For a woman, bleeding from the vagina is related with feelings of maturity, cyclical nature of the biological clock of the human body, also with dread of an illness, which may require surgical intervention. It may be the attainment of menarche and the cyclical shedding of blood and tissues from one menstrual cycle, or the shedding due to other physiological changes in the uterine wall, or the pathologies involving the vagina and the uterus. Here, we will discuss two physiological changes that occur in the female reproductive system, where one is related to the non pregnant state and the other to the pregnant state. These two differ in the, physiology involved and the outcome.
Pregnancy spotting or implantation bleeding occurs about 10 to 12 days after the ovulation or fertilization. Usually, the process of fertilization occurs in the fallopian tubes, and the fertilized egg is transported to the body of the uterus. Whilst en route the egg divides to form a couple of cells, which is called the blastocyst. When the blastocyst has arrived in the uterus, the uterine wall or the endometrial lining is rich with blood and nutrients. When it implants to become the embryo, some of the endometrial lining is shed and the blood is released from that site. But it does not immediately leave the uterus and sometimes it becomes denatured on its way out. This is at times associated with abdominal cramps, and a temperature drop. This event usually ends with the pregnancy coming to fruit, and the pregnancy can be confirmed in 4 days with blood beta hCG levels and in 6 days with urine beta hCG levels.
Period or the menstruation is a point in the hormonal, ovarian, and the uterine cycles when the development of a new egg, for possible fertilization and implantation, is marked with vaginal bleeding through the shedding of the previously developed endometrial lining rich with blood and nutrients. This occurs usually 14 days after the process of ovulation. Here, the shedding is initiated with the loss of the reproductive hormone progesterone. Here, the person may complain of abdominal pain along with passage of relatively unaltered blood, and it will cause a drop in the temperature as well.
What is the difference between Pregnancy Spotting and Period?
– Spotting occurs in only about 30% of women, whereas menstrual bleeding occurs in almost all the females with secondary sexual characteristics.
– Spotting occurs in about 10 days after ovulation. But in menstruation it occurs after by about 14 days. This close proximity can be alarming for women who are not in the practice of marking their menstrual bleeds.
– The quantity and the quality of bleeding in spotting is brownish to blackish blood in small quantities, whereas in menstruation it is dark red blood, in larger quantities.
– Spotting is associated with some degree of abdominal cramps, but in menstruation it is not always so.
– Although, both are associated with a temperature drop, the spotting ends up with pregnancy, where the rich endometrium is maintained, but in menstruation the rich endometrium is shed, and the cycle starts again.
Understanding these differences and similarities are important to understand the differing presentations of pregnancy and the normal physiological menstruation, where one needs proper assessment and management, and the other needs no management at all.