What Do You Mean By Implantation?
Ovulation usually happens in the middle of your menstruation. A normal cycle lasts between 21 and 35 days and ovulation should occur between the 12th and 17th day. About 40% of women conceived on the 9th day after ovulation. Once the egg is fertilized, it moves through the fallopian tubes and goes directly to the uterine cavity.
It takes around 6-7 days for the egg to complete the journey changing from a zygote, to morula (development stage of fertilized ovum), and then transform finally to blastocyst. It then takes 2-3 days to travel into the uterine cavity and get ready for implantation. Hence, implantation is defined as the process by which the embryo attaches to the endometrial surface of the uterus and invades the epithelium and then the maternal circulation to form the placenta.
Stages of Implantation: There are 3 stages of implantation:
- Apposition: When blastocyst contacts the implantation site of the endometrium (uterus lining)
- Adhesion: When trophoblast cells of the blastocyst attach to the receptive endometrial epithelium.
- Invasion: It occurs when invasive trophoblast cells cross the endometrial epithelial basement membrane and invade the endometrial stroma.
Possible Symptoms Of Implantation: Occasionally, women might experience symptoms such as:
- Implantation cramping
- Implantation spotting
- Changes in progesterone level
- Missed periods
- Food aversion
- Breast tenderness
What is Implantation Cramping?
When implantation happens, the mucous membrane of the uterine lining changes which allow the blastocyst to the implant which may cause implantation cramping. These are mild and can be accompanied by implantation bleeding, also called light spotting.
However, only a few women experience implantation cramps and bleeding. Some women do not experience and are lucky enough not to have any cramping during early pregnancy.
When Will You Experience Implantation Cramping?
When the women have conceived successfully, and to safeguard the embryo within the womb, it is securely implanted within the uterine walls, which takes off the mucous membrane within it, allowing it to securely build itself on it. This is when implantation cramping is usually observed.
Causes: Why Does Implantation Cramping Occur?
First, It may be due to the process of attachment of blastocyst to uterus lining, that causes the prostaglandins activation. These chemical messengers are usually associated with pain, spasm and inflammation, that triggers the muscles of the uterus to contract, resulting in cramping.
Second, spotting or bleeding can be the factor. Usually, this will happen between 10-14 days after conception and is usually less painful than your normal menstrual cramps. Not every woman will experience the implantation cramps or bleeding.
Location: Where Do You Feel Implantation Cramping?
Since implantation occurs in the uterus, you will feel cramps in the lower part of the abdomen. It may occur in the surrounding areas too; you can also experience lower back pain. This pain may be similar to the pain experienced during periods.
Symptoms: How Do Implantation Cramps Feel Like?
Implantation cramps are typically associated with the feeling of being tugged or pulled internally within the body, combined with pricks of pain and spasm. It is very mild in nature. Some women may have light bleeding along with cramps. This is also a consequence of the implantation process.
What If You Don’t Feel Implantation Cramps?
You must know this, that many pregnant women do not experience any kind of implantation cramps at all. Research studies showed that only 25% of participants reported bleeding during their first trimester of pregnancy. Out of 25%, only 17% of the individuals reported spotting and 8% reported heavy bleeding. Common aspect reported by both groups was the pain. Whether you experience implantation cramping or not, always look out for some other possible signs of early pregnancy and take a pregnancy test to make sure if you are pregnant.
How Long Do You Have Implantation Cramps?
Every woman’s body is distinct and women can (and often do) undergo different things with each pregnancy. Sometimes cramping lasts for a few minutes other times it comes and goes frequently, and sometimes it’s relatively constant for days.
Implantation cramps are minor and typically last just 1-3 days maximum until the implantation process finished.
Are Implantation Cramps Always Accompanied By Implantation Bleeding?
Obviously No. You can have one without the other. Implantation cramps and spotting happen because the blastocyst implants into the uterus lining causing a bit of pain or light cramps. Other times it means some of the blood cells are loosened, resulting in implantation bleeding.
Other times both conditions may prevail; and sometimes neither.
Remember: Women bodies are all different and distinct, and signs of implantation (if any are present at all) differs from woman to woman.
Does Every Woman Experience Implantation Cramp?
No, not all women experience implantation cramp. Just like pregnancy, implantation pain also differs from woman to woman. Some women may experience just as a slight twinge, and others may have cramping for various days. Still, some may feel nothing at all. Physiology differences result in a range of experiences in implantation cramp.
Only 30% of women experience implantation cramping. If the abdominal spasm occurs around 7 – 12 days after ovulation, there is a pretty good chance of occurrence of implantation and the pain/spasm is an indicator.
Can It Be A Matter Of Concern?
Since cramping during early pregnancy is quite normal, but in a few cases, it indicates a serious problem mentioned herein:
- It may just be constipation or your uterus growing often, but it may be a sign of a miscarriage, placental abruption, ovarian cyst, urinary tract infection, or an ectopic pregnancy too, the time for concern!
