Cramps are a part of menstrual period and certainly one of the worst pains women experience. However, for women trying to conceive, it’s important to understand the difference between period cramps and implantation cramps.
The latter usually denotes an early sign of pregnancy. That’s why expecting mums need to understand the causes and differences between the two cramps, and how can you recognise either.
To make things easier, we tell you all you need to know about implantation cramps.
What Are Implantation Cramps?
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When a fertilised egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus, you call this process implantation. Cramping occurs when this happens, but it’s not necessarily painful every time.
When experiencing implantation cramps, doctors will advise you to stay away from anti-inflammatory medicines such as aspirin. This is because such medications increase the risk of a miscarriage.
Implantation Cramps vs Period Cramps: What’s The Difference?
Now that we know what causes implantation cramps, how do you identify between this one and the regular old period cramp?
Let’s understand one thing first, a menstrual period occurs once every 28 days. There is no escaping from it. In fact, a regular menstrual cycle points at a healthy body. It also points towards no pregnancy, which may be a yay or nay, depending on where you are in life.
Now, what triggers menstrual cramps is when the uterus contracts to expel its lining. The prostaglandins in the body trigger the uterine muscles to contract. The prostaglandins trigger the pain and inflammation, which causes cramping.
Are Cramps And Bleeding Common?
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One of the major differentiators between menstrual cramps and implantation cramps is bleeding. Not everyone bleeds during implantation cramps. Meanwhile, there’s a higher chance you will bleed with period cramps.
A study conducted in 2010 saw only a quarter of the participants bleeding in their first trimester. About eight per cent of the participants reported heavy bleeding, while the study further noted that about 28 per cent had spotting and light bleeding, and also reported pain.
Furthermore, 54 per cent participants reported heavy bleeding and also pain.
Implantation Cramps: How Do You Identify?
Cramps aren’t necessarily common during the implantation period. In other cases they are mild or moderate.
Implantation cramps have been described as:
- Tingling feeling
This is one of the biggest differentiators from menstrual cramps since they aren’t as painful.
It’s not usual to have painful implantation cramps. So if you do end up having them, it’s best advised to visit a doctor.
Implantation takes place about six to 12 days after ovulation. That’s about the same time a woman would normally expect their period to start.
So if an egg has been fertilised, your body is preparing the uterus lining to protect the egg that will turn into an embryo and then a foetus.
Ideally, you will see some light bleeding or spotting during implantation cramps. This is termed implantation bleeding and the flow is lighter than the menstrual cycle.
Other Signs Of Pregnancy To Watch Out For
While implantation cramps are an early sign of pregnancy, it’s easy to mistake them for menstrual cramps.
However, if you are expecting to conceive, look out for the following signs as well:
- Tender, swollen and heavier breasts
- Vomiting and nausea
- Mood swings
- Higher body temperature
- Missed period
When Should You Test For Pregnancy?
If you think you are experiencing implantation cramps and are also experiencing other signs of pregnancy, now would be a good time to take the test.
Ideally, wait about a week or two to conduct a home test. There are plenty of home test kits available that will give you an accurate result before you head to a gynaecologist.
From the early stages of pregnancy, the body starts releasing the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) pregnancy hormone.
In the two week period since the early signs, the hormone levels increase in your blood. This allows for a more accurate test result.
Do remember, the doctor will conduct their own test to confirm the pregnancy. Do speak to your doctor if you are experiencing heavy bleeding or cramping in the early stages. It may point towards complications.
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