What is implantation bleeding?

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Implantation bleeding is a phenomenon that is often misleading, since it is often confused with menstruation. It is important to be attentive to the signals of the organism to know what is the next step.

Implantation bleeding is a slight loss of blood that occurs early in pregnancy. This does not have a place in all women. It occurs on the dates when menstruation should begin and, therefore, is a source of confusion for many mothers.

One of the most obvious symptoms of pregnancy is the absence of menstruation. However, in some women, this absence is interrupted by implantation bleeding, which, as its name implies, involves bleeding, but not menstrual bleeding.

Implantation bleeding is also known as ‘false period’. For those who already have signs that they are pregnant, it gives rise to the suspicion that it is an abortion. To avoid confusion, it is best to inform yourself well and, in this way, not lead to misunderstandings.

Implantation bleeding

Implantation bleeding is a normal phenomenon in a healthy pregnancy. It occurs between 6 and 12 days after the ovum has been fertilized, on a date that coincides, to a greater or lesser extent, with the usual menstruation.

Usually, it is accompanied by  less intense cramps than menstruation. Headache, nausea, mood swings, breast tenderness, lower back pain, abdominal swelling, and fatigue are also common.

Typically, implantation bleeding does not follow a fixed pattern. A woman who has already had children may have this type of bleeding in some pregnancies and not in others. Sometimes it corresponds to just a drop of blood and at other times it is similar to a light menstruation.

From ovum to embryo

When fertilization occurs, the union between the egg and the sperm  gives rise to the zygote, which is the same fertilized egg. In as little as 72 hours, the zygote turns into a morula, which is a segmented zygote. Four to five days later, the morula turns into a blastocyst.

The blastocyst, or blastula, has one group of outer cells and another group of inner cells. The former will become the protective membrane and the latter, the embryo. Only when this blastocyst is implanted in the uterus can one speak of an embryo .

Approximately one week after fertilization, the blastocyst  begins to generate extensions. These will be the ones that allow it to adhere to the lining of the uterus. In this early stage, the uterus is highly irrigated and bleeds easily. Therefore, implantation can cause bleeding.

Implantation bleeding: differences from menstrual bleeding

This type of bleeding is a light spotting, which is usually only detected by a slight presence on underwear or toilet paper. Only rarely is it something bulkier. It has a color that can be dark pink or brown, but not red. It does not have clots and lasts between a few hours and three days. In implantation bleeding there is no gradual increase in flow , as occurs in menstruation. It has an intermittent frequency, but remains in the range of a slight spotting that does not increase.

If there is suspicion of pregnancy and bleeding of a more intense color occurs, or that suddenly increases, it is best to consult a doctor. In some cases, this is a symptom of miscarriage, or it may be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy or a molar pregnancy . It could also indicate that there is a health problem.

Confirmation of a pregnancy

In the initial stages, it is very difficult to establish whether there is a pregnancy or not. For the same reason, it is not easy to determine whether what there is implantation bleeding, a threatened abortion or a problem of another nature. Hence the importance of confirming pregnancy as soon as possible.

The most reliable pregnancy tests can be done during the first week of gestation. These are tests that are done in the laboratory and have a high degree of accuracy. In contrast, home tests have a lower degree of reliability when performed shortly after fertilization.

All of these tests measure the level of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which is present in the blood and urine. Home tests can be done during implantation bleeding, but it is best to wait a week for more reliable results.

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