Are you trying to figure out the difference between PMS and pregnancy symptoms? Many women wonder whether they are pregnant or expecting a period. The question only triggers anxiety, excitement, and anticipation for many women. Before beginning your monthly cycle, you can experience certain changes in your body. Such symptoms are also common for women who have conceived. But, certain symptoms differentiate the two conditions. You need to pay close attention to your body to detect such changes. The symptoms of both the condition vary from one person to another.
While PMS refers to the discomfort you can experience a week or two before you get your period, pregnancy means a fertilized egg has embedded in your uterus. Before taking the pregnancy test, navigating the difference between early pregnancy signs and PMS can become tricky. You tend to feel happy about having a baby until your period arrives fashionably late. To avoid such heartbreaking moments, you need to know about the conditions in detail.
About PMS And Pregnancy Symptoms
Table of Contents
You tend to confuse the PMS and pregnancy symptoms. It is heartbreaking for women who are trying for a baby. Let’s see in detail about the two conditions, the common symptoms, and the differences.
PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
PMS is a common condition affecting more than 90% of menstruating women. It can cause you discomfort as it affects your emotional and physical health. It also changes your behavior for several days before actually having your period. You can experience the symptoms five to ten days before starting your period. Some women tend to experience it two weeks before getting their period. You experience the symptoms due to the change in your sex hormones as well as serotonin. These levels can fluctuate at the beginning of your menstrual cycle. It can cause the following signs:
- Mood Swings
You suffer these symptoms due to the fluctuations in the estrogen and progesterone levels. The increase in hormones can result in discomfort.
During ovulation, your ovaries release an egg. When women have unprotected sex during ovulation, the sperm can fertilize the egg in your fallopian tube. The fertilized egg travels to your uterus through the fallopian tube. The embryo implants into the uterus and starts growing. Successful implantation can lead to pregnancy. After forty weeks (the full term of pregnancy), you deliver a baby. For sustaining the pregnancy, your body releases hormones to ensure the fetus has a favorable environment to grow. Such hormonal fluctuations can trigger several symptoms. These symptoms mimic PMS signs. So, you can observe many common PMS and pregnancy symptoms. Read ahead to know more about it.
PMS And Pregnancy: Mutual Symptoms You Need To Know
PMS and pregnancy symptoms can overlap. So, you can get confused if you are pregnant or going to have your period. If you are trying for a baby, then the changes in your body can confuse. Here are some of the common signs of both the conditions you need to know:
While you may not see bleeding until your periods start, you can see blood spotting. It means you can see light traces of blood until your period starts. Once your period starts, the bleeding becomes heavier and can last from three days to a week. You may think light spotting can occur only during PMS, but it can also happen when you get pregnant. Some women see pink or dark brown spotting at the time of implantation. It usually occurs when the fertilized embryo embeds itself to the uterus. You can see the spotting six to twelve days after conception. So, it occurs around the time of your menstrual period. Some people may think it as their actual period with shorter duration.
Exhaustion and fatigue is a common symptom for both PMS as well as pregnancy. Women feel tired and exhausted even when they have not done anything strenuous. This PMS sign goes away when your period begins. But, some people can feel tired and miss their period. So, if you experience extreme fatigue without getting your period, then you need to take a pregnancy test. Pregnant women can experience fatigue due to the spike in progesterone levels. The increased hormone levels can cause a drop in sugar and pressure levels. So, you feel tired. Of you have confirmed pregnancy, then you need to drink more water, take rest, and get good nutrition to ease the symptoms.
Pelvic/Abdominal Cramping: One Of The Common PMS And Pregnancy Symptoms
Cramping before getting your period is common. The cramps also referred to as dysmenorrhea is common and varies in severity among women. Depending on the genetic disposition as well as the body system, the cramping can range from mild to severe. As you get your periods, the pain decreases. So, the pain subsides as the menstrual flow ends. As you age, the cramps associated with periods can reduce. Abdominal pain or cramping can also occur during the early stages of pregnancy. It occurs when the fertilized egg embeds into your uterine wall. This action can lead to mild abdominal cramping as well as spotting. As the uterus expands, some women feel pain in the lower stomach. This can continue for several weeks or months. So, the cramping can last longer in pregnancy than PMS.
