You’re probably familiar with the basics of conception: sperm meets egg under the right conditions, producing an embryo that grows into a bouncing baby. But what happens after the egg is fertilized? What is implantation and how do you know when it’s happened? Being familiar with the signs of implantation during pregnancy will help you understand the importance of this event and recognize it when it happens.
Signs of implantation during pregnancy are simply a visual indication that a variety of changes are taking place in your body during this early stage of your pregnancy. After sperm fertilizes the egg in your fallopian tube, the fertilized egg continues its journey through your fallopian tube, implanting in the lining of your uterus (endometrium), which thickened in preparation for this event. This implantation triggers additional changes in your body, including swollen breasts, a missed period and increased fatigue, that show your body is gearing itself toward providing for the unborn baby now growing in your womb.
The most obvious sign of implantation during pregnancy is vaginal spotting or bleeding. Typically occurring 6 to 12 days following conception, this mild bleeding is often one of the first signs you may have that you’re pregnant, according to the American Pregnancy Association (see Reference 1). Although some women mistake implantation bleeding for their period, it usually occurs earlier than your menstrual period, is lighter in color (pink or brown) and strength, and lasts for a shorter length of time.
For some women, mild cramping is another sign that indicates implantation of the egg in the lining of your uterus has occurred. Typically, this cramping is similar to the cramping you may experience with your normal menstrual period. Although the cramping that occurs with implantation during pregnancy frequently accompanies vaginal spotting, it could also occur by itself as well. If you are confused about whether the cramping and bleeding you’re experiencing is caused by implantation or your menstrual period, Pregnancy-Info.Net suggests that you use the amount of bleeding to determine the cause; implantation bleeding is typically milder than menstrual bleeding (see Reference 2).
A sign of implantation during pregnancy occurs when your hormone levels drastically change as a result of the embryo’s implantation. After the fertilized egg implants, your body begins producing human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a pregnancy hormone that is present in your body’s blood and urine. The American Pregnancy Association states that the level of hCG in your blood doubles approximately every 3 days, peaking before your 12th week of pregnancy (see Reference 3). Home pregnancy tests check your urine for the presence of hCG, which allows you to know whether or not you’re actually pregnant.
Just because you don’t experience spotting and cramping within 2 weeks of conception does not necessarily mean that implantation has not occurred. In fact, only 25 percent of pregnant women experience bleeding during the first trimester of pregnancy. If you are sexually active and experiencing other early signs of pregnancy, particularly a missed period, you should invest in a home pregnancy test that will check the hCG levels in your urine; if you get a positive result, you will know for sure that you are in fact pregnant and the embryo has already implanted in the lining of your uterus.