Are you pregnant? Or are you not? You must be going through mixed feelings and must be eager to know the result. In that case, you need not wait till you miss periods, which is ideally considered to be the first sign of pregnancy.
So how can you know whether you are conceiving or not before missed period?
You may start noticing the early signs and symptoms that your body experiences when preparing for pregnancy. This MomJunction post gives you insight on the same, continue reading to know about them and what you can do during this time.
Early Symptoms Of Pregnancy Before Missed Period
A missed period is the most prominent sign of pregnancy. But the body begins to indicate your pregnancy even before your menstrual date. Here is how.
1. Implantation bleeding and cramping:
If you had unprotected sex during your fertile window, there is a chance that you might get pregnant. You will experience menstrual cramps, light spotting or bleeding a week or two before the expected date of the period. Not everyone experiences the same symptoms, but if you do, they could be the very early signs of pregnancy.
Implantation takes place when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. It occurs around six to ten days after ovulation. If your cycle is regular (28-day cycle), you will experience implantation bleeding and cramping in the third week (around days 20 to 24), a week or so before the missed period (1).
Implantation bleeding is light, and you may notice just a few drops of blood in your underwear or while wiping your vagina. This bleeding may last for some hours or several days. Heavy bleeding could be a sign of miscarriage or a period.
2. Elevated basal body temperature:
One of the earliest signs of pregnancy, basal body temperature (BBT) is more accurate than the others. A couple of weeks before ovulation, your basal body temperature may be around 97.0 to 98.0°F, which is the average in the pre-ovulation state (2). One to two days after ovulation, your BBT usually increases by 0.5 to 1.0°F and decreases after you complete your period. But in pregnancy, the BBT remains elevated.
The changes in basal body temperature are subtle, and you will be able to notice them only if you have been tracking the temperature every day for a few months.
3. Sore, tender and heavy breasts:
Breast changes are also early signs of pregnancy. The moment you conceive, hormones signal the breasts to prepare for lactation.
Initially, the blood vessels present in the breasts dilate and start growing. Your breasts will thus become larger and the areolas, or the dark-colored circles on the nipples, also become bigger and darker. You can notice the breast changes in a week or two after conceiving. Breasts feel tingly, swollen, and sore to touch.
You will also feel uncomfortable and cumbersome. These symptoms may be similar to that of PMS but become severe during pregnancy. If your period is late and you notice breast changes along with other symptoms, take a pregnancy test (3).
Fatigue without reason may also be an early symptom of pregnancy. A spike in the levels of progesterone hormone can make you tired and sleepy all the time. Additionally, as the body begins to produce more blood to support your fetus’ growth, you will feel exhausted, especially if you don’t get enough minerals, vitamins, iron, and fluids in your diet.
If you are pregnant, you should begin taking prenatal vitamins every day. Do not take caffeine and associated products. Sleep well to fight fatigue.
As fatigue can also be due to other health issues such as anemia, hypothyroidism, etc., you cannot assume that you are pregnant by this symptom alone.
Nausea or morning sickness is a classic sign of pregnancy that you can notice in the early stages. It will afflict you in the initial weeks around the missed period, even before your pregnancy is confirmed. You will feel dizzy, weak, and may want to throw up at times.
You may feel nauseous at any time of the day, but early mornings would be the worse. About 75% of women experience morning sickness, but the severity may vary from one woman to another, and with each pregnancy. The condition may be worse in your first pregnancy but may subside with the eventual ones.
The hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) elevates in the early stages causing nausea.
Nausea usually subsides after your first trimester, but sometimes it may last through the nine months. In some women, morning sickness will not set in until the sixth week, whereas in others, it starts early.
6. Bloating and feeling of tightness:
Your tummy may protrude, your pants may be tight, and you might need to unbutton to breathe easily. You may look pregnant even if your fetus is tiny, or just a ball of cells (blastocyst). A heavy or bloated feeling in the stomach is the most uncomfortable and common symptom of pregnancy before missed periods (5).
Bloating could be followed by farts and burps because of the progesterone hormone, which retards your digestion. To get relief from bloating and for easy digestion, eat small portions through the day instead of large meals. Avoid fried and fatty foods, and choose healthy foods.
7. Urge to pee:
An increased urge to pee is a typical pregnancy symptom that you may experience soon after you have missed your period. The urge to urinate may be more during the night. This is due to excess production of the blood, owing to the many hormonal changes that occur after conception. The kidneys work to filter more blood filling up the bladder, causing you to pee frequently.
8. Food aversions:
You may start disliking the foods you once loved and even become averse to them, so much so that their smell or taste might make you nauseous. About 85% of pregnant women experience food aversions during their first trimester. Most of them get their normal or previous appetite back by their second or third trimesters, but for some, food aversions may last through the entire pregnancy.
The elevated levels of progesterone could cause food aversions due to smells, although there is no solid evidence to support the theory.
