Implantation Cramps vs. Menstrual Cramps

It’s common for women to wonder whether the lower abdominal cramps that they’re experiencing a few days before their periods is due to implantation cramps.

For a woman trying to conceive, this can be distressing because she’s hoping this might be a symptom of early pregnancy and not an indication that she’ll have her period soon.

So, how can a woman tell whether the lower abdominal cramping she’s experiencing is not an early sign of pregnancy? Is it possible to tell the difference between these two?

In fact, there’s no sure way to tell whether the pain you’re experiencing is a sign of pregnancy or due to your upcoming period. At this stage in pregnancy (assuming you’re pregnant), it is hard to attribute your symptoms to pregnancy or your upcoming menstruation.

To understand what might be happening in your body, we’ll look at important facts about implantation cramps and discuss some misconceptions about implantation bleeding.

What You Should Know about Implantation Cramps

During the early stages of pregnancy, the fertilized egg moves through the Fallopian tube and attaches to the uterine lining. “Implantation bleeding” is thought is occur when the fertilized egg implants itself into the endometrial wall. It can result in spotting or mild bleeding, which doesn’t require medical attention.

Generally, about 30% of women will experience implantation bleeding. In most cases, this is not painful and might be associated with mild cramping only. Since implantation occurs just a few days before your expected period, it is important that you understand the difference between implantation bleeding and your period.

Signs and Symptoms of Implantation Bleeding

Implantation bleeding occurs about 6–12 days after conception, so it is possible that you mistake it for your period. Here are some signs and symptoms that can help you tell the difference between implantation bleeding and a period:

  • Mild cramping is one of the commonest symptoms. Severe cramping, especially when associated with heavy bleeding and or fever, is cause for concern, and you should immediately contact your doctor if you experience these symptoms.
  • Mild bleeding has also been reported. The bleeding is a little different from your regular period. It may be lighter in color than what you see during your period. You may only see a pinkish or brownish discharge when you wipe yourself or notice mild staining of your underwear.
  • Breast tenderness
  • Lower back pain
  • Nausea
  • Mood swings

Still Wondering Whether it is a Pregnancy?

If you’re still not sure whether you’re pregnant, the next best step is to wait three days after the bleeding or spotting stops before taking a pregnancy test. While some early pregnancy tests are available, it is generally advisable to wait until a few days after your missed period before taking a pregnancy test.

Final Words

There’s no clear-cut way to determine whether bleeding or cramping before your period is a sign of pregnancy. You can’t be sure until you perform a pregnancy test. However, you should wait a few days after your expected period before taking the test.


I’m Princila, founder of Check Ovulation and a proud mom of two. I’m an alumna of James Lind Institute. After working in clinical jobs, my passion for writing took its toll, and I ended up switching careers to work in the medical publishing industry. I also have a passion for healthy food, which prompted me to take several online courses in nutrition and health offered by Wageningen University. (I still haven’t completed the courses thanks to my busy mommy schedule!). When I’m not writing/editing scientific and medical manuscripts or taking care of my family, I use my free time to research, learn, and write about healthy living. I have also authored a few books in the self-help niche using the pen names Princila Murrell or PN Murray. Protection Status