What are the first signs and symptoms of embryo implantation?

The egg, once fertilized, starts developing and migrates to the uterine cavity to adhere to the endometrium, which means that a new pregnancy begins. Although most pregnant women do not feel symptoms of embryo implantation at this moment yet, it is possible to notice certain changes, as implantation bleeding or discharge, amongst other very early implantation signs that you can find explained below.

The various sections of this article are assembled in the following table of contents.

Stages of the embryo implantation process

Egg implantation is the process by which the embryo adheres to the endometrium, thereby allowing the fetus to receive by blood doping the oxygen and nutrients it needs from the mother. This way it will be able to continue its development. Implantation begins on the seventh or eighth day after egg fertilization by the sperm, and goes on until about the end of the second week.

For such purpose, a necessary embryo-maternal dialogue occurs through a kind of root-shaped prolongations that extend to the cervical mucus, and are produced by the embryo.

To be able to embed, it is necessary for the embryo to have reached the blastocyst stage, and to be able to break down the blood vessels of the endometrial lining. This will allow the mother’s and the embryo’s blood to mix and exchange. The fact that the embryo damages these endometrial blood vessels is what causes what is known as implantation bleeding.

To learn more about the steps involved in embryo implantation, we recommend to visit this guide: Embryo implantation: process and stages.

The increase in hormones after implantation generates pregnancy symptoms. Usually they start later, but sometimes they can be noticeable at very early stages. Usually, women start noticing it later, around the 2nd or 3rd week after fertilization. However, some women notice such symptoms previously.

When the embryo invades and penetrates the endometrial lining, the woman can notice a light bleeding or spotting called implantation bleeding.

When does implantation bleeding occur?

A few days after implantation, some women can have a light vaginal bleeding or spotting, known as implantation bleeding or spotting.

How long implantation bleeding lasts depends on each woman. More often than not, it occurs as a one-time event, which means that it is not a dark red, heavy bleeding, and it often lasts from a few days to 4-5 days or a week. Typically, it comes in the form of just a few drops or a tiny spot.

Implantation bleeding or period?

Implantation spotting or bleeding is expelled through the vagina, and therefore can be confused with menstruation. It usually occurs on day 7 through day 10 after ovulation, concurring with the day at which the period is expected to start. For this reason, it can lead to confusion and uncertainty.

Bleeding because of implantation usually occurs a few days after implantation. Although it may be confused with menstrual bleeding, implantation bleeding is characterized by a more fluid texture than that of menstrual periods. Its color can vary from rosy to brownish.

Also, implantation bleeding can occur as a one-time event, or be present for a few hours through several days, in the form of a light, intermittent spotting. Although it is rather uncommon, it can be prolonged for 5 or even 7 days or more.

Other common signs accompanying implantation bleeding

In addition to the duration of implantation bleeding, its consistency and color, the woman may experience other pregnancy symptoms that can help her to determine whether it is actually implantation bleeding or period flow. One should, however, keep in mind that certain pregnancy symptoms are very similar to PMS symptoms, and for this reason they can be easily confused.

Other symptoms which may be remarkable if they occur when menstruation finishes are:

  • One- to two-day cramping, similar to painful menstrual periods.
  • Slight swelling of the breasts, especially around the areola and the nipple.
  • Digestive disturbances because of diarrhea or constipation; heartburn.
  • Constant urge to urinate.
  • Sleepiness, especially after having eaten.
  • Nausea or even vomiting, especially after waking up, usually from the second week onwards.
  • Abhorrence of food, tobacco and certain smells.
  • First food cravings, a larger number of foods but less nourishing.

Too-frequent observations of any type of sign or change in our organism, together with an unrestrained desire to have a child, can cause you to feel pregnancy symptoms even if you are not pregnant.

In any case, the best you can do is waiting at least 12 days post ovulation (DPO) to take a pregnancy test and to answer your questions.

FAQs from users

What implantation symptoms will I experience after IUI?

If you undergo IUI (intrauterine insemination) and it is successful, the embryo will adheres to your endometrium as if pregnancy has occurred naturally, that is, by means of intercourse. So, taking this into account, the symptoms and signs you are likely to notice are exactly the same as in any other woman.

What does implantation bleeding look like?

On a pad or toilet paper, for instance, the color of implantation bleeding can be pinkish red, or even brownish, depending on each woman. Yet, in general, its color is not bright red as in the case of period flow.

Does implantation bleeding have clots?

Yes. Although it is commonly believed that having a red blood flow with a few clots translates into a miscarriage by default, you should not worry as this is not always true in most of the cases. In fact, typically, nearly half of all pregnant women who have successfully had a healthy child have experienced some bleeding while being pregnant.

Can implantation bleeding occur the day of your expected period?

