Plan B Spotting vs Implantation Bleeding: Know Your Facts

You took a morning after pill and phew! went back to your regular life. But suddenly you see unexpected spotting on your favorite jeans!

Trust me we know how scary that can be.

Are you finding yourself worrying and going back and forth between Plan B spotting vs implantation bleeding?

Experiencing bleeding after Plan B is quite common. It can be a sign of an early period or spotting if it happens within two or three days of taking the pill. But there’s a chance it is implantation bleeding if the bleeding starts after 10-14 days after your ovulation day from the latest menstrual cycle.

In both Plan B spotting and implantation bleeding, the outcome is the same. That is, you experience bleeding through your vagina.

Did that relieve your stress a little bit? Don’t lose sleep on it! Because we have gathered everything you need to know about this problem you are facing. So fasten your seatbelts and get on board!

Experiencing Vaginal Bleeding – What to Do?

If you feel yourself bleeding through your vagina, the first thing to do would be to check your period calendar. Look into fact if you are due for your next menstrual cycle or not.

If your period is due within a few days or the date has passed recently, there is a chance it is just your regular period.

vaginal-bleeding

In that case, you do not need to worry. As your unfertilized ovum already got expelled out, you do not need Plan B for stopping the pregnancy.

And it is not implantation bleeding either, because you are not pregnant.

Plan B Spotting Vs Implantation Bleeding – Are they the same?

Now let’s say you ruled out every possibility of a regular period. So if it is not the regular period blood, it might mean something else entirely.

In both Plan B spotting and implantation bleeding, the outcome is the same. That is, you experience bleeding through your vagina. But are the underlying causes the same?

plan-b-spotting-vs-implantation-bleeding

For obvious reasons, Plan B spotting and implantation bleeding are very far apart in the medical spectrum. Let me tell you how to tell them apart. 

Plan B Spotting

Plan B spotting is one of the most frequent causes of unusual vaginal bleeding. Here’s what you need to know about it.

What is Plan B?

For a few of us who don’t know, Plan B is the most commonly available emergency contraceptive pill in the market. It’s also known as the morning after pill.

And as the name suggests, you take it within 72 hours of unprotected sex to avoid unwanted pregnancy.

How Does It Work?

Plan B basically contains a synthetic form of the hormone Progesterone (Levonorgestrel). It interferes with your regular menstrual cycle by delaying ovulation or the release of the egg. 

So the release of the ovum in due time gets blocked. And as a result the sperm inside cannot fertilize your ovum and you don’t get pregnant. 

Why Bleeding Occurs After Taking Plan B?

We have learned that Plan B contains a synthetic hormone, right? This Levonorgestrel has a certain effect on the inner wall of your uterus.

When the level of this hormone in your blood rises, it can cause your uterus to shed its inner lining. These bits then come out of your vagina carrying some blood with it. This is what causes the post plan B spotting or bleeding.

For Plan B spotting, it will be a reddish brown color. And for implantation bleeding, the discharge color is pinkish red. You might see some whitish mucus with it as well. 

Implantation Bleeding

In fewer cases, we see bleeding happens after implantation of the fertilized ovum in your uterus. So what exactly does that mean?

What Is Implantation Bleeding?

In some pregnancies, slight bleeding might be seen during the implantation phase. Although uncommon, it is not unusual.

Why It Happens?

Implantation bleeding is nothing to be scared of. It is just a part of your normal physiology if you are among the rare percentage who actually experience this.

We know how a sperm and an ovum form an embryo together. The embryo then attaches itself to the inner wall of your uterus. 

In this attachment process bits of your uterus wall are displaced. These extra bits are then expelled through the vagina as a form of slight bleeding. 

Plan B Spotting Vs Implantation Bleeding – A detailed Overview

Now that we know what exactly Plan B spotting and implantation bleeding are, let’s move on to the more important part. If you experience an untimely and unusual vaginal bleeding, how can you know what caused this?

Well, we got you covered. You need to look for certain factors to be sure of the cause. But worry not, because we have come up with a factor-by-factor comparison between a Plan B spotting and implantation bleeding. 

Incidence Frequency

Plan B spotting/bleeding is a more common side effect. Almost everyone who takes Plan B experiences spotting.

On the other hand, implantation bleeding is pretty rare. 25% of total pregnant women all around the world face this incident.

If you have taken Plan B, the spotting might mean it has worked so you are not pregnant. But implantation bleeding always means that you are already pregnant after your conception. And your embryo has latched onto you safely.

So if you have taken a Plan B previously, the bleeding is most likely from the pill itself.

Color of The Blood

Now this one is a very important factor. Even though it might feel a bit icky for some of you, do check the color of the discharge.

For Plan B spotting, it will be a reddish brown color. The blood mostly contains some debris from the uterus as well. For the record, the color of the discharge is not always a constant. It might vary within the average range.

And for implantation bleeding, the discharge color is pinkish red. You might see some whitish mucus with it as well. 

Abdominal Cramp

You might feel a slight pain in your lower abdomen during Plan B bleeding. But the cramp is not always caused by the bleeding itself. Sometimes the use of tampons can cause cramps.

abdominal-cramp

For implantation bleeding, it’s very unlikely to feel any abdominal pain. But if you do somehow feel it, don’t be irked. It’s completely normal so rest assured.