Changes in mood are one of the common PMS and pregnancy symptoms. But, PMS-related mood changes typically disappears once you start your period. These mood changes also referred to as mood swings can make you uncomfortable. You tend to experience a sudden unexplained change in your mood. In the week leading to your period, you wake up in a great mood. But, as the day progresses, you become angry or irritable without any specific reason. So, the people around you can feel the wrath of your mood changes. The emotional symptoms include:
- Feeling sad
You experience such mood swings due to the changes in the estrogen and progesterone levels in your body. These hormones influence serotonin levels. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating your mood, appetite, and sleep cycle. So, a decrease in the serotonin levels due to estrogen and progesterone levels can lead to irritability and sadness.
When your mood changes persist and miss your period, then you need to suspect pregnancy. The mood changes are caused by the following reasons:
- Physical stress
- Changes in metabolism
- Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone hormone
You experience these signs due to the changes in the hormone levels. It affects the neurotransmitter levels in your body. Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals working in regulating your mood. So, most pregnant women can experience such mental conditions with low to moderate severity.
Worsening Of Mood Changes: Depression
The persistent feeling of sadness, mood changes, or anxiety indicates you suffer from depression. So, if your low moods last for two weeks or more, then it is better to talk to your doctor. Around a small percentage of pregnant women (10%) around the world experience depression, a mental condition that can result in severe complications if you leave it unaddressed. The low moods can affect your life personally and professionally. So, you need to take proactive action. Check for the following signs that indicate you suffer from depression:
- Recurring anxiety
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased irritability
- Sleep disturbances
- Changes in your eating habits
- Short-term memory loss
- Inability to concentrate or focus on anything for a long time
If the symptoms start affecting your daily life or lasts for more than two weeks, then you need to take action. Irrespective of your pregnancy or PMS, depression needs immediate medical attention. So, speak with your health care provider to address the condition. Your doctor can provide a referral to a counselor who can help you deal with the condition better. Depression can become fatal as you will have suicidal thoughts. It is a common problem which most people avoid seeking help due to embarrassment. While it is common for any woman to suffer from depression, it is prevalent among women in their childbearing ages. So, it is important to deal with severe mood swings, depression, or anxiety that can make you think about harming yourself.
One Of The Common PMS And Pregnancy Symptoms: Constipation
Hormonal fluctuations are common during your menstrual period and pregnancy. So, it ca results in constipation. After ovulation, your body produces progesterone. This hormone can make your bowel muscles relax. So, it slows down your bowel moment until your periods begin. During your pregnancy, progesterone is produced by the body for the growth of the fetus. It also relaxes the bowels and allows the food to stay in the digestive tract for more time. It is to provide added time for the nutrients to absorb into your bloodstream and give nutrition to your baby. So, pregnant women tend to suffer from constipation in the first two semesters while PMS related constipation subsides after the period begins.
Breast Tenderness And Pain
Breast changes are common PMS and pregnancy symptoms. You can experience several breast changes during both PMS as well as early pregnancy:
- Bumpy tissue in your breast
The severity of the symptoms varies depending on the individuals. But, the PMS related breast changes are more prominent before the period is due. It gets better during the period or once it subsides. But, the early pregnancy-related breast tenderness and heaviness can prolong until childbirth. Pregnant women tend to feel soreness around the nipple. Some women feel the nipple sting or notice the appearance of blue veins near the surface of the breast. These symptoms begin around one or two weeks after conception.
Headaches And Back pain
Before beginning your menstrual cycle, your body suffers from a drop in estrogen. So, it can trigger headaches. If you have migraines, then before or during the menstruation, your migraines can get worse. After conception, pregnant women experience a change in hormone levels, as well as blood volume, which can contribute to headaches. Pregnant women can also experience headaches due to fatigue, stress, and eyestrain. Early pregnancy signs also include nasal congestion as well as a runny nose that causes sinus headaches.