Yes. In fact, this is the reason why it is confused with menstruation so often. It can look and even feel like a normal period, and in some cases can be as red as period flow, though rarely. As explained earlier, its color varies from pinkish to brownish, and in some cases is kind of watery/jelly-like and not as abundant as period flow.

Can implantation bleeding affect the results of a pregnancy test?

Yes, you can take a pregnancy test from day 12 through 15 after ovulation. Experts do recommend to wait until you miss your period, as this way you leave a reasonable period of time for your hCG levels to increase should embryo implantation in uterus have occurred.

Does embryo implantation make you tired?

Yes. As a matter of fact, fatigue is one of the most common symptoms accompanying implantation bleeding. Implantation can make you feel quite tired all day long because the progesterone hormone increases when a woman is pregnant and acts as a sedative.

Does everyone get symptoms of implantation?

No, there is no reason why. Some women notice implantation symptoms and some do not. Also, for some might be very obvious, but for others they are basically the same as their common PMS symptoms.

Can you notice symptoms as early as after sperm implantation?

The term sperm implantation is actually incorrect and we suppose it refers to egg fertilization. What implants is the embryo after the sperm reaches the egg, and they fuse together. After that, the resulting embryo travels through the Fallopian tube toward the uterus. Once there, it will adhere to the endometrial lining, which is what we know as embryo implantation.

You can learn more about this process here: Sperm’s journey to the egg.

Suggested for you

We have explained briefly what is involved in the embryo implantation process but if you want to learn the details from fertilization to implantation, do not miss this guide: What is embryo implantation?

Got a positive pregnancy test and feeling implantation symptoms? Congratulations, you are expecting! If you want to learn what are the stages of pregnancy through which you are about to go through in the following nine months, we recommend that you read this post: Stages of pregnancy month by month.

19 comments

  1. avatar
    tulipan16

    Hello. I need help. I have a 2-embryo blast transfer done 11 days ago. I did an urine pregnancy test this morning and it’s negative, but I have all kind of symptoms: nauseas, pain in my leg, lower back pain, my boobs are really sor…. Besides, I have headache, bloating, and everyday I feel a lot of cramps similar to my period cramps.

    I wonder if this is normal or if I could be pregnant… My blood test is on Oct 14.

    Thanks for your help.

  2. usuario
    laura

    I had my embryo transfer 12 days ago and 3 embryo transfer but since yesterday I have brown spotting and from this morning pink discharge. Please, I need your response. Even sometimes I have back pain.

  3. usuario
    Martha

    HI! I am very new at this! I just had a 3-day, category C embryo transfer done on Feb 07/16 so I’m on day 9 after transfer. I was very uncomfortable for a few days after since I got hyperstimulated ovaries. So I’m not sure how to interpret my symptoms the first week. However, I did get very stuffy nose for 3 days and it stopped, massive headaches that last for less then a minute and go, I’m very thirsty and go to the bathroom more then usual. On day 7 and 8 during the day, I experienced period like cramps and I was very scared as I thought my period was going to show up any time, but this also stopped. My breasts feel a little tender but not too bad. I guess my questions is: is it a bad sign that I had more symptoms the first week and on and off cramps, but less symptoms on the second week? Thank you.

    • avatar
      Sandra F.Fertility counselor

      Hello Martha,

      The answer to your question is yes, because the symptoms you had are likely to be due to ovulation induction drugs taken for ovarian hyperstimulation.

      I hope I have been able to help,

      Best wishes

      • usuario
        Martha

        So, yes you think is a bad sign and that implantation may have not occurred?

        • avatar
          Sandra F.Fertility counselor

          Hello again Martha,

          No, there is no reason as to why it may be a bad sign. Not every woman experiences post transfer symptoms, without meaning that the treatment has been unsuccessful. In fact, as you said in your previous comment, you still have some symptoms, which may be due to embryo implantation. However, they may be an indicator that your period is about to show up soon as well. Be it as it may, we can’t be sure up until day 15 post embryo transfer.

          I hope I have been able to help again and you share your outcome with all of us,

          Best wishes

  4. usuario
    Reyhana

    Hi, this is my first time IVF cycle. Today is 4th day of embryo transfer. I feel cramping, exhausted, breast sore and strong food craving since the day of transfer. But, today I woke up with no cramping and no more breast sore 🙁 I don’t know why 🙁 I feel really worried and nervous. I’m afraid that my embryo will not implant in my uterus. I want to know why it has stopped cramping and breast sore? is it normal? Urine tests were negative. I have an hCG blood test 7 days later. Hopefully, the test will come out with positive! Pray for us, pls!

  5. usuario
    Domitila

    Hello Reyhana. I think you tested very early is only 4 days after transfer. Waiting for the blood test is the best choice. Do not pay too much attention to your symptoms because sometimes they could be due to the progesterone medications. Have faith, relax and pray… I was in the same situation as you on February and today I am 10 weeks pregnant. Be positive helped me a lot. I wishing you all the best. Keep my fingers crossed for you!!! Please, keep posted.

