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Must-Know Terms Connected With Implantation and Implantation Bleeding

Implantation bleeding is a slight spotting, that typically occurs a few days before a woman might miss her regular period. This atypical bloody discharge usually lasts anywhere from a few hours to a day or two and is lighter than a period. Every woman who is contemplating the possibility of being pregnant should become familiar with certain terms to fully understand what is happening inside the body and become aware of what to expect during this early sign of pregnancy, when a woman may not even realize she has conceived.

What Does Implantation Mean?

In regards to pregnancy, implantation is the time during early stages of pregnancy, when the fertilized egg implants itself in the lining of the mother’s uterus. This may cause some mild irritation to the blood vessels. This results in a small amount of bleeding which will pass from the uterus, through the cervix, and eventually exit from the vagina. A woman may mistake this bloody discharge for spotting between periods, or as the beginning of a period if she had not planned a pregnancy. If the woman had been trying to conceive, she may feel that all her attempts failed and she is not pregnant, or worry that something is wrong. This is why it is important to understand when and why this happens.

Implantation bleeding is a slight spotting, that typically occurs a few days before a woman might miss her regular period. This atypical bloody discharge usually lasts anywhere from a few hours to a day or two and is lighter than a period. Every woman who is contemplating the possibility of being pregnant should become familiar with certain terms to fully understand what is happening inside the body and become aware of what to expect during this early sign of pregnancy, when a woman may not even realize she has conceived.

What Does Implantation Mean?

In regards to pregnancy, implantation is the time during early stages of pregnancy, when the fertilized egg implants itself in the lining of the mother’s uterus. This may cause some mild irritation to the blood vessels. This results in a small amount of bleeding which will pass from the uterus, through the cervix, and eventually exit from the vagina. A woman may mistake this bloody discharge for spotting between periods, or as the beginning of a period if she had not planned a pregnancy. If the woman had been trying to conceive, she may feel that all her attempts failed and she is not pregnant, or worry that something is wrong. This is why it is important to understand when and why this happens.

The Egg Before and After Fertilization

When a woman ovulates, she releases a mature egg called an ovum, which travels to the fallopian tube where there is a potential place for it to be fertilized. If the ovum becomes fertilized by the male sperm, it means, that conception (the process of becoming pregnant which involves both fertilization and implantation) has occurred.

After conception, the fertilized egg becomes known as a zygote. The zygote is a single nucleus, which contains the genetic material from both parents. Although fertilized, a true pregnancy is not considered to have occurred until the egg has successfully implanted itself in the uterus.

From Zygote to Embryo, Blastocysts and Trophoblasts

After the first cell division of the zygote, the developing baby becomes known as an embryo. The tiny embryo is encased within a thin walled hollow structure, known as a blastocyst, or a cluster of cells. The developing cells on the outside of the blastocyst are known as the trophoblast. They provide nutrition to the embryo. The trophoblast is the part of the blastocyst, which attaches itself to the lining of the uterus and results in implantation bleeding. After successful implantation the trophoblast will become the placenta and continue to nourish the growing embryo. After a period of eight weeks of pregnancy, the embryo is then referred to as a fetus until birth. The foetus (fetus) is the developing, unborn human baby.

Overview of Implantation Process

Now that the terms related to the implantation process have been covered, here is a brief overview:

  • A few days before a regular period might occur, light spotting may happen.
  • Bleeding is lighter than a period and usually slightly darker in color.
  • This happens as a result of the blastocyst attaching itself to the uterus, resulting in actual pregnancy.
  • Light bleeding may be accompanied by mild cramping and is one of the very early signs of pregnancy.

Symptoms and Signs of Implantation and Pregnancy

Along with the slight spotting, that occurs when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining, a woman might experience some mild cramping or just general soreness in the uterine area. Some expectants may even have what they think is an actual period during very early pregnancy, which lasts longer than the typical day or two of spotting. Although a topic of debate, some women just seem to know they are pregnant even in this very early stage. Taking a HPT at this time is not always indicative. It may happen due to the low pregnancy hormone hCG level in the urine. However, some women still claim they are dealing with soreness in their breasts, dizziness, nausea, and other symptoms commonly experienced by newly pregnant women such as fatigue and frequent urination.

What if Heavy Bleeding Occurs? Rare Cases of Ectopic Pregnancy or Early Miscarriage

Generally speaking, when dealing with actual implantation bleeding, the vaginal discharge should not become heavy or have actual pain involved. Mild cramps are normal, but a woman should not experience severe cramping. If this is the case, it may not be implantation bleeding at all, but something more serious. It is best to call 911 if you feel you have an emergency situation, call your health care provider or midwife as soon as possible. They can inform you whether what you are experiencing is normal, and reassure you everything is okay, or get you in to seek medical help if necessary.

In cases when heavy bleeding is mistaken for implantation, it could actually be something such as an Ectopic pregnancy. This type of abnormality is one, in which the fertilized egg doesn’t attach itself to the uterus and develops elsewhere. This could take place in the fallopian tubes, or abdominal cavity. Ectopic pregnancies are also commonly referred to as tubal pregnancies, although they are not limited to the fallopian tubes. This can result in heavy bleeding and severe cramping accompanied by pain and can be very dangerous to the mother. Seek medical assistance immediately if you think that the cause of your mid-cycle spotting could be an Ectopic pregnancy.

In some cases, this type of bleeding could also be mistaken for a very early miscarriage. If the embryo fails to implant properly or fails to thrive after implantation, the woman could suffer a miscarriage, or spontaneous loss of the pregnancy. Unless the conception was expected or planned, this may simply be mistaken for a regular menstrual period or one that is either slightly early or slightly later than usual. In many cases it will never be recognized as a miscarriage because the woman may have had no other symptoms or suspicions of being pregnant.

Conclusion

Implantation bleeding should be considered as a normal occurrence that about one third of all pregnant women experience to some degree. This normal spotting does not indicate that anything is wrong with the pregnancy and in fact, actually confirms that everything is going along as expected. If in doubt, always feel free to contact your health care provider.

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