What Does Implantation Cramping Feel Like?

Is That Cramping Your Period or the Earliest Sign of Pregnancy?

When you're trying to get pregnant, you tune into your body for any little sign that could mean this is the month. Cramping around that time of the month usually means it's time for your period, but it can also be an early sign of pregnancy that comes with implantation. The way the cramping feels can help you determine the cause.

What Is Implantation?

young woman with pregnancy test kit

What Are the Causes of Abdominal Cramping & Period Lateness?

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During ovulation, your ovaries release an egg, which gets fertilized in your fallopian tube. Once it travels to the uterus, the fertilized egg attaches to the inner layer of the uterus. Referred to as implantation, this process happens six to 12 days after conception.

What Does Implantation Cramping Feel Like?

When the fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall, it can cause uterine cramping. The cramping is generally very faint and minor. Cramping doesn't increase in intensity if it is associated with implantation, and not all women experience implantation cramping.

What are Other Symptoms of Implantation and Early Pregnancy?

young woman with pregnancy test kit

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Another common symptom of implantation is light bleeding. This bleeding usually remains light rather than picking up in intensity like menstrual bleeding. The color tends to be pink or brown instead of bright red if the bleeding is due to implantation.

Other early symptoms of pregnancy include:

  • Breast soreness, tenderness or other changes
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea and morning sickness
  • Smell sensitivity
  • Food aversions or cravings
  • Bloating
  • Constipation

How to Tell the Difference Between Implantation and Menstruation

Implantation bleeding and cramping happen around the same time you should get your next period, so many women aren't sure if they're pregnant or menstruating. Implantation symptoms are usually different than period symptoms in intensity, however. Cramping is generally less severe than cramping with your period. Spotting is also much lighter than bleeding at menstruation and is pink or brown instead of red.

Think about what's normal for you. Does this month seem different? Are you experiencing additional symptoms that are associated with pregnancy? The cramping and bleeding could be your body's way of telling you that you're expecting.

When to Take a Pregnancy Test

Since the symptoms of implantation and early pregnancy can be similar, the only way to know for sure if you're pregnant is by taking a pregnancy test. Home pregnancy tests typically work about 12 to 15 days after ovulation. Taking the test too early can lead to a false negative result even if you're pregnant. Waiting a little longer to take the test increases the chances of an accurate result.

When to Call Your Doctor

If you see a positive pregnancy test result, call your doctor to schedule an appointment. You can also go to your doctor to have a pregnancy test done if you think you may be pregnant.