Getting pregnant: implantation bleeding

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Implantation and implantation bleeding are concepts that temporarily play an important role in your life when you want to become pregnant. However, not much is known about implantation bleeding. Internet forums and books all tell you something different: bright red blood loss is harmless, brown blood loss is not, a little blood loss is very normal and blood loss always means a miscarriage. What can science tell us about implantation bleeding?

The beginning of pregnancy

When you are trying to become pregnant, the concepts of ovulation, fertilization and implantation are concepts that temporarily control your life. Many women use special calendars to calculate their most fertile times based on their menstrual cycle to increase the chance of pregnancy. But how exactly do ovulation, fertilization and implantation relate to each other?

Normal menstrual cycle

The normal menstrual cycle plays an important role when you want to become pregnant. The average menstrual cycle generally consists of 28 days. The menstrual cycle starts on the first day of menstruation and ends the day before your next period. Ovulation, also called ovulation, takes place approximately fourteen days before your next period, so approximately halfway through your menstrual cycle. The mature egg is released during ovulation. Fertilization may then take place around and near your ovulation. The most fertile days are from a few days before ovulation to the day after ovulation. After this, the fertilized egg will implant in the uterus after about a week. However, it is important to mention that in only a small percentage of women the menstrual cycle follows such a pattern. There are very large differences in the duration of the different phases, making it very difficult to calculate on paper what your fertile days are.


Implantation is the moment when the fertilized egg enters the uterus via the fallopian tubes and becomes “fixed” in the uterine wall. The egg “bites” into the uterine wall, as it were. From there, the fertilized egg can further develop into a full-fledged baby.

Implantation bleeding

Some women experience bleeding at the time of implantation. Very little is known about implantation bleeding , and there are various stories about it. A tour of various internet forums and websites only creates confusion. One states that blood loss in the beginning of pregnancy means a high risk of miscarriage, while the other states that blood loss during pregnancy is very normal. Yet another states that blood loss is quite normal, as long as it is not too much blood loss. There are also all kinds of stories about the color and texture of the blood loss: brown blood loss is old blood and would mean that the uterus is cleaning itself, bright red blood loss would mean that you are having a miscarriage and a light pink smear of blood on the toilet paper would mean that a small wound was created in the uterus when the fertilized egg implanted itself. Clear, right?! Unfortunately not, because on almost every website you will find a different story and a different explanation for the blood loss. Books also regularly contradict each other. How is this possible? You would think that people would be fairly unanimous about blood loss during pregnancy, wouldn’t you ?

What does science say about implantation bleeding?

Remarkably, however, relatively little research has been done into vaginal bleeding during implantation. Scientist Snell has collected and compared all kinds of studies on vaginal bleeding during the first three months of pregnancy. His review shows that vaginal bleeding in the first three months of pregnancy occurs in approximately 15% to 25% of women. In about half of women, the blood loss is harmless and the pregnancy is not terminated. Snell states that some women experience vaginal bleeding around implantation and that this harmless bleeding is caused by the fertilized egg “piercing” the uterine wall. This blood loss is only a small amount and may be bright red in color.
However, the blood loss can also be caused by a spontaneous abortion or miscarriage or a condition, such as an ectopic pregnancy. If there is heavy bleeding accompanied by fever, abdominal pain or clots in the blood, you should contact a doctor for an examination. During this examination, the woman’s medical history is examined in detail, such as age, previous pregnancies, menstrual cycle, medication and use of contraceptives. An internal examination is then performed and a laboratory test can be done.

In conclusion, little is known about implantation bleeding and what it may and may look like. If in doubt, always contact your doctor or midwife, especially if the blood loss is accompanied by abdominal pain, blood clots and fever.