Implantation Cramping: What is it? How Long Does it Last? When Should I Worry?

Are you having cramps and wondering if it’s just your period coming soon? Have you been trying to conceive and wondering what implantation feels like?

Implantation cramps are a very healthy part of pregnancy and can often be one of the first signs that a woman is pregnant.

In this post, we will talk about what implantation cramps are, how to tell the difference between menstrual and implantation cramps, what you can do about the pain, and when you should be concerned.

What are Implantation Cramps?

For some women, implantation cramps are one of the very first signs that they have conceived. When conception occurs, an egg is fertilized by the sperm in one of the fallopian tubes. Cells start to divide and multiply rapidly within 24 hours. The fertilized egg remains in the fallopian tube for about 3- 4 days before it starts slowly moving down the tube to the uterus and becomes a blastocyst.

Once the blastocyst reaches the uterus, it implants itself into the uterine lining. This process is known as implantation and can often cause what are called implantation cramps. Implantation cramps are usually mild and can often be accompanied by implantation bleeding, or light spotting (source).

However, not all women will experience implantation cramps and/or bleeding. Some women are lucky enough not to have any cramping during early pregnancy.

How Long Do Implantation Cramps Last For?

There’s a very short time in which the blastocyst can implant into the wall of your uterus, sometimes causing implantation cramps. This process typically happens anywhere from 8-12 days following ovulation.

Implantation cramps are usually minor and typically last for just 1 to 3 days until the implantation process is complete (source).

How to Tell the Difference Between Menstrual and Implantation Cramps

Implantation cramps can happen around the same time as your menstrual cycle, so it can sometimes be difficult to tell if you are having PMS cramps or if you’re experiencing an early sign of pregnancy. However, there are a few differences you’ll be able to spot if you pay close attention to your symptoms.

  • The intensity of cramps: Pay close attention to how heavy your cramps are. Implantation cramps are usually mild, intermittent, and feel like a pulling/tugging sensation. Whereas, menstrual cramps tend to be more intense and gradual for most women.
  • Duration of cramps: Implantation cramps only last for 1-3 days until implantation is complete. If you’re experiencing pains for longer than three days, then they are most likely PMS related cramps.
  • Accompanied implanted bleeding: Implantation cramps are often accompanied with implantation bleeding. If you’re experiencing any spotting and aren’t normally about to have your period, you could be having implantation cramps. Implantation bleeding also tends to be much lighter or even brown in color, whereas PMS bleeding is typically bright red.

Implantation symptoms and early pregnancy symptoms typically occur around the same time, so be sure to watch out for pregnancy signs that are usually not associated with PMS, such as:

Likewise, you could watch out for PMS signs that aren’t typical with early pregnancy, such as backaches and depression. Keeping track of your cycle on the calendar will also help give you a better idea of if you’re dealing with menstrual cramps or possible implantation cramps.

If you are still unsure, you can always take a home pregnancy test for a more definitive answer. Some home pregnancy tests claim to be able to detect a pregnancy as early as 5-7 days after conception. However, waiting until one week after you would typically have your period will give you the most accurate answer.

More in Maternity Health Care: How to Get Enough Belly Support During Pregnancy

How to Get Relief from Implantation Cramps

Implantation cramps can cause some discomfort, but remember that they will only last for about 1-3 days. These cramps should be minor enough that you shouldn’t have to take any pain medication. If you do need some relief from implantation cramps, try a few of these techniques:

  • Try to relax: Stress only causes even more tension and discomfort, so try to relax and sit back and prop your feet up to help the pain pass. You could also engage in some relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing.
  • Take a warm bath: Taking a warm bath will also help you relax and ease the tension. The warm water will relax the ligaments and muscles of the uterus, relieving your cramps.
  • Hot compress: As an alternative to a warm bath, you could place a hot compress on your problem areas.
  • Get a massage: Have your partner give you a nice back massage or look for a masseuse in your area that is trained in prenatal massage.
  • Stay hydrated: Getting plenty of fluids will go a long way in easing and preventing any types of cramps.
  • Change positions: Simply switching positions may do the trick to help ease the pain.
  • Prenatal yoga: Prenatal yoga will help put you in a relaxed state of mind, get your blood flowing, and alleviate your pain. (source)

When to Be Concerned

Cramping during early pregnancy is usually very normal, but in some cases, it can indicate a serious problem.

