Am I pregnant or is it just my PMS? This is a common question a lot of women will be needing an answer to, especially those who have never experienced pregnancy before.
It is understandable, considering that PMS and pregnancy both share some common symptoms and thus can be quite confusing to most people.
But although the differences can be subtle and vary from one woman to another, there are ways for you to actually tell the difference.
Read on as we explore the similarities and differences between the two.
Premenstrual syndrome or more commonly known by its abbreviation, PMS is a group of symptoms that most (if not all) women experience a couple of weeks before having their period.
More often than not, these symptoms are confused with that of early pregnancy because the signs and symptoms can be pretty similar.
Mutual symptoms of PMS and pregnancy include:
For both PMS and pregnancy, it is normal for women to experience breast-related symptoms such as pain, tenderness, swelling, heaviness, sensitivity or bumpy breast tissue.
The severity varies between individual, but in people with PMS, they typically get better during the period or just after it ends.
In early pregnancy, however, the area around the nipple may feel sore and the breasts usually feel tender to the touch, and often get heavier.
For some, they may even develop blue veins that are noticeable near the surface of the breasts. These breast symptoms may persist until childbirth.
Hormonal changes during PMS and throughout pregnancy can bring about mood changes and unexpected emotional pandemonium.
This is true, especially for pregnant women. You may have moments of highs when you feel ecstatic and excited for the new member of your family, but you may also be surprised to have just as significant moments of sadness or even crying spells.
Women with PMS will usually feel more anxious, sad and easily irritated, but these symptoms are short-lived and typically disappear once menstruation begins.
If however, the feelings of sadness persist (2 weeks or more) for both cases, you may need to see a doctor as this can indicate depression.
If you’re having PMS, you may have menstrual cramps one to two days before your period. The pain will gradually decrease and go away by the end of your flow.
You may also experience mild or light cramping early in pregnancy, but they’ll usually be in your lower stomach or lower back. These cramps may persist for weeks or months during pregnancy, as the uterus stretches.
It’s pretty common for people with PMS to have increased appetite and cravings for foods that are sweet and salty.
But for pregnant women, on the other hand, they may have a highly specific craving towards certain foods and at the same time be totally uninterested in other foods, even ones they liked.
It gets even weirder as some pregnant women may compulsively crave for non-food items, such as ice, dirt, or pieces of metal. This condition is known as PICA, and you should talk to your doctor if you have it.
Changes in hormones can cause both headaches and back pain in early pregnancy and before the menstrual period.
Tiredness or fatigue can be just as common during PMS and pregnancy as it is with difficulty sleeping.
This is due to the increased levels of progesterone hormone during both pregnancy and PMS.
To offset this effect, make sure you eat well and have enough rest throughout your period and pregnancy.
Based on research, constipation affects 38 percent of women during pregnancy, but it also affects many women just before their periods.
Mom-to-be are most likely to have constipation in the first two trimesters, while bowel problems related to PMS usually ends just as the periods begin.
Yes. There are some symptoms which are more likely to indicate early pregnancy than an imminent period.
If you have a regular menstrual cycle and noticed that your period is delayed for more than a week, there’s a possibility that you are pregnant, especially if you’ve had unprotected sex during the time of your fertile window (four days prior to ovulation and 48 hours after ovulation).
Besides pregnancy, there are other reasons that can cause your period to be delayed such as stress, low body weight, using birth control, or other medical conditions.
Morning sickness is one of the most classic and clear signs of pregnancy and it affects up to 80 percent of pregnant women.
Nausea and vomiting usually start before the 9th week of pregnancy. Despite the name, morning sickness can occur at any time of the day.
Some women might confuse implantation spotting with menstrual bleeding.
While the actual menstrual flow is heavier, implantation bleeding usually is lighter in color and lasts just a day or two.
The bleeding occurs at the time the fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall, hence the name.
Darkening of the nipple and/ or areolas (colored area around the nipple) are signs of pregnancy that do not occur in premenstrual syndrome. It can occur as early as 1 to 2 weeks after conception.
It is helpful to track your symptoms so you notice when there’s a change in your typical menstrual pattern, particularly when you are trying to conceive.
If you suspect that you are pregnant, take a home pregnancy test to confirm it. The sooner you find out that you’re pregnant, the sooner you can get the right care.
Make sure to talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about any of your symptoms.
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Ernst, H. (2018). PMS vs. pregnancy symptoms: How to tell the difference. [online] Medical News Today. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323122.php.
Wilson, D. (2018). PMS Symptoms vs. Pregnancy Symptoms: 7 Comparisons. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/pms-symptoms-vs-pregnancy-symptoms#mood-changes.
Stoppler, M. and Davis, C. (2018). PMS or Pregnant Differences Between Symptoms & Signs. [online] eMedicineHealth. Available at: https://www.emedicinehealth.com/pms_vs_pregnancy_symptoms_and_signs/article_em.htm#can_i_have_my_period_and_be_pregnant.
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