. On the other hand, if the blastocyst, which is the fertilized egg that has turned into a cluster of cells, reaches the uterus, but does not get attached to the inner uterine membrane, it will just get purged out of the body during menstruation, despite being a fertilized egg capable of developing further.

So, implantation is a crucial step and a culminating point in the process of conception. In fact, many early signs of pregnancy appear as a result of implantation. Here is a look at what can be felt as your body changes to prepare itself for the pregnancy period.

Are There Any Implantation Signs That Can Be Felt During Early Pregnancy?

Although the uterine tube, which is the passageway taken by a fertilized egg to reach the uterus, is a mere four inches in length, it can take the zygote as many as 6 to 8 days to cover this distance. Generally, as soon as the egg enters the womb, proteolytic ferments are released from its outer lining. They help to melt the mucous membrane of the endometrial lining in order to create the space for attachment.

When the blastocyst attaches itself to the uterus, some blood cells are naturally displaced, so some women can experience the sudden onset of spotting during this time. However, the flow of blood is minimal, which is why this symptom is often missed. Even when it is significant, because it occurs at the same time as regular menses, implantation bleeding is often confused with scanty menstruation.

What is actually happening is that you are missing your period, and only the part of the endometrial lining, which has come loose due to implantation, has seeped out of the cervix. This is seen as the slight bloody discharge. This lysis of the uterine lining is also felt as abdominal discomfort in some women.

Although cramping is one of the most common implantation signs (experienced even more often than bleeding/spotting), it is not felt by all women. In fact, in terms of percentage, only about 30% of future moms usually feel abdominal implantation pain along with vaginal bleeding, while 30-35% of expectant mothers notice just one of these two implantation symptoms.

Are the Aches and Bleeding Deemed Normal by Gynecologists?

Yes, both these signs are common to implantation. However, it is their intensity that can indicate if you have to worry. If you notice anything that does not feel right, e.g., if the bleeding is too intense or the discharge has some lumpy characteristics, you need to see your doctor. Similarly, if the pain is unbearable or accompanied by fever and fainting, if it spells and radiates out to the areas of the body above and below the abdomen, it should be investigated by a GP. However, before you press the panic button, here is a look at the other main implantation signs:

Bleeding/spotting: The majority of women miss this sign because the bleeding is sometimes too hard even to be noticed. Usually it looks like just a drop or two of pinkish or brownish blood mixed with a white discharge that is typical to the thickening of the vaginal walls. This spotting can usually be handled by using a panty liner and most ladies don’t need to use tampons or sanitary pads.

Basal temperature: This is another sign that is easily missed because the dip in temperature is quite small, usually about half a degree, and it happens only on the day of implantation, as estrogen levels surge at this time. Moreover, not every woman tracks her BBT. Anyway, if you don’t see the dip on your chart, this does not mean that you are not pregnant. You may have missed this slight change because the basal temperature increases again right after successful implantation and stays up.

Cramping: Unlike period pains, implantation cramping is felt only in the lower abdomen, usually right below the belly button. The pain is pricking and pulling. Also, it can shift from one side of the abdomen to the other, but will be localized to the lower part of the tummy. You will notice it, but it is not severe enough to hamper your day-to-day activities. In fact, most pregnant women say it feels like gas pains.

When Do the First Implantation Symptoms Appear?

Implantation takes place anytime between the 6th and the 12th days of fertilization. According to gynecologists, you are about 3 weeks pregnant when endometrial attachment occurs; this is measured from the first day of the menstrual cycle, in which the woman has conceived. The initial stage of implantation lasts for about 2 weeks. During these 14 days you may feel the cramping on and off. As far as the bleeding goes, this only lasts for a day or two.

The process of implantation is said to be completed around the 18th week of pregnancy as at this point the placenta develops and starts functioning fully. As far as miscarriages go, they are most common on the 5th-6th week of pregnancy. Once the placenta is developed, the fetus begins to get all its nutrition from the mother and the excreta or toxins, released during the cellular development, are also purged through this pathway. This is what causes nausea, vomiting and a sense of fatigue in pregnant women. Of course, hormonal changes are also to be blamed for these and many other implantation signs. The attachment of the embryo can never occur before the 3rd day of ovulation. See the chances of implantation beyond the 3rd day:

  • 3-5 days: 0.7%;
  • 6th day: 1.4%;
  • 7th day: 5.6%;
  • 8th day: 18.06%;
  • 9th day: 36.9%;
  • 10th day: 27.8%;
  • 11th day: 7%;
  • 12th day: 2.8%.

Note that the highest possibility of implantation is on the 8th, 9th and the 10th day after ovulation. Then it gradually tapers off. Of course, this is not to say that implantation has never occurred, for example, on the 13th day. When discussing pregnancy and implantation signs, it is imperative to understand, that every woman’s organism is different and every pregnancy is also peculiar. In fact, even if you do have experience with conception and childbirth, this does not mean that the symptoms during your second pregnancy will be the same as during the first one.

Implantation Signs and a HPT: What to Believe?