When to Expect

This is the most important thing to keep in mind when figuring out the cause of your bleeding. Let me tell you why.

Spotting can start within hours of taking Plan B. Most of the users experience spotting within 8 hours of taking the morning after pill.

Whereas it takes 10-14 days after ovulation for the embryo to implant in the uterus and to cause implantation bleeding.

So do go through your period tracker immediately and check your estimated date of ovulation. If the date was around 10-14 days ago, and your spotting is recent, then congrats! There is a chance you might be already pregnant. 

Duration

Plan B spotting generally lasts for 2-3 days at most.

And you will see your implantation bleeding for a span of a couple hours mostly. Sometimes it can last for 3 days, but that is very rare.

Heaviness

Plan B spotting is not as heavy or flowy as your regular period, but it does have a certain volume to it. But in comparison, implantation bleeding will be scanty in amount. Just a few splotches at most.

Chance of Pregnancy

If you have taken Plan B, the spotting might mean it has worked so you are not pregnant. But implantation bleeding always means that you are already pregnant after your conception. And your embryo has latched onto you safely.

If you are still unsure if it is because of implantation or Plan B, there is one more thing you can do. If you are having doubts about getting pregnant, you should take a pregnancy test at home. How to do that? 

Step 1 : Remove The Cap

Remove the cap of the stick and expose the absorbent part.

Step 2 : Point The Tip Into Urine 

Point the absorbent tip directly into the urine stream. Collect a sample for 10 seconds.

Ensure that you collected an adequate sample in the testing device. 

Another way to do it would be to collect the urine sample in a container. Then dip the absorbent pad there for at least 10 seconds.

Step 3 : Sit and Wait

Re-cap the stick and place it horizontally on a flat surface. Now, wait for 5 minutes to see the results.

Now this is a lot to take in at once, right? We came to your rescue once again so sit back!

Here’s an exclusive one glance summary that will help you list the important points in your mind.

Plan B SpottingImplantation Bleeding
A very common side effect of the pill.A somewhat rare incidence for pregnant women.
Means the pills have worked, you are safe.Means you are very much pregnant as of now.
Starts within 8 hours of taking the pill.Starts after 10-14 days after the ovulation date.
The discharge has a reddish brown color.The blood is more of a pinkish red shade.
Persists for 2-3 days generally.Can last for 2 hours to 3 days.
The blood flow is lesser than the normal period but heavier than implantation bleeding.The blood flow is very minimal in amount.
Plan B can delay or hasten your next period to some extent.Implantation means you are pregnant and you can stop worrying about getting your periods for the next few months.

Hopefully, you can now distinguish between your symptoms and identify what’s exactly the cause for your bleeding. 

Is Your Bleeding Serious?

So by now, you have learned how to tell between Plan B spotting and implantation bleeding. So how can you know if your condition is serious?

But first, let’s talk about what is normal to feel in both cases.

So if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, do not fret. They will go away with time even without any medications.

So what actually raises the red flag? Here’s what you should look for.

  • Prolonged bleeding for more than a week after taking Plan B.
  • If you are experiencing a heavy bleeding. Like if you have to change your tampon or pad every two to three hours for longer than a day.
  • Severe and sudden abdominal pain.
  • Rash or itching.
  • Vomiting within two hours of taking the pill.

If you are experiencing any of these, go to your gynecologist. The prolonged and severe bleeding might even be from ectopic pregnancy in the worst cases. Also, it would cause unnecessary blood loss from your body. So consulting your doctor would help in identifying the cause of the problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can implantation happen after taking Plan B?

Plan B acts like other birth control pills that prevent pregnancy. Such pills act by preventing the union of sperm and egg thus stopping fertilization. So if Plan B works, it will prevent a fertilized embryo from implantation. And the success rate of Plan B is said to be 61% – 95%

Are Plan B side effects similar to pregnancy symptoms?

Yes, they are super similar to early pregnancy symptoms. This is the last thing you want to hear after taking emergency contraception. But luckily, if Plan B is taken within 72 hours, it does its job right in almost all cases. 

How do I know if Plan B worked?

The only way to know if Plan B has worked or not is to wait for your next period. If your period is more than a week late, you might want to consider taking a pregnancy test. 

Parting Words

Vaginal bleeding or spotting due to Plan B and implantation are very common and normally nothing to worry about. Even the other side effects of Plan B are comparatively safer than most medications.

But if you think the bleeding is getting out of hand or the cramp is too severe, take the wiser step and consult with your physician.

And if you are still worried about the pregnancy that you didn’t plan, just wait for 3 days after your bleeding starts and pee on the stick. You can then know what exactly is the cause of your worry.

If you have more questions about Plan B spotting vs implantation bleeding, do let us know in the comments. We love it when you send us your feedback!

But do not think about it too much. Because in most cases, the issues get resolved by themselves. So drink plenty of water to keep yourself healthy, hydrated, and strong. Stay safe and take care till we see you in the next article!

Sajia Sharmin

Sajia Sharmin

Hi, I'm Sajia, currently studying in Chittagong Medical College and pursuing my MBBS degree. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is something I prioritize in my daily life. Hence I read a lot of medical articles and blogs to keep up to date. And writing is something I'm very passionate about so I love helping people with the knowledge I've gained throughout my academic and blog-reading journey. I binge watch TV series and K-Dramas in my free time and absolutely love listening to K-Pop, jazz and R&B music.

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