Can Implantation Bleeding Be Heavy?

Many women of childbearing age become anxious when they experience abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharges that are not congruent to their normal menstrual cycles. For some, they regard it as a type of dysfunctional uterine bleeding while others say it's just normal, as in the case of minor spotting and mild implantation bleeding. But the concern grows if the alleged implantation bleeding does not seem right. For example, can implantation bleeding be heavy? This is one of the most common questions asked by women who are excited to conceive for the first time but experience some heavy vaginal discharges between conception and their expected menstrual period dates.

Differentiating Implantation Bleeding, Spotting, and Menstrual Periods

Implantation bleeding is the bleeding that usually takes place 10-14 days after the actual date of conception and is before the expected menstrual period. So if you have conceived on the 7th day, it is likely that you will experience this type of bleeding on the 17th to 21st day. This condition is normal and should not cause any concern. The bleeding occurs as a result of the actual physical implantation of the fertilized ovum (egg) in the uterine lining. As such, the bleeding is expected to be short in duration, scant, and lighter in consistency as opposed to regular menstrual periods. The color is usually pink to brown.

Implantation bleeding does not occur in all early pregnant women. There's also a big chance that the woman will fail to recognize its presence. Some may even confuse it with their last menstrual period, which potentially messes up the computation of their child's age. Heavy implantation bleeding can also occur in some occasions, but it should only be for a short time.

Although the nature of the discharges is almost similar to implantation bleeding, spotting is different from the former because it occurs more often and at irregular gaps (usually between menstrual periods). This is the reason why it is also known as intermenstrual bleeding, or metrorrhagia. Spotting can be a result of ovulation (either normal or irregular) and the use of oral contraceptives. Pathological spotting occurs due to physical trauma, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, hormonal imbalances, cervical cancer, and other cancers of the reproductive system.

For normal menstruation, it is important to take note that the menstruation phase lasts for about four days (and two to three days more or less). For regular menstrual cycles, it usually occurs on the 28th day of the cycle and can vary plus or minus seven days (or more) for irregular periods. The discharge is red, mild to heavy in amount, and can be accompanied by clots.

Treatment for Heavy Implantation Bleeding

Because heavy implantation bleeding can be considered normal, treatment is only encouraged if the bleeding persists for more than three days. Normally, implantation bleeding is expected to be short and light. On the other hand, vaginal spotting requires treatment if there is a proven pathologic cause.

Nevertheless, you should get in touch with your health care provider right away if you experience any of the following:

  • Heavy and prolonged vaginal bleeding when pregnancy has already been established
  • Bleeding after you have reached menopause
  • Prolonged heavy bleeding with regular menstrual periods
  • Vaginal bleeding has accompanying symptoms like extreme pain and dizziness.
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