Implantation cramps refer to sensations of pain felt in some women during implantation. Whilst this is not typical in the majority of women, implantation cramps can be bothering enough to be easily confused with premenstrual cramps.
An Overview Of Conception
When sperms are released during ejaculation, they travel from the vagina through the cervix, womb and finally get to the fallopian tube to fertilize a released egg. Nature ensures that the healthiest sperm fertilizes the egg in order to produce a healthy baby. If an egg is available, it fuses with one of the sperms, in what is called fertilization, and the resulting zygote moves and attaches itself to the Uterus lining (walls of the womb). This process of attachment is called implantation.
How Is Implantation Important?
When the zygote gets into the womb, at which time it is called the embryo, its firm appropriate attachment to the wall provides support through the weeks of growth which lie ahead of it. This is crucial for the baby’s survival as it will be depending on this to derive nutrients and oxygen from the mother. In this regard, implantation is a more realistic milestone to mark the beginning of the growth of the new baby. Notwithstanding, for ease of monitoring, pregnancy is taken to start at the last menstruation before pregnancy is confirmed.
What Time Does Implantation Occur?
Whilst this varies with every woman, counting from the time of fertilization, an average of 7-11 days is the usual expectation. Estrogen levels gets lowered and uterine wall prepares to accept implantation facilitated by hormone progesterone. After successful implantation, body will start making parts of placenta and within 2 weeks enough hCG hormone gets released by placenta and trigger positive pregnancy test result.
How Do Implantation Cramps Feel Like?
Typically, implantation cramps are very similar to the usual cramps women may feel immediately before menstruation. However, they may be milder, dull and intermittent, and not last for more than three days if the embryo attaches to the right place in the womb. However, when the baby attaches at the wrong place, outside the womb, in what is called ectopic pregnancy, the pain can be very sharp and spread to other parts of the abdomen. If pain is severe, it is advisable to report to a doctor. Ectopic pregnancy can be life threatening.
How Different Is Implantation Cramps From Menstrual Cramps?
Menstrual cramps occur when the lining of the womb is shed off when fertilization doesn’t occur. The body prepares the womb for a baby prior to fertilization. When fertilization doesn’t occur after ovulation, the new lining that was prepared to hold the baby must be shed. The body achieves shedding by causing a contraction of the womb’s walls and this is what causes the cramps.
In this regard, the timing may provide clues to differentiate between menstrual cramps and implantation cramps. Menstrual cramps typically occur not earlier than 2 days before menstruation. This leaves any cramps, 3-7 days before the estimated onset of menstruation, to a high probability of association with implantation.
What Other Symptoms May Be Associated With Implantation Cramps?
Implantation may present symptoms that occur with premenstrual syndrome. These may include:
- Breast enlargement and tenderness
- Mood Swings – As with premenstrual syndrome, the period of implantation may be characterized by mood fluctuations
- Bloating – Hormonal surges may also lead to fullness in the tummy.
- Altered Appetites and Cravings – For some women these symptoms start out right at implantation and may run through the entire pregnancy period.
Does Bleeding Occur With Implantation Cramps?
Some women may experience blood flow or spots with implantation cramps. This furthers the difficulty in differentiating it from menstrual cramps but there are a couple of differences to look out for.
- Clotting – whilst it is normal to observe clots in blood from normal menstrual flow, blood associated with implantation typically doesn’t present with clots.
- Flow Intensity – implantation bleeding is usually spotty or very minimal.
- Duration – unlike menstrual bleeding that may last well beyond three days, implantation cramps don’t go beyond three days and may be on and off.
- Color – whilst this might be difficult for some people to assess, any coloration different from the usual with previous menstrual flows should be a good hint especially if it is in conjunction with the above signs.
Why Do Implantation Cramps Occur?
As stated earlier, implantation cramps do not occur with every pregnancy. When they do occur, they are believed to be caused by the process which the embryo uses to attach to the wall of the womb. For simplicity, it is believed that this process involves a burrowing in the womb’s wall and this causes the cramping.
Should I Be Worried About Implantation Cramps?
Implantation cramps are not serious, even though they can be distressing. If the baby attaches itself at the right place in the womb, the pains usually go away on their own without the need for treatment. There should be concern, however, if the pain is unbearable and extends beyond the usual three days.
Can Implantation Cramps Be Prevented?
Since this comes as a natural part of pregnancy, prevention is less likely an option. It shouldn’t be a concern to find ways to prevent it because it is not meant to harm the pregnancy. It is rather a good sign and usually the earliest, that pregnancy has occurred.
Can Implantation Cramps Be Treated?
Implantation cramps typically go away without treatment. It is often unnecessary to burden the body with drugs unless there are very good reasons observed by a doctor. If the pain is unbearable, a couple of home remedies like those listed below can be helpful. It is best to avoid treatment as certain drugs like aspirin have been found to lead to miscarriages in some women.
What Can Be Done To Ease The Pain?
These are some home remedies that can ease the pain if it is stressing:
- Relaxation – Whilst the pain may be discomforting enough to disrupt relaxation, using proven methods to bring relaxation can relieve the pain. Different relaxation techniques work for different people and these may include meditation, listening to music among others. It is best for individuals to choose the technique that works for them.
- Hot Compressing – Appropriate application of heat works well at easing pain for some people. Placing a warm towel or hot water bottle at the painful abdominal area, whilst making sure it doesn’t burn the skin, is a simple way to get relief.
- Hot Bath – Just like heat compressing, having a hot bath may calm the nerves and give pain relief.
When To Call The Doctor?
It is advisable to call the doctor if any of these is noticed
- Pain is severe or sharp and spreads to other areas of the abdomen
- Pain lasts more than three days
- Pain is accompanied with unusual symptoms. It is advisable to call a doctor if there are any symptoms that feel strange.