Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.
Studies show that implantation bleeding and its associated symptoms are experienced by 20% to 30% of women during early pregnancy. You may be aware that when ovulation takes place, the ovary releases the egg. After a sperm fertilizes the egg, they become an embryo and travel towards the uterus. The embryo implants itself into the lining of the uterus, which is known as the endometrial lining. This endometrium is rich in blood and nutrients and hence, once the embryo attaches itself, a small amount of blood passes out of the body through the vagina. This bleeding is known as implantation bleeding or spotting. After the fertilization of the egg, it takes 6 - 12 days for implantation to take place.
Is cramping with light bleeding a sign of pregnancy?
Technically speaking, cramps during implantation bleeding alone are not a sign of pregnancy. In order to be sure, both need to be accompanied by other pregnancy symptoms like nausea, vomiting, a bloated abdomen, sensitive breasts, fatigue, mood swings, headaches, and craving for certain food items. A constant rise in your basal body temperature for more than two weeks is also observed in many women. The best time to take a pregnancy test is 10 days after ovulation occurs; i.e., 3 to 4 days after implantation so that the tests can provide accurate results.
Implantation Bleeding and Cramping
◆ Light cramping is a common occurrence. However, severe cramps could be one of the early ectopic pregnancy symptoms, especially if accompanied by other symptoms like pelvic pain, shoulder pain, weakness or dizziness, blood clotting, and heavy bleeding that extends beyond five days. Ectopic pregnancy occurs outside the uterus in either the Fallopian tube, abdomen, ovary, or cervix. If you are pregnant and experience either of these symptoms, consult a gynecologist immediately for a thorough examination.
◆ Cramps and bleeding may also occur due to functional ovarian cysts. These are small, thin, fluid-filled sacs formed on the surface of a woman's ovaries during ovulation. Normally, they shrink on their own after the egg is released. However, they may also leak or rupture. In such a scenario, they cause vaginal bleeding and severe cramps in the lower abdomen, between a menstrual cycle. It may also cause nausea and a delay in the menstrual cycle. These symptoms are similar to the symptoms of implantation bleeding, and the only difference is the severity of the cramps and heavy bleeding.
◆ In pregnancy, cramps may occur without the bleeding. After fertilization, the egg implants itself in the endometrial lining and this causes the muscles of the uterus to contract. The contraction of muscles can cause cramps in some cases with or without the bleeding. If you are already pregnant and are experiencing cramps and heavy bleeding, it might not be implantation bleeding at all . As both these can be a sign of a miscarriage.
◆ Cramps may be totally unrelated to pregnancy and can be experienced during a normal menstrual cycle. Cramping usually begins a week before the periods. If the bleeding and cramping is immediately followed by a normal menstrual cycle then it is probably not implantation bleeding.
The whole situation should not be taken lightly. Any vaginal discharge along with cramping between the menstrual cycle should be brought to the notice of a doctor, as there can be numerous reasons. If your pregnancy is confirmed, it becomes even more important to consult a doctor, for yourself and your child's health.