Skip to main content

What are the signs of implantation?

Wondering if you may be pregnant? Find out what implantation symptoms could occur if your are

Implantation is when an embryo implants into the uterine lining to start growing into a fetus. For some, this moment could cause implantation symptoms like some bleeding or cramping, similar to a very light period. For others, nothing may happen. Following implantation, pregnancy symptom will begin and increase as the days progress. Read on to find out exactly what to expect in signs of implantation.

Woman sitting on couch and looking at a pregnancy test
G-Stock Studio / Shutterstock

What is implantation?

Implantation usually happens five to nine days after fertilization (conception), when the embryo has already started to grow. It needs to bury itself into the thick lining of the uterus to keep growing. Without implantation, a pregnancy cannot progress. Medically, the pregnancy only begins once implantation takes place.

After implantation, levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG double every 48 hours. This is the hormone that pregnancy tests detect and that cause many pregnancy symptoms, which can be similar to implantation symptoms. Once implantation happens, the embryo that grows into a fetus will be developing rapidly and the hormones associated with pregnancy can cause symptoms, such as morning sickness. But first, the moment of implantation itself can cause some specific signs of implantation.

Young woman sitting on bed with hands on lower stomach
New Africa / Shutterstock

Signs of implantation

The main signs of implantation are light bleeding and cramping. Implantation symptoms can also include nausea, bloating, sore breasts, fatigue, mood swings, appetite changes, and headaches.

These signs are very similar to PMS symptoms, which would also be coming on at the same time if you weren’t pregnant, so implantation symptoms can also be confusing or misleading. It’s difficult to know whether spotting, cramping, mood swings, or sore breasts are a precursor to a period or mean that an embryo has implanted until a period begins or a pregnancy test turns positive.

However, the descriptions of implantation bleeding and implantation cramping below may help give clues. The biggest clue is that implantation symptoms would happen a few days or up to one week earlier than PMS symptoms would.

Implantation bleeding

When the tiny embryo (technically a blastocyst) implants into the uterus, it causes a tiny rupture to get in. This can generate a small amount of bleeding that comes out through the vagina just like a period. It is very light since it’s not a shedding of lining but a reaction to a small poke. It could appear for just one wipe or up to two days of light bleeding or spotting, but it’s not as much as a regular menstrual cycle. It may look light pink or rust brown. Implantation bleeding does not have any clots.

The biggest clue that the bleeding is a sign of implantation instead of a period is the timing. Implantation bleeding happens about 9 days after ovulation instead of about 14 days after ovulation. If you have some light bleeding earlier than an expected period that lasts a couple of days or less and goes away, that could be implantation bleeding.

Only one third those who experience pregnancy implantation experience implantation bleeding, according to the American Pregnancy Association.

Implantation cramping

The implantation of the embryo into the uterus can also cause some light cramping, lighter than period cramping. A third of those who experience implantation also experience this. The cramps are similar to period cramping and felt in the same place, but they are generally more mild and last for a few hours to a few days. You may even just feel a twinge once. If you have cramping that isn’t followed by your period, it could be implantation cramping.

Other signs of implantation

Implantation symptoms are similar to PMS symptoms, period symptoms, and pregnancy symptoms: sore breasts, bloating, fatigue, nausea, mood swings, and so on. During the two-week wait, it’s very difficult to tell the reason why you would be experiencing one of these symptoms; until you have waited long enough to take an accurate pregnancy test.

Signs of implantation like implantation bleeding could help be clues by giving a specific timeline — if spotting occurs nine days after ovulation instead of two weeks after ovulation; however, those other symptoms could be signs of implantation instead of signs of PMS.

If you’ve been tracking your basal body temperature (BBT), you might be able to identify “the implantation dip” — a one-day dip in BBT of a few tenths of a degree — but this is unlikely. The implantation dip has not been studied and there is no official peer-reviewed evidence to back it up. However, fertility tracking app Fertility Friend analyzed over 1.5 million BBT charts and found that charts that had a one-day drop in BBT between 5 and 12 days past ovulation were 80% more likely to be pregnant than not.

Calendar with pregnancy test

Final thoughts on signs of implantation

You might have only one sign of implantation, two, or more, or none. While you’re waiting for a pregnancy to be detectable by a pregnancy test, it’s too easy to obsess over every little sign, but remember that stress won’t help (and will only hurt) your wait. Whether an embryo implants into the uterine lining can’t be changed and can’t be medically detected from home, so try to distract yourself by binging a new show or taking a walk with a friend. You will know whether these were signs of implantation soon enough!

Editors' Recommendations

Sarah Prager
Sarah is a writer and mom who lives in Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, National…
Experts weigh in on when chamomile tea for babies can be helpful for colic or constipation
Is this home remedy safe for babies?
Baby drinking out of a bottle.

Most parents know the frustration of dealing with a baby who is suffering from colic or constipation. It can be hard feeling so helpless while watching your baby suffer. For generations, seasoned parents have shared their own tried-and-true solutions for constipation or colic with new parents. Chamomile is one of those solutions that has been traditionally used as a "home remedy" for various ailments, including insomnia and digestive issues. The tea is manufactured from the chamomile flower and is known for its mildly sweet flavor that tastes reminiscent of apple.

While chamomile has long been used as an herb that treats a spectrum of issues, is it safe to use chamomile tea for babies' maladies? And if so, how old should they be before trying this? We’ve researched to find expert insights into this subject, and we’ll share with you whether babies should be given tea — along with some essential precautions to consider.

Read more
The pros and cons of wearing a postpartum belly wrap
Can a belly wrap help with your postpartum recovery?
Standing pregnant woman in belly band

Your body goes through an extraordinary transformation while pregnant, not just physically but emotionally too.  Throughout those long months of pregnancy, you can experience mood swings,  cravings, swelling, and weight gain. Although it's easy to see many of the body's physical changes, especially once the bump really starts to grow, there are also changes going on inside the stomach as well. Not only does the skin of the stomach stretch to accommodate your growing belly, but your muscles also stretch, and your organs shift around to make room for the baby.

Once the baby arrives, the body begins healing, but this healing takes time. Many women want to get their pre-baby body back as soon as possible and will do anything to help the process along. To achieve this, some moms gravitate toward one of these two options: shapewear or wrapping their stomachs after giving birth. And while the benefits of postpartum shapewear can include weight and shape management, a postpartum belly wrap can help speed up the healing process as well.

Read more
How to host an 8-year-old’s birthday party on a budget
Throw your child a birthday party without breaking the bank
Smiling child with birthday cake

Every child looks forward to their birthday and hopes for a spectacular party. Whether they want to invite their entire class or just have a small gathering of a few special friends and family, the goal is to make the birthday child feel important and pampered on their special day. Thanks to social media, we see just how extravagant some people can get when hosting a child's birthday party, but you don't have to have a Kardashian bank account to throw your child a fabulous party. Even if you're on a budget, you can give your kid the most amazing birthday party that's affordable and fun.

If you have an 8-year-old, you understand they are full of energy and imagination. Kids this young love parties that are fun, bright, colorful, and unique. Thinking up 8-year-old birthday party ideas can be tricky. You can easily achieve all of that for a great deal with some creative, budget-friendly ideas. Check out these great ways to save money on food, venues, party favors, and more with these birthday party ideas for your 8-year-old son or daughter.

Read more