What Are Implantation Cramps?

Mild cramping that happens when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus

cramps

Catherine McQueen / Moment / Getty Images

If you’ve ever been pregnant or tried to get pregnant in the past, you may have heard of implantation cramps. You might wonder if you are feeling them and/or worry if you're not feeling any cramping at all. However, while some people notice implantation cramping when implantation happens, others do not. And whether or not you feel implantation cramps doesn't impact your pregnancy, but if you do, it can be an early sign of conception.

First, let's review a quick biology lesson. When you ovulate, one of your ovaries releases an egg into your fallopian tubes; if you happen to have sex up to 3 days before or within 24 hours (during or after) this release, there’s a chance that the egg could become fertilized with sperm. When that occurs, the newly fertilized egg implants itself in the lining of your uterus, which makes you officially pregnant.

That implantation process, though, can cause some mild cramping, also known as implantation cramps. Not everyone feels them, they have zero impact on the health of your pregnancy or growing fetus, and they may or may not be accompanied by other early signs of pregnancy, like spotting. Learn more about implantation cramps.

What Do Implantation Cramps Feel Like? 

The sensation is different from person to person, but in most cases, they feel like mild cramps, usually dull and aching, or light twinges. Some people also describe feeling a prickling, tingling, or pulling sensation. The sensations may come and go or last for one to two days before disappearing.

Usually, the sensations can be felt in the lower back, lower abdomen, or even the pelvic area. Although only one of your ovaries releases an egg, the cramping is caused by its implantation in the uterus—so you can expect to feel it more in the middle of your body than just on one side.

When Do They Occur?

Every menstrual cycle is a different length, and a newly fertilized egg can take anywhere from six to 10 days after ovulation to implant itself in your uterus. So it’s hard to say exactly what your personal window of time for experiencing implantation cramps might be. 

Generally, if you have a regular menstrual cycle, you can expect to feel implantation cramps about 4 to 8 days before your next period is scheduled to occur. (The average length of time between ovulation and menstruation is about 14 days, so if implantation happens 6 to 10 days after ovulation, that leaves you with a timeframe of 4 to 8 days before your period hits.)

Again, this is all assuming you have an average 28-day menstrual cycle, which doesn’t apply to all people. If your cycle is shorter or longer than 28 days, that will affect when in your cycle implantation occurs.

How Common Are Implantation Cramps?

No one knows for sure—only that some people notice them and others don’t. It’s more likely that you’ll observe implantation cramps if you’ve been trying to conceive; the possibility that this month is the month you could get pregnant will probably make you hyper aware of early signs and symptoms of pregnancy.

On the other hand, people who aren’t expecting to become pregnant may technically feel implantation cramping but not even give it a second thought. And, of course, some simply won’t feel anything at all.

Do They Feel Like Period Cramps?

The sensation itself is similar to period cramps, but is typically not as strong. Many women don’t realize they’re experiencing implantation cramps because they’re due to start their period within the next week; they dismiss their mild cramping as premenstrual symptoms. 

Here’s where things get really tricky. The early signs of pregnancy overlap a lot with premenstrual symptoms. That can make it tough to tell exactly what’s going on, since both scenarios often cause fatigue, mood swings, cravings, and sore breasts. Be patient (even though it’s hard!) because at this point in your cycle, making any assumptions about your symptoms could lead to unnecessary stress, anxiety, or disappointment.

What If They Are Painful?

If your implantation cramping is affecting your day, you can try applying heat with a warmed-up heating pad or taking acetaminophen. (Although you don’t know for sure if you’re pregnant yet or not, acetaminophen is the safest OTC pain reliever to take during pregnancy, so choose it if you really want to be on the safe side.)

However, it’s important to note that implantation cramping shouldn’t be debilitating. If your pain is severe, accompanied by other worrying symptoms like heavy bleeding or fever, or is only occurring intensely on one side of your body, you should contact your healthcare provider. It could be a sign of early miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy, or an ovarian cyst.

What If You Don’t Feel Them? 

Not feeling any implantation cramps doesn’t mean that you’re not pregnant or that something has gone wrong with the implantation process. Some women just don’t feel them or don’t realize what they are feeling counts as implantation symptoms. If you’re trying to conceive, there’s no reason to think that pregnancy is any less likely to occur if you don’t feel any implantation cramps.

Are There Other Signs of Implantation?

A few other symptoms might happen around the same time that you have implantation cramps. These are some early signs of pregnancy that you may or may not notice:

And, last but not least, if you don’t get your period a week or so after experiencing suspected implantation cramps, that could be the most significant symptom of all. It’s too early to take a pregnancy test when you feel implantation cramps.

In order to get an accurate result, you need a certain level of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) present in your urine. This is a hormone produced by your body during pregnancy, but in the very early stages, it’s often only there in small amounts.

There’s definitely not enough hCG to be detected on an at-home test during implantation. By the time you’ve actually missed your next period, is when to take a pregnancy test. At that point, enough hCG should be present in your urine for a positive rest result if implantation occurred.

A Word From Verywell

During pregnancy, one person's experience of implantation cramps can be very different from another's. So, don't worry if you're hoping conception occurred but don't feel any tingling, pulling, or mild cramping to signal implantation. Many people have no signs of implantation at all. Once you've missed your next period, you can take an at-home pregnancy test and follow that up with a visit to your healthcare provider.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Su H, Yi Y, Wei T, Chang T, Cheng C. Detection of Ovulation, a Review of Currently Available MethodsBioengineering & Translational Medicine. 2017;2(3):238-246. doi: 10.1002/btm2.10058

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Am I Pregnant? Early Symptoms of Pregnancy & When To Test. Reviewed April 1, 2020.

By Sarah Bradley
Sarah Bradley is a freelance health and parenting writer who has been published in Parents, the Washington Post, and more.