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Home / Pregnancy / 1st Trimester / Cramping in the Early Stages of Pregnancy- What does it indicate?
Cramping in the Early Stages of Pregnancy- What does it indicate?

Cramping in the Early Stages of Pregnancy- What does it indicate?

Some women experience short spasms of pain in the abdominal area in early pregnancy. It is known as cramping and feels similar to menstrual cramps in their intensity.

Are cramps in the early stages of pregnancy normal or is it a cause of concern? 

The question on Cramps after conception gets a mixed response. On one hand, women should not worry as it is an early sign of successful conception.  However, on the other hand, persistent and severe cramps also spell trouble and demand medical attention. 

Given below are the different causes of cramps after conception. It also lists the conditions when you may have to seek medical advice. 

Implantation bleeding and cramping

If this is the cause of cramping, you can sit back and prepare for your impending motherhood. Implantation bleeding and cramping is one of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy.

When trying to conceive, it is necessary that you keep a note of your last menstrual period, days of ovulation and the days when you were sexually active. If you have been trying, there are chances that you may have conceived. 

A woman conceives when the egg is fertilized by the sperm. After conception, the zygote or the fertilized egg travels to the uterus and implants itself on the uterine wall. This process is called implantation and occurs approximately 10-14 days after conception (you can use the days when you were sexually active as a clue). Implantation causes abdominal cramping and spotting. However, the cramps are very mild and the vaginal bleeding very light; lighter than your regular period.

This type of cramping is a symptom of pregnancy. Nevertheless, consult your doctor on the same issue and you can rule out your doubts when you go to test for pregnancy.

Ectopic Pregnancy

The second cause of early pregnancy cramps is an ectopic pregnancy. This becomes a cause of worry as it is one of the major pregnancy complications.

In ectopic pregnancy, the egg after fertilization does not implant itself on the uterine wall. It attaches itself and starts growing elsewhere usually the fallopian tubes. As the zygote grows it exerts pressure on the tube walls causing pain. The increased pressure on the blood vessels ruptures them resulting in bleeding. Unlike implantation bleeding, the bleeding caused by an ectopic pregnancy is heavy. The cramps in the pelvic region are more severe; women complain of sharp shooting pain. 

Doctors diagnose an ectopic pregnancy by measuring the levels of the HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) in the blood. HCG is secreted in large quantities once implantation occurs. However in case of an ectopic pregnancy implantation has not occurred in the uterus and hence HCG levels are very low.

Increased chances of Miscarriage

Severe cramping accompanied by heavy bleeding also serves as a warning of miscarriage. 

The hormones estrogen and progesterone play a major role in ensuring a successful pregnancy. Progesterone stimulates the blood vessels of the uterus and ensures a proper supply of blood to the uterus. It thickens the wall of the uterus and the cervix. It also releases the fluids that supply the nourishment to the embryo and sperms.

When the level of progesterone is low in the body, the uterus is unable to hold the embryo and the woman may miscarry.  In the early trimester, it causes severe contractions and bleeding.

Other factors that could cause cramping in the abdominal region are placental abruption, ovarian cysts or even urinary tract infections. You will have to see your physician for these conditions.

About Shalini Mittal

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