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Implantation bleeding can often be mistaken for the start of a period, and if it lasts longer than a few hours, or more than a panty liner can take, it likely could be your period.
According to the American Pregnancy Association website, implantation occurs roughly at six to 12 days after fertilization of an egg by sperm. It happens when the egg implants itself in the lining of the uterus, and can be accompanied by mild spotting and some cramping, but not always. Implantation bleeding only happens in about 10 percent of all pregnancies.
Implantation does not occur with a normal period, and only if an egg has been fertilized. It often is one of the first signs of pregnancy. So if there isn’t any spotting, the other main indicator of pregnancy—a missed period—could happen, and you could get a positive pregnancy test at that time.
Other things that could be mistaken for implantation bleeding include actual menstruation, changes in menstruation, forgetting to take birth control pills regularly, infection, or irritation from sexual activity.
Some women can bleed periodically during pregnancy, but this is not a period. It can be caused by irritation of the cervix or vagina, or could indicate a problem with the pregnancy. If you experience bleeding during pregnancy, it is important to call your doctor or go to the emergency room.
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American Pregnancy Association: Pregnancy Symptoms—Early Signs of Pregnancy
Babycenter.com: Your Pregnancy, 3 Weeks
Christine Jeffries is a writer/editor for work and at heart, and lives in a home of testosterone with her husband and two sons. Christine is interested in women’s health and promoting strong women.