Ovulation and Implantation bleeding: What you should know
While in the clinic, I met a young lady that was very concerned about spotting from her vagina. She was worried and at the same time excited about the likelihood of being pregnant.
She was in her late thirties and has been married for over seven years without a child. She told me that she has had difficult times with her husband and other members of his family.
Why? because she is yet to give him a child. And worst still, her husband is the only child of his parents. So, in other words, she must give birth to save her marriage.
Just a few weeks before she came to the hospital, she already received news about the possibility of another wife coming after her. Her in-laws are not taking chances when it comes to keeping their lineage alive.
So, when she saw mild spotting coming from her vagina, she was so happy and excited. But, she was confused and scared. Is it my period or maybe something else?
She told me that over the years she has been reading so many articles online. In fact, she can tell me all the signs and symptoms of pregnancy offhand.
One of those symptoms that she thought she was already experiencing is implantation bleeding. She felt mild spotting, a small gush of light pink blood that was extremely light to be called her period.
So, because she wanted to be sure, she came over to the clinic to get more information and to confirm if she is pregnant or not.
In the end, after taking a pregnancy test and carrying out other investigations, we identified that she was not pregnant.
So, could light spotting be a reliable sign of pregnancy?
What is implantation bleeding and how to identify it?
Like every other woman in their reproductive age, it is important you know the most common signs of pregnancy. Implantation bleeding is not one of the commonest signs you may experience but has been identified in over thirty percent of pregnant women.
In other words, one in three women who get pregnant will have experienced it. At this point, you may be wondering, is this fact or not. Yes, it is, and a lot of women have confirmed its existence.
What is implantation bleeding?
Just like my patient, most women trying to conceive will have felt precisely the same way in the past. It may not be light spotting you identified, but it could be nausea, waist pain, lower abdominal cramps or even breast tenderness.
Each time you feel this way, of course, you feel downhearted and need to continue your search for a baby.
Well, today, I will teach you another sign you can identify on your own. It is called implantation bleeding.
Medically, implantation bleeding is light vaginal spotting that comes down from the vaginal area just before your next period. To fully grasp the concept of implantation bleeding I will need to medically define the term implantation (in a simple way)
Implantation is the process where a fertilized egg is implanted into the wall of a thickened endometrium.
So, to simplify, the fertilized egg results from the union of a male’s sperm and the female’s ovum. After sexual intercourse, your boyfriends or husbands sperm moves quickly up to the uterus and then to the fallopian tubes.
Right there in the fallopian tubes they continually wait until the release of an egg from your ovaries. The ovaries are the reproductive organs in women, and during each cycle, they discharge a well-developed egg into the fallopian tubes (a process called ovulation).
Right there in the fallopian tube (at the end near the ovaries), the sperm fuses with the egg forming the fertilized egg called embryo.
Now, the fallopian tubes are tube-like structures of the uterus. These tubes are not anatomically structured to care from an embryo.
So, through the actions of ciliated cells and muscular contractions of the tubes, the embryo is slowly moved into the uterus.
At the uterus, it slowly digs into a thickened covering. This lining is the endometrium, and usually, gets thickened towards the end of your menstrual cycle (because of the actions of a hormone called progesterone).
As the embryo fits into the endometrium, it causes a small amount of bleeding around that area resulting in implantation bleeding.
Therefore, implantation bleeding is an early sign of pregnancy identified before your expected next period through a blood-stained discharge.
What does implantation bleeding looks like?
Another question, of course, is how implantation looks like. Well, implantation bleeding is tricky because you may miss it if you are not knowledgeable about your menstrual cycle.
To start with, it is important I explain what your menstrual cycle means. Most women in their reproductive age usually experience, at most times, a regular menses every month.
This means, each month you get your period and it may last for three to seven days. Now, the first day of your period is the first day of your menstrual cycle.
Simply put, if I were to be a woman (which am not), and started having my period on the 7th of January, then that same day is the first day of my menstrual cycle.
Now, the length of your menstrual cycle is identified by the days in between two of your menstrual cycle. So, again, if my next period shows up on the 4th of February, I will simply count the number of days in between which is 28 days.
In other words, I have a 28 a day menstrual cycle. We must also know that your menstrual cycle can vary each month and it’s possible you could have a different menstrual cycle length from your friends.
The normal range is 21 to 35 days.
So, if you’ve identified your menstrual cycle length, we must now identify when ovulation happens in your menstrual cycle. Because without identifying ovulation, you may miss the timing of implantation.
How to identify ovulation period on your own
If you’ve already identified your menstrual cycle length and know the number of days in between, we must then know when you ovulate.
As already mentioned, this is critical to easily tell when you are most likely to have implantation bleeding and its symptoms in your menstrual cycle.
I’ve discussed ovulation earlier on in this article, but in simple terms, it is defined as the release or discharge of one or more eggs from the ovary.
So, if you can tell when you ovulate, you can predict when implantation will happen in your menstrual cycle.