If you are experiencing any persistent or severe cramping with a positive pregnancy test, be sure to get seen by your OB/GYN or midwife as soon as possible.

It may just be gas or your uterus growing, but it may also be a sign of a miscarriage, placental abruption, ovarian cyst, urinary tract infection, or an ectopic pregnancy (source).

You should also call your doctor if your cramps seem always to be focused on one side of your lower abdomen (regardless if they are severe or not), as this is also a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. If left untreated, an ectopic pregnancy can cause the fallopian tube to tear or burst, resulting in dangerous internal bleeding (source).

Can I Expect Other Types of Cramps Throughout Pregnancy?

In most cases, minor, intermittent cramps are a very normal part of pregnancy.

Your body is going through a lot of changes to accommodate your growing baby, and when your uterus starts expanding, the ligaments and muscles that support it will stretch and may result in some cramping. It may be even more noticeable when you sneeze, cough, or change positions.

During the second trimester, you may start noticing cramps that are caused by round ligament pain. The round ligament is a muscle in your lower abdomen that supports your uterus. When this muscle gets stretched, you may feel a sharp, stabbing pain or a dull ache in your lower abdomen.

Other causes of minor cramping during pregnancy include gas and bloating, constipation, and sexual intercourse (source).


In Summary

Implantation cramps are one of the very first signs of pregnancy for some women and can occur anywhere from 8-12 days following ovulation when the fertilized egg makes it way down the fallopian tube and implants itself into the uterine lining.

Implantation cramps are mild and only last for about 1-3 days. They may also be accompanied by light bleeding or spotting known as implantation bleeding. The pain shouldn’t be too bothersome, but if you need some relief try relaxing, take a warm bath, get a massage, and make sure you’re staying hydrated.

Cramping during early pregnancy is typically nothing to be concerned about. But, if you’re experiencing any severe or persistent cramps or cramps with heavy bleeding, be sure to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible. These are possibly signs of an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, placental abruption, or an ovarian cyst.

Did you experience implantation cramps with any of your pregnancies? Share with us in the comments how you knew they were implantation cramps and how long they lasted for. Feel free to share this post with all of your expecting mama friends.

49 Reader Comments

  1. Kerry

    Yes with most of my pregnancies. I always started around 8 DPO backache cramps until 11 DPO then stopped. I had no spotting with it just persistent backache cramps were minor.

    • Ronnesha Mckinney

      My last period was August 18th or 19th of this year. I had unprotected sex about a week or so later, and I just started mild cramping in my lower left pelvic area. It’s on and off and goes from my middle area to my lower left pelvic area. Can I be pregnant? I had a baby girl August of last year.

      • Jenny Silverstone

        Getting pregnant a week after your period can happen, although it is rare to ovulate that early. I would wait a few days and take a test though to be sure. Have any other mama’s ovulated early and gotten pregnant?

  2. Mandy

    I was supposed to get my depo round February and just today I started cramping spotting pink then brown now it’s gone

  3. mikateko

    I am experiencing the cramps but no bleeding at all..most special in the early morning and late evening. The pain is mild to severe not yet done pregnancy test..not sure if I’m pregnant.

    • Were you pregnant?

  4. My husband and I have been trying to conceive for about 3 weeks. My boobs are so sore I’m nauseous off and on. I’ve taken a few pregnancy tests and all negative. I ended up having blood work done at my Drs, and they said it was negative to try back in a week. I still haven’t had my period, I missed last month, so I can’t remember the exact one from my last, could I be pregnant and it’s just too early? I’m praying I am! The wait is killing me.

  5. I have missed my period for 2 days now, and the cramps started today, not sure yet whether I’m pregnant or not.

  6. I’ve had mild and dull cramping on both sides of my uterus, but it seems to be more on my left side. I ovulated on the 12th; however, when I was pregnant with my first child, I ovulated only a couple days after my period. So I suppose it can vary.

    I started spotting, and three days later I started having symptoms. My breasts are sore, and I’ve been nauseous. I feel like I’m pregnant, but I’m not sure. What do you think?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Those do sound like signs that could point to you being pregnant. Have you taken a test yet? I can’t wait to hear your results!

  7. Anna Ndlovu

    I’ve been having stomach cramps for about two weeks now. But I’m not really sure if they are for pregnancy or implantation.