    Oh one more thing: keep your feet warm…

    • usuario
      Reyhana

      Thank you so much for your kind encouragement and prayers, Domitila! I do appreciate it very much!! A big congratulations to you and pray for u too! I do feel quite relieved after reading your reply 🙂

      FYI, I will have the blood test tomorrow morning due to some light bleeding for 3 day. Hope for the best! I will keep posting my experiences and results soon!

      Cheers! Take care dear!

  6. usuario
    Domitila

    Good luck pretty. Wishing you all the best…

  7. usuario
    Zara zia

    Hi…

    I’m new to IVF. I’m 41 yrs old. Cervical scan shows I’m in a good condition. I just had an embryo transferred on 6/4/2016 (day 3) and today 10/4/2016 would be day 7 of the procedure, since that I only felt very mild hotness at my lower abdomen. But today no more hot feeling and no pregnancy symptoms. FYI, I had 3 embryos transferred:

    1) 8-cell grade 1
    2) 7-cell grade 2
    3) 4-cell stop developing

    Question:

    1) Is this the normal process of implantation or its too early to be worried?
    2) Based on the info on google, today implantation is completed and cells that will eventually become the placenta and fetal cells begin to develop.
    3) What are the chances of having a pregnancy?

    • avatar
      Sandra F.Fertility counselor

      Hello Zara zia,

      judging by the quality of the embryos you had transferred, embryos 1) and 2) are of high quality and therefore likely to implant, whereas embryo No. 3) is highly unlikely to achieve so. Anyhow, your prognosis is good, because embryos 1) and 2) are high quality embryos. However, I’m sorry I cannot give you a precise figure as it depends on other factors such as age, previous cycles (if any), etc.

      Best of luck!

      • usuario
        Zara zia

        Hey Sandra,

        Thank you for your reply.

        Furthermore, I have stress these few days. Had an argument with husband and just knew that sister was diagnosed with cancer.

        1) Is this will effect the implantation?
        2) Today i had mild cramping and bloated same like when period. Is this good or bad symptom.
        3) If I had ET on 6.4.2016 means that today would be my 8 day developing the fetal?
        4) Should I bed rest? But I still walk over dinning and kitchen

        Please help.

  8. usuario
    Heidi Ferraez

    Hi I did 5d blastocyst transfer on May 12. I’m on my 5th day. I did a hpt and got a negative. Is it too soon to test? I don’t have any symptoms or anything 😞

    • avatar
      Sandra F.Fertility counselor

      Dear Heidi,

      Yes, it is still too early to test. Taking into account that it was a blastocyst embryo transfer, at least 10 days are necessary for hCG levels to be detectable with a HPT in case implantation has taken place.

      On the other hand, the fact that you are not having any symptoms or signs does not mean anything. Some women experience them, and others don’t. It does not translate into a failed cycle or anything similar, so do not worry and, most importantly, try not to become obsessed with the final outcome.

      I hope I have been able to help,

      Best of lucks!

  9. usuario
    holly

    Good day!!

    This is my 1st time here, I did a FET 6 day blastocyst, which I had 2 transferred on june 12th. At the time was told that both made it after thawing, one was starting to hatch and the other was hatching. When they transferred, one was fully hatched and the other was almost hatched. My question is that after the transfer I’ve been experiencing pinching pains. Today, which is 4dp6dt, noticed my breasts are light brown color, is this normal? What does this mean? I have a blood test on june 21st. I also been experiencing morning sickness started two days ago.
    Please, just need some advice. Does this mean that I could be pregnant or is it the low dose of meds I am on, which is low dose of estrace and low dose of progesterone?

  10. usuario
    angel

    Hi All,

    Need help from you people,

    I had 3days transfer on 15th of July and have HPT in next few days.

    I have symptoms as below:

    1. From 6th -10th days (after transfer) I have cramps in both legs, sometimes in right, sometimes in left leg (Today 12th day still have cycle-like pain in legs).
    2. Had warm body temperature for some days but no fever
    3. For some days had morning headache for 5-10 mins while waking up.
    4. Had backache for 3-4 days but not painful.
    5. Sometimes have pain in abdomen just for few mins
    6. Have the on and off pain in abdomen for some time

    I don’t know what this means… if you people have any info please let me know.

    Thanks

    • avatar
      Sandra F.Fertility counselor

      Dear angel,

      3 days after embryo transfer is still too early to throw any conclusions on whether these are early pregnancy symptoms or not. This set of symptoms you’ve described are very likely due to the medications you’ve been taking and the transfer itself. My advice is that you continue with your normal lifestyle, not becoming obsessed with noticing pregnancy symptoms. Stress doesn’t help in these situations.

      Best wishes!

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