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Many different milestones and measurements are used to discuss and track pregnancy. Contrary to how Hollywood sometimes portrays it in the movies, your body’s work isn’t done once a sperm cell fertilizes an egg. 

In reality, many different changes and processes happen inside your body throughout pregnancy. After fertilization, the next critical milestone is implantation.

What Is Implantation?

Implantation is the process of a fertilized egg attaching itself to the lining of the uterus. This attachment is achieved due to a layer of cells surrounding the fertilized egg. This outer layer, called a trophoblast, burrows into the uterine lining and produces chorionic gonadotrophic hormone (HCG). 

Released HCG hormones help to prepare the uterus for pregnancy and are also used as a marker by standard urine and blood pregnancy tests. A typical pregnancy test checks to see if elevated HCG hormone levels are present. 

When it comes to confirming whether or not implantation has occurred, there are no obvious or universal symptoms to be aware of. Some women don’t notice a change; others may experience mild cramping and implantation bleeding. These symptoms are usually very faint and may be mistaken for normal menstrual cramps/spotting. 

Implantation Bleeding

Implantation bleeding is commonly mistaken for normal spotting. Some of the differences between implantation bleeding and normal spotting are:

CharacteristicImplantation Bleeding Normal Spotting
Timing 6 to 12 days after conceptionAny time of the menstrual cycle
Amount of BloodOften very light spotting Ranges from light to heavy
Color of BloodOften light brown or pinkOften bright red or dark brown
DurationOften lasts for a few hoursOften lasts multiple days
Other SymptomsMay be accompanied by mild cramping May be accompanied by pain, itching, or a strong odor

How Long Does Implantation Take?

Implantation usually takes place between 6 to 12 days after conception occurs. If implantation does not occur within that timeframe, the fertilized egg is unlikely to survive. The cells within the egg can only survive without a blood supply from the mother’s uterus for a limited amount of time. 

Potential Causes of Unsuccessful Implantation

Unsuccessful implantation, also known as implantation failure, can occur for a variety of reasons. Some common factors include: 

Embryonic Issues

An unhealthy egg that has chromosomal abnormalities, can be the cause of implantation failure. Abnormal aspects of an egg can make it difficult or impossible for the embryo to implant in the uterus and develop normally.


Age is one of the most common factors in implantation failure. Women over the age of 35 are less likely to achieve successful implantation.

Underlying Health Conditions

Women with certain health conditions, such as endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), are also more likely to experience implantation failure.

Previous Pregnancy Losses

Implantation failure is more common in women who have had previous losses. If you have had previous pregnancy losses, it is important to talk to your doctor about your risk of implantation failure. There are a number of tests and treatments that can help to improve your chances of success in future pregnancies.

Symptoms of Failed Implantation of a Fertilized Egg

Couples trying to conceive often anxiously await the embryo transfer stage known as implantation, as it is a pivotal point in the journey towards pregnancy, and the final step to a positive pregnancy test. Also known as the “TTW”, or two week wait, this time period brings much anxiety to couples.

While a successful implantation may result in a positive pregnancy test, signs of a failed implantation are more tricky to spot than simply seeing a negative pregnancy test result. Unfortunately, symptoms of failed implantation can sometimes resemble those of early pregnancy. Symptoms of failed implantation of a fertilized egg can include light spotting, mild cramps, or no symptoms at all. The most common sign, however, is the onset of the menstrual period.

Symptoms of recurrent implantation failure, a condition where implantation repeatedly fails despite transferring healthy embryos, are often the same, making it challenging to understand what is occurring in the body without proper medical tests and consultations.

Increasing Your Chances of Successful Implantation

If you have experienced implantation failure, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of a successful pregnancy in the future, including:

Consulting a Fertility Specialist

A fertility specialist can provide comprehensive evaluation and treatment to identify and address any underlying health conditions contributing to implantation failure.

Taking Medication

Several medications can help to improve your chances of implantation, such as clomiphene citrate and gonadotropins.  

Opting for Surgery

In some cases, surgery may be necessary for successful implantation to be possible. For example, a woman with endometriosis may elect to have surgery that will remove scar tissue to increase her chances of implantation.

What to Look Forward to After Implantation

With a healthy pregnancy, there are many milestones yet to come after embryo implantation. 

Developmental Milestones

As time passes:

  • The embryo will continue to develop as the cells within continue to split and multiply exponentially.
  • The placenta will also form as the embryo grows, providing the baby with nutrients and oxygen through the umbilical cord.
  • You will notice pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness, heartburn, cravings, etc.
  • The embryo will begin to develop organs and tissues, including the heart, brain, lungs, and kidneys.
  • The baby’s heartbeat will begin to form around six weeks of pregnancy.

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