It is quite natural for a person to get confused between the normal PMS cramps and the cramps experienced during implantation. There are a lot of essential differences between the two, which we will discuss in detail in this article. Women need to know about the symptoms to get a brief idea of testing their pregnancy.
Usually, the situation can make a lot of women confused. Suppose that you are experiencing a mild cramp in the lower part of your abdomen just before a few days from when your period starts. If no complications are present, the confusion may not be there. However, for the women who have been recently involved in unprotected sexual activity, may wonder whether they are pregnant or not. This is because of the confusion, whether they are experiencing implantation symptoms or PMS steps up. Before we go into the details, let us know about the necessary information first.
PMS Cramps vs. Implantation Cramps
Implantation Cramps – What are they?
The process of implantation is where the attachment of the released fertilized egg is done with the lining of the uterus. This process is necessary to provide the growth of the fertilized egg successfully. However, when this attachment occurs, the lining of the uterus gets shredded up to a point. This results in a painful sensation which can come in the form of cramps, as well as bleeding. The implantation cramps are, however, not experienced by many women. As per statistics, a total of 30% of women are known to experience implantation cramps. Cases have also been found where women have directly experienced implantation bleeding without feeling any cramps.
Implantation Cramps – When do they occur?
As already stated, not every woman has to face the cramps during the time of implantation. However, for the women who do face it, the regular occurrence time of implantation cramps is mainly after two weeks from the ovulation date. This means that a woman can experience the implantation cramps approximately three to seven days before the start of the regular period. Since the timing is very near to the periods, it is only natural that women get confused between the implantation cramps and the period cramps.
Implantation Cramps – How do they feel?
In terms of experience, women who have undergone it have said they honestly could not find any significant differences in how the pain felt in periods and implantation. Some women have reported that the implantation cramps are of slightly less intensity. Additionally, few women have also said that they have felt sensations such as prickling, tingling, or pulling during implantation cramps.
Implantation Cramps – Where can it be felt?
In the majority of the cases, the implantation cramps are felt in the lower part of the abdomen. Usually, it happens on only one side at a time and goes on alternating for a few cycles. However, cramps on both sides can also occur, and it is nothing to worry about. Apart from the lower abdominal part, implantation cramps can also be felt in the lower back in some cases.
Implantation Cramps – How long do they last?
One of the most common questions asked by patients is for how long does implantation cramps last? Well, the answer depends on person to person. This means that individual women have experienced different durations of the implantation cramps. For some women, it lasted for only a couple of minutes. It started with one sharp pain and then vanished quickly. For others, it may have continued for a few days, with cramps of mild intensity coming and going in that period.
Implantation Cramps – What to do when you have them?
It is an important point to note that cramps which are not followed by a period are most likely due to the process of implantation. At that point, the hormonal levels required to detect pregnancy may not be very high. Therefore, home pregnancy tests may fail at that particular point.
However, if you are facing cramps in the abdominal and pelvic area, which are of higher intensity, you can visit a doctor to get an expert opinion. Also, you will be able to know your exact condition. Complicated cases like ectopic pregnancy may occur. In this particular case, the implantation takes place in one of the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus. If left unchecked, the fallopian tube can burst to cause a loss of fertility of the woman. Hence, such situations require immediate attention and medical treatment. Additionally, cases involving excessive vaginal bleeding may also occur, which can require proper treatment. Therefore, in any unusual circumstances, you should visit a doctor immediately to know about your current condition.
PMS Cramps and Implantation Cramps – Points of Difference
Now, such pains or cramps can also be experienced due to ovulation. Due to so many causes, it may turn out to be very confusing for a woman to be able to identify the causes of the cramps. Whether the cramps are indeed due to implantation, ovulation, or they are due to periods; no one can ever say for sure. However, the timings are important to note. As mentioned, the implantation cramps mainly occur a week before the scheduled periods. The period cramps, on the other hand, usually start one to two days before the period occurs. With the start of the period, the period cramps go away as well. This is a very reasonable thing to happen, and nothing is wrong with your body if you feel such cramps.
The pains related to the implantation do feel much less intense when compared to the period cramps. As for implantation cramps, it will not be followed by a period. However, on severe and prolonged pain experiences, it is recommended to go and visit a doctor. Abnormal cases like ectopic pregnancy, as mentioned before, can be dangerous and needs to be treated as fast as possible.
Ovulation is also known as mittelschmerz, a German term that literally translates to middle pain. This also occurs at a time of one to two weeks before the period starts. Many women experience pain for the ovulation pain as well. Therefore, it makes the situation even more complex to identify the exact reason for the pain. It can be due to implantation, it can be due to ovulation, and it can be due to the period as well.
