Implantation of the conceptus is a key step in pregnancy, but little is known about the time of implantation or the relation between the time of implantation and the outcome of pregnancy.
We collected daily urine samples for up to six months from 221 women attempting to conceive after ceasing to use contraception. Ovulation was identified on the basis of the ratio of urinary estrogen metabolites to progesterone metabolites, which changes rapidly with luteinization of the ovarian follicle. The time of implantation was defined by the appearance of chorionic gonadotropin in maternal urine.
There were 199 conceptions, for 95 percent of which (189) we had sufficient data for analysis. Of these 189 pregnancies, 141 (75 percent) lasted at least six weeks past the last menstrual period, and the remaining 48 pregnancies (25 percent) ended in early loss. Among the pregnancies that lasted six weeks or more, the first appearance of chorionic gonadotropin occurred 6 to 12 days after ovulation; 118 women (84 percent) had implantation on day 8, 9, or 10. The risk of early pregnancy loss increased with later implantation (P<0.001). Among the 102 conceptuses that implanted by the ninth day, 13 percent ended in early loss. This proportion rose to 26 percent with implantation on day 10, to 52 percent on day 11, and to 82 percent after day 11.
In most successful human pregnancies, the conceptus implants 8 to 10 days after ovulation. The risk of early pregnancy loss increases with later implantation.