Home pregnancy tests hinge on the discernible amount of the HCG, being present in the urine. However, the concentration of this hormone increases gradually. For instance, at the time of implantation there is a mere 2nmol/l of HCG which is not enough to be detected. From then on, it increases by 100% every day. So, on the 5th day after embryo attachment, it will be at 32nmol/l. Exactly at that time the UPT is able to give the first positive results. You should try home pregnancy kits starting from the 14th day after possible ovulation. The accuracy of results at this stage will be 99.9%.

Important Facts About Implantation

• About 60% of all embryos manage to get embedded in the endometrial lining.

• Those that do not, die and are thrown out of the body with the menstrual blood.

• The success of the implantation process depends on the thickness and sensitivity of the uterine membrane.

• Any anomalies of the endometrial lining can cause infertility.

• Hyperplasia, uterine myomas, endometrial polyps and endometriosis can all impede implantation.

• In order to be successful, the implantation has to occur within the window of the 3rd to the 13th day past ovulation.

• The ovum or sperms of poor quality can cause a miscarriage at this stage.

What Are the Signs of Implantation Bleeding?

If you would like to distinguish period bleeding from implantation signs, you will need to observe your menstrual discharge for a few months. Only in such case you are will be aware of the thickness, color and volume of your period cervical mucus. Also, clearly mark when you start menstruating each month; this way you won’t confuse bleeding linked to implantation, periods and other problems with each other.

Spotting, when it is one of the implantation signs, will be very light; the color will be pink or light brown as opposed to the thick, bright red period discharge. In terms of duration, it will last for a few hours or it may only be experienced once. Some women will only see a bit of blood on the tissue when they wipe themselves after passing urine.

If the spotting is dark brown or red and it contains cervical mucus, you have either got your period or this is a sign of cervical erosion or tumor, malignant or not. One thing should be very clear, if you are soaking a tampon or sanitary napkin every 3-4 hours for 3-7 days, you are certainly not pregnant. Another peculiarity of implantation bleeding is that it is not as thick as the period blood and there is never any necrosed debris in it, meaning you won’t see any lumps, clots or tissues.

Is Heavy Bleeding Impossible During Implantation?

A very small percentage of women will experience the same volume of bloody discharge as they do during their periods. However, heavy bleeding is mostly abnormal and it requires examinations.

If you experience the following symptoms before, after implantation or during it, these are signs of trouble brewing:

  • Abnormal heavy bleeding during periods.
  • Post menopause bleeding.
  • Heavy bleeding after the pregnancy has been confirmed.
  • Bloody discharge with clots.
  • Severe pelvic pain.

What Are the Signs of Implantation Cramping?

After bleeding, cramping is the most common implantation sign. However, the discomfort will be felt for a few days and it will gradually ebb away. If there is a marked increase in the intensity of the pain, chances are that you are expecting your periods or the discomfort can be attributed to some other reason besides implantation.

In terms of duration too, cramps linked to pregnancy will be shorter lived than PMS aches. They can last for about a week, but the discomfort is not a permanent fixture through this period, meaning the pain will start suddenly and stop on its own too. While some exercises do indeed help with menstruation related discomfort in the abdomen, if the cramping can be owed to implantation, spending long hours on your feet will just exacerbate the discomfort.

Lying down, changing sides when sleeping and using a hot water bottle on the sore area can actually help. Period related abdominal discomfort will typically have a recurring nature. If you have never suffered from such sensations before menstruating or felt them rarely, plus the other implantation signs are in place, chances are that you have indeed conceived

Other possible symptoms of implantation and their characteristics:

Basal Body temperature: Except for the dip during the actual implantation, the basal temperature is elevated from the start of ovulation till you get your period. However, if you are pregnant the rise in temperature will stay put beyond the two week window.

Tenderness of breasts and nipples: This is one of the first implantation signs, usually felt even before the characteristic cramping and spotting. Attributed to the surging levels of progesterone in your body, you will feel as if your breasts have swollen. This can also be blamed on water retention in the body during pregnancy. Discomfort in breasts can be experienced as early as within a week or two after conception.

Fatigue: This is another early implantation signs. As your body prepares for the impending pregnancy, you will tend to feel tired all the time and will need more naps during the day. Fortunately, after this feeling of total exhaustion the significant energy boost in the second trimester will follow.

Hot flashes: Although not experienced by all women, many report going through episodes of hot flashes that can last up to 45 minutes each on the very day of implantation. Hot flashes are a common symptom of hormonal changes, but it is not in the top list of implantation signs. So, unless it is experienced along with other symptoms, mentioned above, you need to see your doctor.

Some of the other common signs of implantation can include headaches and backaches, feeling lightheaded or even fainting, nausea and vomiting, developing food cravings or aversions and frequent urination. While some of these signs will persist throughout the first trimester and even the next two, many will dissipate as your body gets used to the growing fetus and the rise of certain hormones.

If you have had unprotected sex during or before ovulation and start feeling some of these symptoms within 4 to 9 days after it, there are very good chances of successful conception. Remember that the egg-fertilization rarely causes any significant symptoms except for some degree of moodiness. Implantation signs are the physical experiences that often get interpreted as the early symptoms of pregnancy.

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