  8. Alicia lavery

    My period is not due for five days. I have started bleeding and having light cramps that are different from my regular period. Could this be implantation bleeding?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Alicia, it could be implantation bleeding, but it could also be your period coming early. There’s always a chance that you ovulated early. I would wait a few days and take a pregnancy test. Have you had any other symptoms?

      • Rachael

        Hi Jenny, my period is due in ten days. I started spotting dark blood two days ago, but now it is has stopped. I have been experiencing constipation and mild cramping though. Could I be pregnant?

        • Jenny Silverstone

          Hi Rachael, it does sound like it could be implantation bleeding. The only way to know is to take a pregnancy test. I’d try to hold off and take one as close to your period as you can. That way you get the most accurate results. Good luck!

  9. Josephine

    I tested positive and later started having cramps along with light and watery bleeding. I went in for a pelvic scan, and it showed an empty sac. Is this a sign of implantation, or is this an ectopic pregnancy?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      If you had a pelvic exam, they would have been able to see if the sac was in your uterus or fallopian tubes, so I would assume that it is not ectopic. The chances are that you might not be far enough along in your pregnancy to see anything inside of the sac though. What did your doctor say?

  10. Krystle

    My partner and I just started trying for a baby, and it’s almost time for my period. I haven’t, but I have been feeling this weird cramp that I’ve never felt before. It feels like the description of ‘tugging or pulling’ like someone is pulling or scratching from my inner stomach outwards. I’m planning on taking a pregnancy test tomorrow, could this be implantation cramping?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      This does sound like it could be implantation cramping. When is your period due? If it is implantation cramping, it might take several days before the results would show positive on a test. Good luck!

  11. My period is two days late, but I started having cramps three days before it should have started. The pains have continued for more than five days now. Could I be pregnant?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      If your period is late being pregnant could be a possibility. It’s also possible that your period is delayed for another reason. Have you taken a pregnancy test yet?

  12. princess

    I had a positive pregnancy test, but I’ve been cramping for the past two weeks. Sometimes it’s mild, sometimes it’s severe. What does this mean?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hello,
      Cramping during pregnancy can be very normal. It can happen as your uterus starts to expand, it can be round ligament pain in your second trimester, etc. I would not worry unless you are experiencing bleeding or dizziness accompanied with the cramps. Have you spoken to your doctor about the issue?

      Best,
      Jenny

  13. Jennifer Guzman

    We’ve been trying to get pregnant now for a couple months. Today I have milky white discharge and a little cramping, but my period isn’t supposed to come until the 14th. Could I be pregnant?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Jennifer,

      It depends. These could be early signs, but it’s really early to tell. If you just ovulated a day or two ago it would be too early for implantation cramps though. I have, however, experienced cramping while ovulating. So it could also be that.

      I see you posted this a few weeks ago, did you end up pregnant? I would love to hear if you ended up having any other symptoms.

      Best,
      Jenny

  14. Diane

    I am 4 days late for my period. I have light cramps on and off and a backache, but more so when I lay a certain way. I have not spotted at all. I’m waiting until Saturday (a week) to test to see if I am pregnant.

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Diane, I recommend waiting a few days and testing again. Some women can take longer to build up the HCG hormone than others. There are also some tests that are less sensitive than other tests. Which test did you use?

  15. Kelly

    The first day of my last period was 7/09/18. I started to experience dizziness, nauseous and vomiting, cramping on 07/30/18 up until now 08/11/18. Now I’m experiencing hip pain and backache. My period, which was supposed to start 2 days ago, did not come. So I took a pregnancy test but it came out “Not Pregnante” 💔 But the weird thing is that all of my symptoms have subsided except I still feel dizziness and have a backache.

    I’m not so sure if I should wait for one more week to take another test or to see my doctor for a blood test??

    Maybe I did not have enough HCG? My husband and I had been trying for a year now so I’m hoping to get a positive result soon. ❤️

    Maybe it wasn’t “implantation” at all…😐😞😞

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Kelly,

      It could be possible that you are pregnant, it could also be that your period is late for another reason such as stress. I recommend waiting a few days and testing again. If it’s negative and your period hasn’t shown up I would call your doctor. Are experiencing any other symptoms? I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you!