Back pain is a common PMS and pregnancy symptom. You suffer from back pain before your menstrual cycle due to the release of prostaglandins hormone that promotes uterine contraction to encourage uterine lining shedding. So, it affects the lower back muscles and results in pain. Lower back pain can also occur during the pregnancy as your body starts making the relaxin hormone. It allows the ligaments in your pelvic region and joints to relax. It is to prepare your body for the birth process. But, the release of the hormones causes the ligaments supporting the spine to loosen. So, it leads to instability and pain in your lower back.
One Of The Common PMS And Pregnancy Symptoms: Changes In appetite
Changes in hormones can make you crave food, especially sweet goods. It can occur either before getting your period or after conception. The hormonal imbalance can increase your appetite and cravings for fatty foods or foods rich in carbs. It usually occurs due to the changes in the estrogen and progesterone levels before getting your period. So, it is a common PMS symptom. But, pregnant women can also have cravings. After conception, you can crave specific food and have aversions to specific smells or sights. So, you find certain sights or smell deeply unpleasant.
While such cravings are common and not serious, some people have bizarre cravings. Such pregnant women crave non-food items like dirt, ice, or brick. It is a phenomenon referred to as pica. No single cause of the condition exists. In some cases, the underlying nutritional deficiency can lead to strange cravings. So, a deficiency in zinc, iron, or other nutrients can cause pica. So, you need to speak to your doctor regarding the condition.
PMS And Pregnancy Symptoms: Know The Differences
While most of the PMS and pregnancy symptoms may seem alike, there are some signs unique to pregnancy. These symptoms are more likely to point to an early pregnancy rather than an impending period. But, these are just assumptions and not clear indications. But, women need to check out for the symptoms that indicate an early pregnancy like:
A Missed Period
One of the main differences between PMS and pregnancy symptoms is a missed period. If you see no period on the due date or after one week, then you need to take a pregnancy test. The pregnancy tests you get now are highly sensitive. So, it can detect pregnancy hormones within days of missing the period. But, not all people who have missed their period are pregnant. Several other underlying factors can affect the menstrual cycle. People who suffer from the following can miss a period or have a late period:
- Sudden weight loss or low body weight
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Using a birth control method or going off it
- Switch the birth control methods
- Suffer from thyroid disease
- Have diabetes
- Nearing menopause
Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of early pregnancy. But, if it is not a PMS symptom. While you can suffer from mild digestive problems before getting your period, which may cause discomfort, it does not escalate to nausea or vomiting. So, feeling nauseous is not a sign of PMS. It is a unique pregnancy sign that affects almost 80% of pregnant women. You feel nauseous or tend to vomit starting the 9th week of pregnancy. It is the common sign affecting women during their first trimester. But, the vomiting and nausea subside by the second trimester while some women experience it throughout their pregnancy.
PMS And Pregnancy Symptom: Darkening Of Nipple The Unique Pregnancy Symptom
When you become pregnant, you can observe some changes in your body. One such symptom is the darkening of the nipples. It occurs due to the rising estrogen levels in the body. Due to the increase in certain hormones, you can see the darkening of the areola, which will remain dark even after delivering the baby.
Observe Changes In Cervical Mucus
If you observe your body closely, then you can see some common indications of pregnancy. One among them is the appearance of your cervical mucus. After conception, cervical mucus has a milky, white, and thin appearance. It may also feel sticky.
Shortness Of Breath
After conception, your uterus starts to grow. As time progresses, the uterus starts to push up the abdomen. So, it results in the reduction of space for oxygen exchange. It results in shortness of breath.
Spike In Basal Body Temperature
The basal body temperature increases (around 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit and 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) after ovulation. Once the fertilized egg attaches to the uterus, your basal body temperature continues to remain high.
Since most of the PMS and pregnancy symptoms are alike, you need to check for the unique signs indicating the early stages of pregnancy. But, to uncover the actual reason behind the symptoms, you need to see a doctor. For a better analysis, you need to wait until your period date. So, you need to complete the two week wait period and then take the necessary steps.
