Is that a PMS spot or is it from pregnancy hormones? Is that mittelschmerz or implantation bleeding? I asked myself all of these when trying to conceive, that last one most, because I am prone to ovulation pain. I needed to know — how long does it take a pregnancy to implant? Because I had more questions than answers at that point, and knowing when my body actually had a fertilized egg could curb my obsession.
According to Foundations of Maternal-Newborn and Women's Health Nursing, implantation is the point of pregnancy when the zygote attaches itself to the uterine lining and begins the process of building the womb. This is also when the body starts producing the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is the hormone detected by pregnancy tests. It is an essential and fraught time of pregnancy, because this is when things go awry, as in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, which is a pregnancy that occurs anywhere outside of the uterus, according to The Mayo Clinic. An ectopic pregnancy is dangerous because it can lead to infertility and blood loss, and needs to be treated immediately. Typically, they occur when a fertilized egg implants itself in a fallopian tube, and women who become pregnant while they have an IUD implanted are at a higher risk than average of developing an ectopic pregnancy.
However, in an average pregnancy, how long does it take for the pregnancy to implant? The suspense is killing me. I'm not an early test taker, but I do obsessively watch my body for every possible symptom of pregnancy. I'm like the Sherlock Holmes of my menstrual cycle. Only, I'm not solving any murders, unless you count the one that seems to happen in my underwear every 28 days.
In most pregnancies, according to Foundations of Maternal-Newborn and Women's Health Nursing, implantation occurs between days seven and 10, and according to The American Pregnancy Association, this is when implantation bleeding may occur — emphasis on may; not everyone spots. You might also get a headache, have some light cramping, or experience mood swings, so pretty much everything that happens when you PMS. I'm sure it's not confusing and frustrating the heck out of you, right?
The Mayo Clinic noted it's best not to do the guessing game of symptoms, and wait until you actually miss your period before you step firmly into the land of anxiety. (I don't judge your life, Mayo Clinic.) The article suggested waiting until the day of your missed period and then taking a test to eliminate all confusion, but where's the fun in that, Watson? Knowing when your pregnancy actually implants can give you better insight into how you're feeling (you're not feeling morning sickness two days after conception) and hopefully, keep you from testing too early.