      Best,
      Jenny

  16. claire

    Hi, I’m new to this and I have a question. Can you conceive 13 days before you menstruate and still menstruate? My period normally lasts 4 days but this time it only lasted 2 days. The 1st day was heavy but the 2nd day it went from mild to non-existent. Could that be an indication of pregnancy?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Claire,

      It is possible to have some bleeding during pregnancy. Implantation can have bleeding occur with it and can happen anywhere from 8-12 days after ovulation. This can make it seem like your period has come. It should not, however, be as heavy as a normal period.

      Have you taken a pregnancy test? If you have and it is negative I recommend waiting a few days and testing again. There is, unfortunately, no way to know 100% sure unless your doctor does a blood test or an ultrasound.

      Best,
      Jenny

  17. Antoinette

    I’m about six days late for my period. I’m cramping like crazy and my boobs are sore. I also feel nauseous after I eat. What could this possibly mean?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hello,

      These symptoms could mean you are pregnant, but sometimes you can have symptoms and not be pregnant. There can be months that your period is late due to ovulating late, stress, etc. Have you taken a test yet?

      Best,
      Jenny

  18. ELIZABETH

    I ovulated last Wednesday and had unprotected sex the day before. I started experiencing pulling pains on my left abdomen for 1-2 this past weekend, and now I am having a weird taste and having a hard time sleeping because of strange dreams.

    My period is due in 8 days, am I overreacting or could I be pregnant?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      It is definitely possible to get pregnant by having unprotected sex the day before you ovulate. Have you taken a test yet? I hope you get the results that you want.

  19. Charlene Brown

    Hello, I’ve had cramping and backache for almost two days accompanied by a creamy discharge. I woke up today, and it was gone, and my period is due in 9 days. Did I experience implantation cramping?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      It could have been implantation cramping, but there is no real way to know, unfortunately. I would wait until closer to your period and take a test. Are you experiencing any other symptoms?

  20. Sandra

    I ovulated on the 13th of August, which was ten days ago. I have been feeling nauseous, dizzy, and tired. Could I be pregnant?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      These could all be signs of pregnancy, but it is still very early for symptoms to appear. Have you taken an early pregnancy test? I recommend taking an over the counter pregnancy test; if it is negative, you can wait a few days and test again. Good luck!

  21. Nica

    I have been cramping, having sinus issues, sore breasts, and some twinges. I feel like I’m having more discharge as well and my period is due to come in about four days. I took a test today and the results were negative. What could this be?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Don’t count yourself out yet. Four days before your period is due is still pretty early to get accurate results. I recommend waiting a few days and testing again. It might just be that yu do not have enough HCG built up in your body for the test to detect it yet. What kind of test did you take?

  22. Agape Eunice

    I have been cramping and have had a backache for the past four days, yet my period should not start for another week. Could I be pregnant?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      These both could be signs of pregnancy, but there is no way to really know unless you take a test. It could be a little early to test now, so if you get a negative I recommend testing again in a few days.

  23. Hi, my partner and I are undergoing fertility treatments. Because of the hormones, the nurse said it is a definite that my period will come between 12 and 14 days after insemination if I am not pregnant. Today is day ten and what I thought was my period arrived this morning. I had mild cramping and pale pink discharge when I wiped but nothing on the pad. The bleeding has not increased over the course of the day.

    The cramps seem to alternate from one side to the other and have been pretty consistent. I spoke to the fertility nurse today, and she has told me to keep an eye on the bleeding as she thinks it might be implantation as my period shouldn’t have arrived yet. My Partner and I have been trying for 18 months, so we have our fingers crossed for a BFP!!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Nat,

      I’m keeping my fingers (and toes!) cross that this is implantation bleeding. Good luck!

  24. Kelly

    I still have two weeks before my next cycle. However, over the last week, I have started feeling nauseous and cramping on one side of my lower abdomen. It’s a constant pain that doesn’t seem to go away. Is this a normal sign of pregnancy?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Both nausea and cramping can be signs of pregnancy, but it would be pretty rare to be pregnant already when your period is still two weeks away. Still, if you feel you might be pregnant I recommend taking a test. Implantation cramping should only last 1-3 days though, so if you are cramping for longer than that you might want to consider talking to your doctor.

  25. Ajwa

    My husband & I have been actively trying to get pregnant for over a year now. We’ve had so many ups and downs, I’ve started to get worried. My period is three days late now. I’ve had some cramping, but no bleeding and my breast have been sore for about two weeks now. Could I be pregnant?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hello, if your period is late and you are experiencing symptoms you could be pregnant. Have you taken a test yet? I hope you get positive results, good luck!

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