PMS And Pregnancy Symptoms: The Two-Week Wait Period
Couples who are eagerly waiting for the stroke to visit their home are anxious about the PMS and pregnancy symptoms. A week after you ovulate, your body produces progesterone hormone to offer a safe environment for the fertilized egg to grow in your uterus. If the fertilized egg attaches to the uterus, then your body produced more progesterone for safeguarding your pregnancy. Every month a woman has only a 15%-25% chance to become pregnant (it varies with age). So, until you get a positive result, you need to take steps to increase the chances. So, if you are wishing to get pregnant, follow the steps suggested below:
Drinking alcohol is not good for women who are trying to get pregnant. If you consume alcohol during the early stages of pregnancy, it can harm the fetus. So, it is better to abstain from alcohol when you are trying for a baby.
Limit Caffeine To Ease PMS And Pregnancy Symptoms
High levels of caffeine can harm the baby as it can lead to low birth weight and other health complications later in the child’s life. Consuming more caffeine can also worsen PMS and pregnancy signs. So, limit the consumption to ease the symptoms, making you uncomfortable.
Avoid Raw Food
Uncooked or undercooked fish, beef, or poultry can cause harm to the fetus. It is because of the high risk of contamination with toxoplasmosis, coliform bacteria, and salmonella. Eating deli meats can put you at risk as it can get contaminated with listeria.
Take Prenatal Vitamins
Women trying to get pregnant need to take prenatal vitamins. So, try including folic acid (400mg to 800mg). Taking prenatal vitamins prevents neural tube defects in babies. The neural tube of the fetus develops into the brain and spinal cord of the baby. It usually develops during the first four weeks of the pregnancy.
Include Physical Activity
You need to keep your body fit. Include moderate-intensity physical activity in your daily routine. You need to indulge in activities that do not increase your core body temperatures like heated spinning or hot yoga. It affects the implantation and worsens the PMS signs. So, try to choose exercises that keep you fit and never affect implantation.
Stress can escalate PMS signs and affect the chances of pregnancy. So, you need to take activities to relieve stress. Enjoy a good night’s sleep (for at least eight hours), try to find stressors (the cause of stress) and avoid it, practice relaxation techniques, and live by your values.
PMS And Pregnancy Symptoms: Seeing A Doctor
Women who are planning for a family feel anxious and nervous around their menstrual date. For clearing the doubt between the PMS and pregnancy signs, you can take a home pregnancy test. It is the most easiest and effective method to clear your doubts. Wait at least 2-3 days after you have skipped your period for correct results. Based on the results, you need to take the following steps:
Pregnancy Test Positive
If you see a positive result, then make an appointment with the doctor. The doctor performs a blood test and ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy. Based on the test results, your doctor will suggest the next steps.
But, in some cases, the home pregnancy test can show a false-positive result. In such cases, the blood test results can come back as negative for pregnancy. You need to wait for some days for your periods to resume. When you fail to resume the periods, then your doctor performs further testing. It is to detect the underlying health condition causing the problem. So, based on the results, you need to take medications as suggested by the doctor.
Test Result Is Negative
If you see a negative test result, then you need to wait for at least a week or two after the due date. Some women can get the period within the specified time. But, if you see this occurring every month, then it is a good idea to see a doctor. The doctor can perform tests to detect the actual cause of a late or missed period. The health professionals can also address any concerns regarding the unusual signs observed by the women. By following the recommended treatment options, you can overcome the problem causing the missed/late period.
PMS and pregnancy have some symptoms that may seem similar. But, unique signs can differentiate the two conditions. You need to observe your body for the signs to determine the exact reason for seeing such signs. The signs of early pregnancy and PMS are similar because the body tends to produce progesterone a week after ovulation. Progesterone hormone triggers the PMS-like symptoms, which continues when a woman becomes pregnant. Talk to your gynecologist regarding the concerns and queries to get the right directions for ensuring better health.View Article Sources