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There’s no escaping it — pregnancy is a bizarre and gruesome experience from start to finish. About 10 to 14 days after conception, a microscopic fertilized egg bebops down into your uterus and embeds itself in the uterine lining. Some women experience a little bit of bleeding when the egg is implanted in that thick, nutrient-rich lining.

How long does implantation bleeding last?

Because implantation bleeding happens around the same time a woman’s period is due, she may not realize she’s pregnant at first. Unlike a regular period, implantation bleeding is very light and brief — just a little spotting that lasts a few hours to a few days.

Since there are several reasons a period could be spotty, look for these clues you might have an embryo in the oven.

While you’ll typically lose 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during your period, spotting is only a little bit of blood you may notice in your underwear or when you wipe.

Blood can range in color depending on how long it takes to leave your body: Brownish blood has hung out in your body longer, while bright red blood has made a quick exit. Spotting can also be orange or pink if it’s mixed with other discharge.

Implantation bleeding isn’t a sign of a problem with your pregnancy, and it doesn’t require treatment. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 15 to 25 percent of women experience bleeding during the first trimester.

Other reasons you may have spotting or bleeding in early pregnancy:

If you still aren’t sure whether the spotting is implantation bleeding or a weird period, look for these other signs of early pregnancy:

  • cramping
  • tender, swollen breasts
  • nausea or upset stomach, with or without vomiting
  • moodiness
  • extreme fatigue
  • new food cravings and aversions
  • constipation
  • frequent urination
  • headache
  • heartburn
  • higher basal body temperature
  • backache
  • weight changes

Because Mother Nature is infuriating, many early pregnancy symptoms feel just like premenstrual symptoms. And one person’s early pregnancy might feel like another person’s run-of-the-mill PMS. Ugh. Luckily, you don’t have to wait 9 months for answers.

Your gut says something’s up, but should you hit the drugstore for some magic sticks to pee on?

At-home pregnancy tests are nearly 99 percent accurate if timed right and used correctly. They work by testing for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which your body produces only when you’re pregnant. The hormone doubles every few days after implantation and reaches detectable levels 12 to 15 days after ovulation.

The best time to take a home pregnancy test is after the day you expected your period to start. Take the test the first time you pee in the morning, because that’s when hCG will be the most concentrated.

If the test is negative but you still feel pregnant, wait a few days and test again. The expected timing of all these processes is based on averages and educated guesses. Your experience and hormone levels may vary.

So you’re possibly pregnant. It’s time to get things checked out. A doctor can confirm your pregnancy with a blood test or another urine test. They’ll do all the algebra and soothsaying to determine how long you’ve been pregnant, how much longer you’ll be pregnant, and what that little fetus should be up to at this stage.

Bleeding in early pregnancy isn’t usually a problem, but it’s always a good idea to mention it to your obstetrician and keep them informed of any new symptoms.

Abnormal bleeding and changes in your period may indicate other conditions that need medical treatment. If your period symptoms vary from what’s normal for you, check in with the doc.

Up to 25 percent of pregnant women experience bleeding in the first trimester. A day or two of spotting around the time of an expected period could be implantation bleeding. This happens when a fertilized egg attaches to your uterine wall, and it isn’t harmful.

If you didn’t get a full period when you expected it and you have other pregnancy symptoms, take a home pregnancy test or check in with your doctor for answers.