You’ve ditched the birth control, started tracking your basal body temperature, and are hitting the sheets with your partner on the regular. Now you’re wondering: Are those symptoms you’re experiencing just PMS…or a tip-off that a bun’s in the oven?
If you just can’t wait to take a home pregnancy test, here are a few early signs of pregnancy before a missed period that may signal you’ve conceived.
Early Signs of Pregnancy
What are the early signs of pregnancy before a missed period?
Until you’ve produced a positive pregnancy test, there’s no way to know for sure you’re expecting. But experiencing any of these early pregnancy symptoms before your period normally arrives could mean you’ve hit baby bingo:
- Tender breasts. Breasts are often the first body part to get the message when sperm meets egg. Some women’s breasts may feel tingly, sore, full and even painful to the touch within days of conception as estrogen levels start to rise. That said, these changes may not feel a whole lot different from PMS breasts — the changes simply stick around after your missed period.
- Darkening areolas. Here’s one change in your breasts that can’t be confused with PMS: You may notice that your areolas (the circles around your nipples) darken and increase in diameter in the weeks following conception. You may also spot tiny goosebump-like bumps on your areolas (glands that will eventually lubricate your nursing nipples). Both of these changes can only be chalked up to pregnancy. That said, these early pregnancy signs can take weeks to show up, and not all women will notice them.
- Fatigue. With all that work that goes into baby-making, plus higher levels of pregnancy hormones, the first four months of pregnancy can leave you feeling sluggish and sleepy. Keep in mind, though, a case of the sleepies can also mean you’re PMS-ing, over-stressed or not getting enough sleep.
- Nausea. Just days after conception, you might start to get the queasies (a.k.a. morning sickness) due to a rush of new pregnancy hormones — although nausea is more likely to rear its ugly head four weeks later, when you’re around 6 weeks pregnant. Again, not everyone gets nauseous; it could also be a sign of PMS, a stomach bug or food poisoning.
- Sensitivity to smell. Some newly pregnant women report a heightened sense of smell early on due to increased levels of estrogen. Once again, however, a keener-than-usual nose could also be a side effect of PMS.
- Bloating. As all women know, bloating is one of the least-loved PMS symptoms — but it can also be a sign of increased pregnancy-induced progesterone that slows down your digestive tract, trapping gas inside your intestines.
- Urinary frequency. If you suddenly find that you need to pee, like, all the time, it could be an early sign of pregnancy before your period. As soon as two weeks after conception — around the time you’d normally be getting your period — your kidneys start gearing up to filter out the extra waste in your blood from the baby on board. Your growing uterus also starts pushing on your bladder and your progesterone levels increase, resulting in a frequent (or constant) need to pee during pregnancy.
- Elevated basal body temperature (BBT). If you’ve already been tracking your temperature, you know that it typically increases around the time of ovulation as progesterone levels rise; both drop when you have your period. But if you conceive, your body temperature will remain elevated from ovulation throughout your pregnancy. Count 18 or more consecutive days of elevated temperature post-ovulation, and it’s a good sign you’re plus-one.
- Cervical mucus. Become a student of your cervical mucus? Then check it out now: If it becomes creamy and stays that way after ovulation, it’s a good sign you’ll have a positive pregnancy test.
Keep in mind, just because you’ve experienced some of these symptoms doesn’t mean you’re expecting. You could also have none of them at all and still go on to have a perfectly healthy pregnancy. Every woman is different, as is every pregnancy, so the only way to know you’re expecting for sure is to pee on a stick (sometimes more than once).
How soon can I get pregnancy symptoms before I miss my period?
Some women experience common early pregnancy symptoms like tender breasts, nausea, fatigue, sensitivity to smell or bloating within days after conception, or about a week-and-a-half before your period is scheduled to arrive. Other symptoms, like urinary frequency, may not show up until around the time your period’s supposed to make its appearance. You may not notice or be able to confirm other early pregnancy symptoms — like changes in your areolas, a consistently creamy vaginal discharge, and an elevated BBT — for a few weeks. And remember, plenty of women don’t experience any of these symptoms.
What’s the difference between pregnancy symptoms and PMS?
Most early pregnancy symptoms before your period are strikingly similar to the side effects of PMS. However you’ll only notice changes in your areolas (they’ll look darker, wider and bumpy) if you’re pregnant. A consistently elevated BBT and creamy vaginal discharge post-ovulation are also both relatively reliable signs of conception, but they’re certainly not fool-proof.
Otherwise, the only way to know if other early pregnancy symptoms (nausea, tender breasts, fatigue, bloating, sensitivity to smell, etc.) are due to a baby or PMS is to hold out until you can take a pregnancy test.
How long after I start feeling pregnancy symptoms can I take a home pregnancy test?
Although you may start to feel early pregnancy symptoms before your period, most women have to wait for an average of two weeks from the time they ovulate for a positive home pregnancy test result. Home pregnancy tests measure levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This placenta-produced hormone makes its way into your urine almost immediately after an embryo begins implanting in your uterus, between six to 12 days after fertilization. You can start using most home pregnancy tests as soon as hCG can be detected in your urine — and hCG levels usually aren’t high enough to be picked up by a home pregnancy test until your period’s expected.
Can’t wait until then? Some HPTs promise 60 to 75 percent accuracy four to five days before you expect your period. Wait until your period and the rate jumps to 90 percent; wait another week and the results are 99 percent accurate.
Know that false negatives are much more common than false positives, so if the time for your period comes and goes without your monthly flow, check in with your health care provider. Either way, you’ll want to get a blood test to confirm your pregnancy status.
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Do I have to miss my period to be pregnant, or is it possible to be pregnant and get my period?
It’s possible to have light spotting and be pregnant. In fact, some newly expectant moms experience what’s known as implantation bleeding six to 12 days after conception. Here’s how to tell it’s implantation bleeding and not your period: Implantation bleeding is usually medium pink or light brown — it’s rarely period-red. It’s also spotty (much lighter than your period) and not continuous, lasting a few hours to a few days.
Spotting, however, can sometimes be a mid-cycle blip before your usual period, especially if you have an irregular or disrupted cycle. Mid-cycle brown discharge may also happen when you’re not pregnant because you’re reacting to a vaginal exam, a Pap smear or rough sex.
To make things even more confusing, you might even miss your period without being pregnant for a number of reasons, including being stressed, sick, working out too much or having a hormonal imbalance.
When in doubt, whip out that HPT and schedule a visit with your health care practitioner for a definitive answer. That way, you’ll know for sure whether you have a baby on the way!Read the original article