How do you tell the difference between implantation cramps and your period? If you’re cramping and it’s still a few days before your period is due, you might wonder whether the pain you’re experiencing could be an early sign of pregnancy. Is there any way to know for sure?
The short answer is: not really. While there are some subtle differences between period cramps and implantation cramps, they aren’t obvious enough to be conclusive.
But as long as we’re symptom spotting, let’s indulge ourselves. We’ll explain the identifying features of implantation cramps by delving into what’s actually happening in your body during very early pregnancy.
What are implantation cramps?
First, let’s get one thing out of the way. The phrase “implantation cramps” is a misnomer. Implantation of the embryo in the uterine wall is painless and imperceptible, but it can sometimes lead to secondary cramping. Most women who experience implantation cramps say that they barely noticed them—just some slight cramping that feels similar to gas. Other women experiencing cramping or lower back pain similar to menstrual cramps. Sometimes the cramps are accompanied by spotting, which is sometimes incorrectly referred to as implantation bleeding, and sometimes they aren’t. All of these are normal.
When does implantation occur?
The embryo implants between seven and 10 days after ovulation (most frequently nine days after ovulation), which can make possible cramping and light spotting very hard to distinguish from the usual cramping and spotting that many women experience in the days leading up to their periods.
If you feel like your body is playing tricks on you every month, you’re not alone. A lot of women assume some spotting and cramping is due to implantation, then go on to get their period a few days later. And if you don’t track your cycle, it can be hard to distinguish if symptoms your experiencing are related to ovulation, implantation, or simply your period on its way. A lot of women assume these same symptoms are just early signs of their period, then go on to find out they’re actually pregnant!
The bottom line.
The truth is, there’s just no conclusive way to know if bleeding or cramping before your period indicates pregnancy. The best course of action is to wait until your period was supposed to arrive, then take a pregnancy test.