- You should call your doctor if your spasm always seems to be on one side of the lower abdomen (whether severe or not), as this is an indication of ectopic pregnancy. If left untreated or ignored, an ectopic pregnancy may rupture the fallopian tubes, causing dangerous internal bleeding.
Remedial Measures For Implantation Cramping:
To get some relief from implantation cramps, you can try a few of these techniques:
- Try to Relax: worries only cause more tension and discomfort. So always try to relax; sit back and support your feet up to allow the pain pass.
- Take a Warm Bath: A warm bath also helps to relax and ease the stress. The warm water helps to relax the ligaments and muscles of the uterus, to get some relief from cramps.
- Get a Massage: Ask your partner to give you a nice back massage or locate a masseuse nearby area.
- Stay Hydrated: Getting plenty of liquids will facilitate in easing and preventing any kinds of cramps.
- Yoga: Yoga will help to relax your mind, get your blood flowing, and alleviate your cramp.
When is Implantation Cramping Mistaken For Something Else?
It may be possible that what seems does not exist and entirely opposite may be the case. If you are not pregnant, These are some possible reasons that are responsible for uterine cramping:
- Pre-Period Cramps: implantation cramping and PMS cramping are quite similar that may result in a confusing state of mind when cramps really occur.
- Digestive Cramping: Gas, indigestion, and food poisoning can be responsible for causing cramps in the abdomen, though this pain is associated with GIT.
- Ovulation Cramping: It happens when the follicles are ruptured and release the egg. You’ll experience discomfort which may be mild and pain on any side of your lower abdomen, depending on the ovary releasing an egg”
- Ovarian/Pelvic Cysts: If you feel intense pain, especially when it is accompanied by nausea or vomiting, it can be an ovarian cyst. Call your doctor soon.
Implantation Cramp Vs Menstrual Cramp
Implantation cramps are quite similar to your menstrual cycle, so it may be difficult to distinguish between menstrual cramps and implantation cramps. However, you can feel the difference if you pay attention to your symptoms.
- The Intensity Of Cramps: You should feel how heavy cramps are as Implantation cramps are mild and intermittent, and feel like pulling/tugging sensation. Whereas, menstrual cramps tend to be gradual and more intense for most women.
- Duration of Cramps: Implantation cramps last for 1-3 days until implantation is finished. If you’re experiencing pain for more than three days, then they are most likely to be PMS.
- Accompanied Implanted Bleeding: Implantation bleeding and implantation cramps go hand in hand which means they can be accompanied by each other. If you ’re bleeding and a bit before your period, you could have your implantation cramps. Implantation bleeding is much lighter and brown in colour, whereas PMS bleeding is typically intense red.
Is Cramping a Sign of Pregnancy?
Implantation cramping can be an early sign of pregnancy but experiencing cramps alone does not determine the pregnancy. It cannot be a conclusive sign as only 30% of women feel implantation cramping. The embryo can be barely distinguished by size and needs to grow.
You may access the homemade pregnancy kits to confirm the pregnancy. In this way, a woman may get to know whether her cramps are accompanied to implantation or not.
Is There Any Need to Worry?
Implantation cramping is common and there is nothing to worry about if you have usual cramps. However, if at all, you feel unusual or intense and the painful cramps that don’t seem to subside even after a few days, it is best to get in touch with a doctor.
When You Are Hoping For Pregnancy:
Remember that implantation cramping is not a confirmed sign of pregnancy one way or the other—some women may experience this but others may not. Try to relax, be kind and gentle to yourself (get enough to sleep and maintain your diet), and take a pregnancy test for confirmation.
Anti-inflammatories are the one that you should avoid after ovulation. They are not good if you are planning for a baby, as they can adversely affect the ability of the womb to extend protrusions of the uterine lining where the embryo gets implanted.
A study found that 80% increased risk of early miscarriage occurs with the use of anti-inflammatory at the time of conception. If you want to treat pain after ovulation occurs, You should consider taking acetaminophen-based painkillers like Tylenol, rather than anti-inflammatory (NSAID) like Advil.
Implantation cramps are an early sign of pregnancy but sometimes they are mistaken for menstrual cramps. You must know the early signs of pregnancy that can help you to determine which kind of cramps you’re experiencing, and an at-home pregnancy test can confirm whether you’re going to welcome a baby at your home or if it’s just a cramp occurring in PMS.
We know that there are physiological differences that result in implantation cramping experiences. Implantation cramps are mild and resolve on their own in one to three days. So, there is nothing to worry about at all if it does not persist for more than the possible days. If it becomes severe and troublesome then consult your doctor for advice. Implantation cramp is also a sign that you may welcome a baby at your home that also requires you to consult your doctor.
- Su-Mi Kim and Jong-Soo Kim A Review of Mechanisms of Implantation Published online 2017 Dec 31.
- Patterns and predictors of vaginal bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy
- Exposure to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs during pregnancy and risk of miscarriage: a population-based cohort study