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What Is Implantation in Pregnancy: The Role of the Bloody Discharge

Implantation bleeding is the most common early sign of pregnancy, which you may experience. It looks like a light bleeding or spotting, which may occur, approximately, between the sixth and the twelfth days after ovulation, at the moment when the fertilized egg implants itself in the uterus. If you see a bloody discharge in the middle of your cycle, you should always visit your doctor, to get to know the exact causes of it and then act accordingly to the situation.

The Causes of Implantation Bleeding?

When an egg comes out of the ovary, it travels through the Fallopian Tube to the uterus. If during this journey it finds a viable spermatozoon, it becomes fertilized. The next step after conception is a cell division. Your baby starts developing immediately after the egg has been fertilized, dividing for the first time during the initial twelve hours of life. From this point until the formation of the fetus, the ovum can be called embryo. The number of cells in the embryo is multiplying each twelve hours. This happens while the zygote moves through the Fallopian Tube, still traveling to the uterus. By the third day, conceptus looks like a ball of cells even smaller than a grain of rice. Now the fertilized egg can be called blastocyst. It is a structure comprised of up to three hundred cells about 0.1 or 0.2 millimeters in diameter. The inner layer of the blastocyst will eventually become the fetus, while the external layer will become the placenta that will nourish and protect the baby during all pregnancy.

Implantation bleeding is the most common early sign of pregnancy, which you may experience. It looks like a light bleeding or spotting, which may occur, approximately, between the sixth and the twelfth days after ovulation, at the moment when the fertilized egg implants itself in the uterus. If you see a bloody discharge in the middle of your cycle, you should always visit your doctor, to get to know the exact causes of it and then act accordingly to the situation.

The Causes of Implantation Bleeding?

When an egg comes out of the ovary, it travels through the Fallopian Tube to the uterus. If during this journey it finds a viable spermatozoon, it becomes fertilized. The next step after conception is a cell division. Your baby starts developing immediately after the egg has been fertilized, dividing for the first time during the initial twelve hours of life. From this point until the formation of the fetus, the ovum can be called embryo. The number of cells in the embryo is multiplying each twelve hours. This happens while the zygote moves through the Fallopian Tube, still traveling to the uterus. By the third day, conceptus looks like a ball of cells even smaller than a grain of rice. Now the fertilized egg can be called blastocyst. It is a structure comprised of up to three hundred cells about 0.1 or 0.2 millimeters in diameter. The inner layer of the blastocyst will eventually become the fetus, while the external layer will become the placenta that will nourish and protect the baby during all pregnancy.

At this point, the inner membrane of the uterus is ready with blood full of nutrients to receive the blastocyst. It is that tissue, called endometrium, which comes out in the form of heavy bloody discharge and cervical mucus every month during the period. Of course it happens only if the egg is not fertilized. Once the blastocyst reaches the uterus, it sticks to the endometrium and starts to produce the necessary enzymes to settle there, receive oxygen from the mother’s blood, and digest the nutrients contained in it.

The implantation bleeding or spotting is caused by the action of the blastocyst’s external layer on the uterus’ endometrium. It is, therefore, the natural consequence of an extremely important event during the normal course of a healthy pregnancy. As noted in the introduction, this process usually happens a week after fertilization, between the 6th and the 12th days after ovulation and conception. It is one of the most frequently experienced early signs of pregnancy. By the end of the 14th day, the blastocyst is already firmly established in its new home. From that point onward, the fetus is referred as embryo. The process, described above, is known as implantation. Pregnancy tests are accurate from the third-fifth day after embryo attachment. However, it depends on the type of the test. Blood examination is more sensitive and accurate, while urine tests are much easier to use.

How Common Is Implantation Bleeding?

About one third of all pregnant women experience implantation bleeding or spotting. Usually it is not a cause of alarm. You may experience this type of bleeding only in one of your pregnancies, in all of them, or just in some. Having experienced the mid-cycle discharge with blood before doesn’t mean you will always encounter the same. Generally you will experience implantation bleeding several days before your expected period, a week before ovulation. For that reason, it is easy to confuse it with your regular period.

You may experience implantation bleeding or spotting accompanied by other early signs of pregnancy such as feeling extremely tired, experiencing taste aversion to certain foods, heightened sensitivity to all kind of smells, morning sickness and/or vomiting, increased breast size, urinary incontinence (frequent need to urinate), and other physical changes.

How Does Implantation Bleeding Look and Feel Like?

By examining the color and quantity of your bleeding and spotting you may define the cause of it. Implantation bleeding tends to be dark red or brownish, very light, and lasts only for a few days -usually one or two, and never more than three. Blood from this type of discharge is never fresh, because it takes long for the endometrium drops to reach the outermost part of the cervix. Some women affirm that their implantation bleeding resembles the bloody discharge during the last day of a normal regular period. Others don’t experience it at all, or fail to notice it due to its lightness. Yet, other women mistake implantation bleeding for an early period. If red or brownish discharge continues three and even four days, and the blood becomes more intense in color, it may indicate serious diseases.

Other possible causes of bleeding during the first 3 months of pregnancy are: stress, spontaneous miscarriage, hematoma, cervical infection, cervical bleeding, cervical cancer, placenta previa, ectopic pregnancy, and molar pregnancy (also known as gestational trophoblastic disease), among others. These are all pathological states that require immediate medical attention. Some clear signs of abnormal bleeding are: red and abundant bloody discharge, bleeding that lasts more than five days, the presence of bloody clots in cervical mucus, abdominal pain, and severe cramps.

In any case, whether you are experiencing symptoms of pathological bleeding or not, the most sensible thing to do is to visit your doctor right after noticing the first spots of blood. He or she will help you to find out the exact cause of their emergence. If you suspect that the bleeding may be caused by the implantation of the embryo, ask your doctor for a pregnancy test to confirm or deny this possibility. Remember that a HP-test may give you a false negative result during the first 2-3 weeks after conception and therefore may lead you to take a mistaken course of action.

Conclusion

Implantation bleeding is a natural process, and a sign of a healthy pregnancy. By visiting your doctor and making sure about the cause of the bleeding, you will be able to take care of yourself and your baby much better. If the cause of bloody discharge is pathological and indicates some abnormalities, you will also benefit from your ob-gyn visit and early treatment. Therefore, don’t delay your call to the doctor.

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