How to Tell the Difference between Implantation Bleeding and a Period

Since both implantation bleeding and a period involve shedding some amount of blood from the same parts of the body, lots of people are often confused about them. However, it is worthwhile to note that a period and implantation bleeding are significantly different from one another. Perhaps you are finding it difficult to tell the difference between these two phenomena, this article will shed light on them.

At the beginning of pregnancy, there is the fertilization of an egg inside the fallopian tube. Afterward, the fertilized egg will travel to the uterus where the fetus will develop. However, the egg has to attach itself to the uterine wall, and this often leads to bleeding. This bleeding is often referred to as implantation bleeding.

A period, on the other hand, occurs due to hormonal changes (progesterone and estrogen) that build up the linings of the uterus. When a fertilized egg doesn’t attach to the built-up lining, it will break down and lead to the discharge of menses and flow of blood. Notably, a period is also called menstruation. —However, for those who experience severe period pain, finding effective period pain relief can be a game-changer in managing symptoms.

Based on the descriptions, implantation bleeding may act as the beginning of a pregnancy. In many situations, this doesn’t apply to a period.

Duration of blood flow

Once implantation bleeding has started, you can expect it to last for about 1 to 3 days. For a period, its duration ranges from 4 to 7 days.

Duration of cramping

One of the major differences between implantation bleeding and a period lies in the duration of their cramping. Although the cramping of implantation bleeding can be either light or intense, it usually lasts for about 1 day. Some women may not even experience any cramps. Comparatively, cramps of the period are usually more intense than implantation except in rare situations. Also, a woman can experience the cramping of menstruation for about 2 to 3 days. So, if your cramps last for a long period, it may be your monthly cycle.

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By paying attention to the color of blood flow, you may be able to tell the difference between these two phenomena. Typically, period bleeding starts as brown or light pink. Over time, it will change to crimson red. Sometimes, it may change to brown before the end of the period. But if your blood flow is pinky-brown, it is likely that you are dealing with implantation bleeding.


Clots are solidified blood that may be noticed in your blood flow. Generally, large clots are often seen when you are menstruating. Implantation bleeding, on the other hand, doesn’t result in the solidification of blood (clots). So, seeing large clots inside your blood flow could be a surefire way to tell that it is your period.


In most cases, implantation bleeding is inconsistent as it shows an on-and-off pattern. In other words, you may experience it for some periods, and then it will suddenly disappear for some days before reappearing.

When a period is compared to it, there is a noticeable difference. This is because menstruation is usually consistent. That is, once it has started, it will occur for some days. It will not just disappear after some hours and reappear after a few days.
So, if you have noticed some consistency in the blood flow, you are likely experiencing menstruation.

Strength of flow

Generally, the strength of the flow of implantation bleeding is often light. Resultantly, you are likely not going to experience any intense pain or cramps during this period. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that you cannot encounter heavy blood flow during implantation bleeding.

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However, a period tends to be quite different because the strength of its flow usually changes. It often starts light but becomes stronger and more intense as time goes on.
Notably, you can also encounter heavy blood flow without having a period or implantation bleeding. Such a heavy blood flow could be first trimester bleeding, which affects about 15 to 25% of all pregnant women.

Associated symptoms

The symptoms that accompany the blood flow are other important factors you can use to tell whether the condition is implantation bleeding or a period. Typically, because of the hormonal changes that precede a period, you may experience different symptoms such as headaches and breast tenderness before or during your menstrual cycle.
However, you will hardly experience these symptoms before or during implantation bleeding, but they can come after it. Also, you may feel as if you are pregnant after the bleeding.

As shown above, some signs can help you to tell the difference between implantation bleeding and a period. Nonetheless, these signs may be quite confusing in a lot of cases. Therefore, if you are struggling with telling whether you are having a period or implantation bleeding, you should consider using an implantation calculator. This implantation calculator helps you to understand if you are dealing with implantation bleeding or not. Also, you can undergo a pregnancy test to know if you are pregnant or not.