How Long After Implantation Bleeding Can I Test?
Spotting or slight bleeding is enough to strike fear into the hearts of anyone TTC, but when you suspect implantation bleeding that fear can quickly turn to excitement. When you’re trying to become pregnant, every little twinge (or wipe) can send your mind racing and you may be eager to take a pregnancy test. If you’ve ever wondered “how long after implantation bleeding can I test” then read on.
Spotting can be a sign of early pregnancy but not a guarantee and knowing what to look for is key. Playing the waiting game is hard, so in this post, we’ll cover all things implantation bleeding; from what implantation bleeding is to what it looks like and how many days after implantation you can (and should) test. Here’s what you need to know about implantation bleeding and testing.
What is implantation bleeding?
When a fertilized egg implants itself into the lining of the uterus, a tiny bit of bleeding or light spotting can occur. This is what’s known as implantation bleeding. As the rapidly dividing cluster of cells attaches itself to the uterine lining and then burrows in for further growth, the process can take several days to complete and may cause slight bleeding. Implantation is a critical step of pregnancy and for most people this happens between 6 to 12 days after ovulation. Sometimes called implantation spotting, it is usually brown or pink in color and always happens about 10 to 14 days after ovulation.
Implantation bleeding vs period
Every person will experience pregnancy differently, and so not all people will experience implantation bleeding. This can make it even more difficult to be able to tell whether you are bleeding from implantation spotting rather than an impending period. Although implantation bleeding is usually pink or brown in color, as opposed to the bright red of period blood, any bleeding in early pregnancy can be a concern so always check in with your doctor if you are worried.
Aside from color, there are a few differences that generally distinguish implantation bleeding from a period. Implantation may be accompanied by other early pregnancy signs like cramps, sore breasts, increased nausea, and insomnia. An implantation bleed will be lighter in color and usually only last a few hours to a few days (while the egg attaches itself) as opposed to a period that will start light and get continually heavier.
Any cramps associated with implantation are usually lighter and milder than the heavier cramping sometimes associated with menstruation. The timing of the cramps can also be an indication that they are from implantation rather than your period. Implantation bleeding happens roughly ten days after ovulation whereas your period would be closer to fourteen days. Of course, these are just averages and the whole process is regulated by hormones, which vary hugely from person to person and cycle to cycle. Precisely tracking your ovulation and fertile window with a fertility tracker such as Mira can help estimate when your implantation occurs.
How long after implantation bleeding can I take a test?
It’s important to wait the appropriate amount of time before testing so you can get the most accurate results for whichever test you choose. Taking a test at the wrong time can lead to inaccurate results. Pregnancy tests detect human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG, often called “the pregnancy hormone”. This hormone is vital to the critical processes necessary for early pregnancy and is only released once your fertilized egg has successfully implanted itself onto the uterus.
The type of test you take will determine how many days after implantation you can test. The infamous two-week wait ensures that if you are pregnant, your body will have produced enough hCG to be detected on a pregnancy test. You should take a pregnancy test no earlier than 12-14 DPO since those results may not be as accurate and can result in a false-negative or positive result from a chemical pregnancy.
Pregnancy tests detect the presence of hCG in urine or blood as the primary way of determining pregnancy. In some cases, your doctor may continue to monitor your hCG levels to assess the health of your pregnancy since there is a predictable pattern in hCG levels.
HCG rise after implantation
Once successful implantation has occurred, hCG will begin to rise rapidly. But how long after implantation does hCG rise is the real question. For the first four weeks of pregnancy, it will typically double every 48 to 72 hours before slowing down to doubling every three to four days and peaking around week 10. It’s not necessary to monitor or check your hCG levels but depending on your individual situation, medical history, and pregnancy risk level, your doctor may wish to continue monitoring it.
People who are considered high risk or may have experienced miscarriages in the past may have their hCG levels regularly monitored. Unfortunately, this type of testing can be both time-consuming and expensive since it requires a blood serum test at your doctor’s office. Your doctor can monitor that your hCG levels are normal for where you’re at in your pregnancy and track the numerical results over time if necessary.
You can use a home pregnancy test to tell if your hCG levels are detectable, but there is currently no at-home testing solution that enables you to know your numeric hCG concentration level. However, Mira does plan to release hCG wands in the future to make this a possibility.
Methods for testing for pregnancy
There are different types of pregnancy tests available from home to blood serum tests. Most people start with a home pregnancy test before seeing their doctor for confirmation.
Home pregnancy test
Home pregnancy tests work by detecting a minimum level of hCG for positive results. Your hCG levels must be higher than this threshold to receive a positive pregnancy test. Your body doesn’t produce enough of this hormone to be detected on these tests until implantation which is why it matters when you take a home test.
Home tests come in the traditional “pee-on-a-stick” variety as well as digital and early detection pregnancy tests. Depending on the type of test you choose, you can start testing as early as 11 days after your date of conception. Some tests claim to pick up enough hCG between 6 and 8 days after fertilization but that is rare and it can take 10 days or more for enough hCG to be detectable in your urine. Home pregnancy tests can be up to 99% accurate if used correctly and taken at the right time.
Blood tests for hCG levels can be taken much sooner than a home pregnancy test since the presence of this hormone shows up sooner in blood. Blood tests can pick up hCG levels as soon as 6 to 8 days after fertilization but would need to be done in a doctor’s office or clinic. A quantitative blood test will tell you the exact amount of hCG in your blood and is very accurate. A qualitative hCG blood test simply measures for the presence of hCG and is about as accurate as a urine test.
False Negative Pregnancy Tests
If your hCG levels are not high enough to be detected yet, you may get a false negative pregnancy test. Not all people will have detectable hCG levels this early in their pregnancy which is why it’s important to wait until at least 14 DPO to take a pregnancy test for the most accurate results.
Reasons for false negatives:
Testing too early
Some people will have enough hCG in their system to read positive on a pregnancy test as early as five days before their expected period. But for most this isn’t the reality and their hCG levels are not high enough to detect yet, leading to a false negative.
Mistakes during home pregnancy testing
The accuracy of home pregnancy tests can vary, especially if you don’t follow the instructions closely. Mistakes such as testing too early, diluted urine, not following waiting times, or simply not choosing a test that is sensitive enough can all contribute to false negatives or inaccurate results. Always read and follow any directions carefully for the most accurate results.
FAQs about implantation bleeding and pregnancy
Have more questions about implantation bleeding and pregnancy? We’ve answered some of the most common ones here.
Can you have implantation bleeding and a negative pregnancy test?
Yes. If you test too early, before levels of hCG have started to rise rapidly, you risk a negative pregnancy test even if you’re actually pregnant. Home pregnancy tests have a limited accuracy and can be notoriously hard to read. Always wait the appropriate amount of time before testing to get the most accurate results.
Can I be pregnant if I didn’t have implantation bleeding?
Only some people will experience implantation bleeding with their pregnancies. In fact, according to the American Pregnancy Association only one third of women experience this phenomenon at all. Experiencing implantation bleeding is perfectly normal but not experiencing it is just as normal and nothing to worry about. You can still be pregnant if you didn’t have implantation bleeding.
How long can implantation bleeding last?
Every person is unique and for some it only lasts a few hours or a day. Unlike a normal period though, the bleeding doesn’t continue and is usually lighter than your normal period.