Here also, there is no particular way to predict accurately whether the cause of the pain is implantation or ovulation. However, some specific symptoms and signs can help you to get an idea about the cause of your cramps. When the pain is caused due to ovulation, women generally experience pain in only one side of their lower abdomen. The pain is relatively sharp and can go away within hours. As for implantation, how long does implantation cramps last? The pain can last for a period of 48 hours to 72 hours. This is one of the significant differences between the pain experienced by implantation and ovulation.
Obviously, there can be many different reasons for the cramps as well. Even with the exact duration, you can get ovulation cramps or pre-menstrual cramps as well, and it is nothing abnormal.
In any case, few major identification points can be applied to identify between PMS cramps and the implantation cramps. Even though the results are not a hundred percent accurate, these points can still provide a lead and help you get an idea if you are confused. Some of the essential aspects of difference are provided below.
1. Cramps Occurring Before Period – Implantation Cramps
As already mentioned before, the occurrence of the implantation cramps is generally a few days before the period is scheduled to come. The pain is usually felt due to the attaching process of the fertilized egg in the lining of the uterus. Most of the women have experienced the implantation cramps just a week before or a few days before the monthly period cycle was about to start. So, if you are trying to be pregnant and get sudden cramps roughly before a week of the starting of the period, you may be expecting good news!
2. Unusual spotting – Implantation Bleeding
Women may experience spots of a light pink color which can change up to rusty brown or deep brown while their period is going on. In the majority of cases, the occurrence of spots due to bleeding from the vagina after one week from the ovulation period means implantation. The cause of the bleeding related to implantation is due to the attachment of the fertilized egg with the lining of the uterus. This process shreds the uterus lining to some extent, which contains some of the blood vessels which are present to support the growth of the fertilized embryo. This shredding triggers the bleeding. Generally, the bleeding nature in such cases is very light. This light bleeding is the reason for spotting.
In between the periods and the menstrual cycle, the occurrence of cramps is quite common. The appearance of the spotting in between the periods is even more frequent than the cramps. This is the sole reason why it can get very confusing for women to identify the cause for the spots as well. In many cases, women have reported that they have received spots very close to their menstrual periods. Therefore, it is quite reasonable that many women will assume that the spots are simply due to their upcoming periods. In the majority of cases, the implantation spotting occurs heavily. The duration of the implantation bleedings is mainly between one and three days.
Apart from this, there are also many other signs which can help to identify the implantation bleeding from the regular period bleeding. However, in an overview, if you are getting unusual spotting from your regular habits, chances are that you have conceived and the spotting is due to implantation bleeding.
3. Areola or Nipples become dark
If a woman has conceived, the levels of progesterone and estrogen rise significantly in the body. This affects the pigmentation of the area covering the breast directly. As a result, the pigmentation around the areola increases. Hence, the nipples become much darker than before. This is one of the key indicators which can show whether a woman has conceived or not. In the case of the period cramps, the nipples or the areola are not as dark because in that case, enough progesterone and estrogen are not secreted.
Women can also go through an imbalance of hormones in their bodies. This, in turn, can also cause a change in the areola color. The nipples can suddenly get darker and then can suddenly become light again. This is not related to pregnancy in any way. However, if your hormonal balance is steady, and then your nipples suddenly turn dark before the period, the chances are that you are pregnant.
4. Breasts Becoming Sore or Tender
One of the identification points of pregnancy is how sensitive your breasts are. Now, some women have naturally sensitive nipples than others. Even then, each woman knows her body perfectly. Therefore, you will be able to understand when your breasts have become more sensitive. If you have conceived, breasts can go sore just within two weeks. After the implantation is successful, the HCG level in the body starts to rise. This is important for supporting pregnancy.
With such a sudden increase in the amount of HCG in the body, your breasts can suddenly turn full or become tender than before. It may be slightly confusing with the breast pain which many women feel during their period, but the level of sensitivity is much higher in the pregnancy case. You will be able to feel how sensitive your breasts have suddenly become. If you touch or pinch your nipples even slightly, and get sudden pangs of pain or pleasure, the chances are that you have conceived.
5. Experiencing Morning Sickness or Nausea
When a woman is pregnant, the level of the HCG hormone increases significantly in the body. Also, the levels of estrogen rise at an equally rapid rate as well. This sudden increase in the hormonal levels decreases the rate of metabolism. As a result, a woman may feel less hungry as her stomach takes more time to clear its contents. This contributes to the uneasy feeling, and the woman experiences nausea.