Now, there are different parts of the menstrual cycle. To simplify, I will divide the menstrual cycle into two parts so you can easily understand.
The first part of the menstrual cycle happens from the first day of your period to when ovulation occurs. The second part of the menstrual cycle occurs from when ovulation occurs to when you get your next period.
The first part of the menstrual cycle varies among women. This is the reason some women have a 28-day cycle and others a 30-day cycle. However, the second part of the menstrual cycle is mostly constant ranging from 14 to 16 days.
So, this means, it is quite easy to tell when you last ovulated than tell the exact time your next ovulation will be.
Let me simplify again.
I am going to assume I’m a lady. Here are the dates of my last two period — Ist of January and 30th of January.
So, my menstrual cycle length is 30 days. Also, ovulation most likely occurred on the 16th of January which is 14 days from the next period (30th).
Therefore, its quite easy to tell when ovulation has occurred than to predict when it will happen. Now, this scenario completely changes in women that have a regular cycle.
Let assume you have a 28-day menstrual cycle. It means you are likely to ovulate in the middle of your menstrual cycle which is on the 14th day.
Are there ways to tell when your next ovulation will occur?
We already know its quite easy to identify your last ovulation from your previous period. But can we go a step further and predict when we actually ovulate in the menstrual cycle? Yes we can.
There are so many signs of ovulation that you can track on your own. I will explain a few you can identify
Just around the time of ovulation, it is not uncommon for women to experience pain in both of their breast. This happens because of the rise in estrogen that occurs around ovulation.
So, if you are around the middle of your menstrual cycle and feel tightness around your breast area with pain, it possible you are just about to ovulate.
Yes, this may sound funny, but some women experience a sharp, sudden, short-lived pain on the right or left side of their belly when they ovulate.
This pain is called Mittelschmerz or ovulation pain, and it occurs in just twenty percent of women. Pain is usually on one side; however, you may experience abdominal pain on both sides if both ovaries release an egg. This is rare.
3. Ovulation discharge
Another way you can tell ovulation has occurred is vaginal discharge during ovulation.
Before ovulation happens, most women can attest to a change in the texture of the vaginal fluid. It becomes more watery and stretchy. That is, if you were to dip your finger into the vaginal canal you would feel a lot more discharge that hardly breaks when stretched with your fingers.
If you get this type of discharge, then you are already in your fertile period. This means you can get pregnant easily.
Other signs of ovulation include the high soft cervix, watery discharge, increased drive for sexual intercourse, and abdominal tightness or bloating.
Since we’ve already understood the menstrual cycle, and when ovulation occurs with its signs, it time to know when implantation happens in your menstrual cycle.
For most women that get pregnant, implantation happens six to twelve days after ovulation has occurred. It is quite variable as no two women are the same. In some women, implantation occurs as early as six days after ovulation.
While in others it could be delayed until twelve days after ovulation.
This delay results from the time taken for the fertilized embryo to be conveyed from the fallopian tube to the body of the uterus.
Learn me simplify with examples. Let’s assume my last two period occurred on the 1st of January and 28th of January.
This means, ovulation likely happened on the 14th of January. So, implantation is most likely to happen from 20th to 26th of the menstrual cycle.
In other words, implantation bleeding should happen before your next expected period date. It could be a week or days from your period as no two women are the same.
So, if you are searching for a baby, light vaginal bleeding before your period could be a sign.
Is implantation bleeding a reliable sign of pregnancy?
Let’s be frank. Implantation bleeding is by no way a reliable way to tell if you are pregnant or not. But as expected, it could help bring some calm to the nerves of women struggling with infertility.
Most women need an early sign to identify if they are pregnant or not. They are going through a lot of emotionally and need a clue if they are pregnant.
In this case, implantation bleeding could help, but as I previously mentioned, it is not reliable
Why? There are so many different reasons a woman will experience light vaginal spotting. And in most cases, it is not because you are pregnant.
In fact, it is still debatable if implantation bleeding truly occurs or if it is due to progesterone drop that happens in the later part of the menstrual cycle.
Let me explain. After ovulation, the ruptured follicle forms what is called the corpus luteum which helps in the production of a hormone called progesterone.
A woman’s body is proactive, and during each cycle, it naturally prepares for pregnancy. This hormone helps in the thickening of the inner covering of the uterus (called the endometrium). When you get pregnant, the baby is implanted into the endometrium.
However, a few days before the start of a woman period, there is a drop is the level of progesterone which reduces the stability of the uterine endometrium. This can result in light vaginal spotting.
Other reasons for vaginal spotting are fibroids, vaginal infections, cervical trauma or polyps, and endometrial hyperplasia.
As a Christian, I understand that God gives children. But he has given us the power to quickly know if we are pregnant or not. Signs like fatigue, body weakness, food craving or eversion, weight gain, abdominal cramps, and back pain are common pregnancy signs.
Likewise, implantation spotting is another sign of pregnancy. However, it is not completely reliable, and so, you must see your doctor or take a pregnancy test.