Written by: Dr. Amy Beckley, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test — the first and only FDA-cleared test to confirm successful ovulation at home.
Written on: 10/25/21
We want to dive into implantation cramps, as the implantation window is critical for getting pregnant.
We often experience many changes throughout our cycle. From mood swings to cramps and breast tenderness, we really do go through it all!
Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell what exactly causes these changes. Take cramps, for example: some of us experience cramps with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), during ovulation, or even during implantation.
Today, we want to dive into implantation cramps, as the implantation window is critical for getting pregnant. Here’s what you should know about implantation cramps!
What is implantation and when does it occur?
Fertilization and conception only comprise a piece of the pregnancy puzzle. After sperm meets egg and fertilization occurs, the newly formed embryo starts its journey down the fallopian tubes until it reaches the uterus, about 3 to 5 days later.
From there, the embryo needs to find a comfortable place to implant into the uterine lining, where it will grow and thrive throughout the duration of the pregnancy. To do this, the uterine lining must be receptive to the embryo.
The implantation window (also called the receptivity window) lasts 4 days, usually from 7 to 10 days past peak fertility, with the most common implantation days being days 8 and 9 past peak fertility. Only during these 4 days each cycle can the embryo attach to the receptive uterine lining.
Progesterone production supports the process of implantation, since progesterone makes the uterine lining “sticky” enough to allow an embryo to comfortably implant into the uterine lining. Without sufficient progesterone production during the 4-day implantation window, it can be more difficult for successful implantation to occur.
What are common symptoms of implantation?
If you track your cycle consistently, you may be in tune with your cycle and can detect any changes that may occur. Symptoms of implantation, however, can be controversial since many experts claim implantation doesn’t cause any symptoms, while many people claim they experience certain symptoms before getting a positive pregnancy test.
While it remains unclear if these symptoms are caused exclusively by implantation or by hormonal changes during the luteal phase, here are some common signs of pregnancy to look out for:
- Cramps may be caused by hormonal changes or by the uterus starting to stretch.
- Light spotting, also called implantation spotting, occurs in 25% of pregnancies around the date of expected implantation. It’s typically light, only lasts a few days, and often goes unnoticed.
- Sore breasts are common in early pregnancy and also before the period is due. Changes in hormones may cause fullness, heaviness, or tenderness of breasts.
- Bloating is more a premenstrual symptom, but elevated progesterone levels may make you feel more full.
- Fatigue and mood swings may also be a sign of conception. Again, changes in hormones may make you feel more sensitive, emotional, or tired.
An increase in progesterone levels causes many of the above symptoms and, once implantation occurs, the rise in hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin, the hormone released only during pregnancy) can add to these symptoms.
This being said, symptoms are only predictive of pregnancy — rather than diagnostic — meaning they may signal pregnancy, but you can only confirm pregnancy via a blood or urine hCG test. Also note it’s totally possible to conceive without any symptoms at all; many pregnancies manifest themselves with only a missed period.
Symptoms are only predictive of pregnancy — rather than diagnostic — meaning they may signal pregnancy, but you can only confirm pregnancy via a blood or urine hCG test.
What should I know about implantation cramps?
To date, there is no medical literature confirming a connection between implantation and cramping.
Yet many of us may notice an abdominal tenderness during the mid-luteal phase, right around the time the embryo is likely to implant. This tenderness may be accompanied by mild lower back pains, which may resemble period symptoms.
As we mentioned, these symptoms may be caused by changes in hormones as implantation occurs, but they also could be caused by the change in hormones occurring at the end of every luteal phase before your period.
One thing is for sure: implantation cramps may cause discomfort but they should not be painful. If you experience serious pain anytime during your cycle, we recommend getting in touch with your healthcare provider and making sure nothing serious is going on.
Severe pain after ovulation may be caused by an ectopic pregnancy which, when gone undetected, can be dangerous.
Other causes of pelvic pain include but are not limited to:
- Ovarian cysts
- Ovarian torsion
- Uterine tract infection
- Kidney infections or kidney stones
How can I support implantation?
Unfortunately, about 15-20% of all pregnancies end up in miscarriage. Of these, 75% are due to failure of implantation.
In order to achieve successful implantation, there needs to be a perfect match between the quality of the embryo and the receptivity of the uterine lining. And while we can’t do much to improve embryo quality, we can make sure our uterine lining is prepared to become a perfect environment for the embryo to implant.
Studies show that women who have high PdG (urine marker of progesterone) levels during the implantation window, have a 92% chance at a successful pregnancy compared to those with low levels, who only had a 19% chance of successful pregnancy.
You can measure PdG levels non-invasively over the entire implantation window with Proov Confirm PdG tests — the first and only FDA cleared PdG test to confirm successful ovulation at home. Our patented PdG testing protocol allows you to measure levels on days 7, 8, 9, and 10 past peak fertility.
You can measure PdG levels non-invasively over the entire implantation window with Proov Confirm PdG tests.
If your test results show low PdG, there are plenty of ways to naturally raise PdG levels and support implantation.
While implantation cramps may or may not be a sign of conception, better understanding potential symptoms can help you better understand your cycle.