Additionally, the sense of smell can get very strong when a woman is pregnant. In this situation, a woman can get irritated even with the slightest introduction of a new fragrance. For a lot of women, these symptoms arrive pretty late. For others, it can come very early as well. Therefore, you can count on being pregnant if you are suddenly feeling nauseated before the arrival of your scheduled period.
6. Having Dysgeusia or Retaining a Metallic Taste
Not only does the sense of smell get affected during pregnancy, but the sense of taste also gets adversely affected as well. With the rapid rise in the levels of estrogen in the body, women generally face a change in their taste senses. A metallic, rusty and a bitter taste always lingers in the mouth, no matter what you do. This is one of the weirdest phenomenons that a woman has to face during her pregnancy, and is known as Dysgeusia or metal mouth. Even though this change is usually observed close to the upcoming period, in some cases it has occurred very early as well.
7. Getting Sudden Cravings or Aversions towards Food
A conceiving woman can have sudden repulsion towards certain foods and dishes. Since taste gets so severely affected by a pregnant woman, it is not a surprise. While being pregnant, the taste buds of a woman get an inevitable shift. This results in the change of taste for various types of foods and drinks. As a result, the food which you may have never liked can seem tolerable to you. On the other hand, your favorite dish may suddenly be your most hated dish. The most change of taste that a pregnant woman feels is generally towards fruits and alcohol. The addiction to cigarettes may suddenly increase or decrease. All of these signs confirm that a woman is indeed pregnant.
8. Getting Tired More Easily
The feeling of fatigue may affect a pregnant woman significantly. However, the periods can also result in certain tiring feeling because of the cramps and the bleeding. Even then, the fatigue level between periods and pregnancy is very different. You will understand when you are tired and need a little bit of rest. While you are pregnant, the tiring level will be just too high for you to even recover after resting. You will feel completely exhausted, and will not be able to work as per usual pace or efficiency at all. This is because the levels of progesterone increase a lot while you are pregnant, which in turn makes you extremely sleepy.
Additionally, blood production increases in your body at this stage and calorie consumption is also much higher than usual. Together, these factors work and drain your energy completely. You can feel incredibly sick, tired, or weak to even move around generally in the house. Therefore, if you are expecting to be pregnant after getting some implantation cramps, you can confirm it once you feel excessive fatigue over the days suddenly.
9. Getting Too Many Headaches all of a Sudden
With the increase in blood production in the body, along with the rise of hormones, can affect the body of women by a lot. The sudden production of blood increases the blood rush to the head. This, in turn, can cause sudden headaches. The headaches can be of all possible intensities. The blood pressure of a woman also falls in these conditions, which combines with the headache and gives rise to migraines. This can produce headaches of high intensity which can turn unbearable in some cases. Visiting a doctor or taking prescribed medications is highly recommended in such cases. If the pain is not that intense, you can do home treatments as well. These include sleeping, drinking more water, and performing fun activities.
10. Getting Frequent Urges of Urination
If you are pregnant, your body will produce blood in increased amounts. This blood is circulated throughout your organs, including the kidneys. As a result, the amount of liquid processed by the kidneys increases suddenly. Hence, the bladder ends up turning full frequently. This triggers the urination urge. So, the chances are that you are pregnant if you are urinating more frequently with cramps before your period.
11. Drop in the Basal Body Temperature
The drop in the basal temperature is commonly known as the implantation dip experienced by women during pregnancy. During each menstrual cycle, the BBT or basal body temperature is recorded by many women. In cases of the period, the BBT drops as well. However, there is one significant difference in the drop of BBT in cases of pregnancy and periods. In periods, the decline in BBT is stable, and it lasts until the period gets over with. As for pregnancy, the fall in the BBT is very sharp and usually lasts for only 24 hours, before rising back up again. This is not a very significant factor, though, as most women do not keep records or experience the dip at all.
Given below is a comparison of the symptoms of PMS and Pregnancy. Some of these are unique, and the other symptoms are present in both of the conditions.
Symptoms of PMS
- Mood swings
Symptoms of Pregnancy
- Spotting before period
- Darkened nipples
- Sensitive breasts
- Change in appetite
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Increased urination
Symptoms Common to Both
- Mood Swings
- Cramps in the lower abdomen
- Back pain
- Low sex drive
Even after getting all of these symptoms, you cannot say for sure whether the cramps are due to periods, or due to pregnancy. To get accurate results, you need to perform a pregnancy test that can assert your current condition as well.