Dizziness and lightheadedness are also early symptoms of pregnancy, caused by low blood pressure. Dizziness is normal during the first trimester as the blood vessels dilate and reduce the blood pressure. The blood pressure gets back to normal during the second trimester.
Dizziness without any other symptoms is normal, but if it is accompanied with vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain, it can be a sign of ectopic pregnancy, which is a serious complication.
10. Mood swings:
Mood swings are also due to hormonal changes. The variations in the hormone levels affect the neurotransmitters of the brain, which cause enhanced emotions, from spells of weeping to sudden anger outbursts. Trying to relax, getting some rest, or talking to your partner or a friend would be helpful (5).
Hormonal changes, especially the elevated progesterone levels, can affect your digestive system. Your bowel movements get harder as the hormones cause the food to pass slowly along the digestive system. If you feel constipated regularly, you should consider taking a home pregnancy test (6).
12. Headaches and backaches:
Low blood sugar levels cause headaches as the brain cells try to cope up with the lower levels of sugar supply. If you have frequent headaches, then it could mean that the female sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone are working to prepare the womb for the baby (7).
You could also experience lower back pain as your ligaments loosen up while your body prepares to carry the weight of the baby. Implantation cramping, bloating, and constipation can all cause backaches during early pregnancy.
You can ask your doctor for some medicines, but never try self-medication during pregnancy. Also, it is important to understand and pay attention to your sleeping positions at night.
It is not a common symptom, but it affects some women in their early pregnancy. Some women may produce excessive saliva before they conceive, a pregnancy-related condition known as ptyalism gravidarum.
The excess saliva production is related to heartburn and morning sickness. Women suffering from nausea do not feel like swallowing, thus building up the extra liquid in the mouth. In the case of heartburn, production of saliva is increased to fight the heartburn caused due to excess acids. Saliva is usually alkaline and helps to neutralize the acids in your body (8).
14. Metallic taste in the mouth:
You’ll have a lingering metallic taste in your mouth along with a strong aversion to a few odors. Though the actual cause is unknown, a few experts say that it might be due to the fluctuating hormonal levels. Some women may suffer from this all through the pregnancy while some have to deal with it only in the first trimester.
15. Excessive thirst:
Early stages of pregnancy make women feel thirsty often, due to the increase in the blood volume. It, therefore, causes frequent urination that in turn will make you feel thirsty again!
16. Lack of appetite:
Due to nausea and vomiting, your appetite will be at its lowest. You will have hunger pangs and strong cravings for foods like pickles. However, your appetite is on the downward slope and may improve in the later stages of pregnancy.
You can smell lavender essential oil to help curb nausea. You can also have lavender shortbread biscuits to reduce nausea and increase your appetite. Reducing stress improves appetite to a great extent.
17. Shortness of breath:
You may begin having shortness of breath in the first few weeks of pregnancy since your body requires more oxygen and blood to share with the growing fetus. It continues throughout pregnancy as the baby grows and the need for oxygen and nutrients increases. Having an exercise routine, sitting in a proper posture, taking slow deep breaths, wearing loose clothes, etc., should help in regulating your breath.
Note that these symptoms may not always conclude that you are pregnant. They are only the indicators of a possible pregnancy. Your pregnancy can be confirmed only when you miss periods, and the test kit shows a positive result. As certain symptoms of pregnancy may be due to other medical conditions, it is best to consult a doctor.
How Soon Can You Experience Pregnancy Symptoms before a Missed Period?
The occurrence of symptoms is different with every pregnancy. Some women experience symptoms such as nausea, tender breasts, fatigue, sleepiness and bloating within a week of conception to ten days before the commencing period.
Symptoms such as increased frequency of urination will usually occur when the period is about to arrive. Symptoms such as vaginal discharge, changes in areola and elevated body temperature appear eventually and can only be detected on close examination.
What Can Be The Other Causes For A Period Delay?
Your period could be delayed due to many reasons other than pregnancy. They could be hormonal changes, excessive weight gain or weight loss, eating disorders (anorexia or bulimia), stress, polycystic ovary syndrome, travel, thyroid, birth control pills or drug use (9).
What Is The Difference Between PMS And Pregnancy Symptoms?
The effects of PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) and pregnancy symptoms are quite similar, and you should wait longer for confirming your conception. Any sign associated with PMS (such as basal body temperature, darkening areolas, nausea, food aversions on cravings) becomes more pronounced and severe with pregnancy. Therefore, taking a pregnancy test is the only way to figure out the difference between signs of conception and effects of PMS (10).
Is It Possible to Miss A Period and Not Be Pregnant?
Yes, it is possible to miss your period and not be pregnant. The reasons could be hormonal changes, extreme circumstances, thyroid levels, emergency contraceptives and more. Only a pregnancy test, and not a missed period, can confirm pregnancy.
Is It Possible To Be Pregnant And Get Your Period?
No, it is not possible to have your period while you are pregnant. In the initial pregnancy stage, you will notice light bleeding or spotting that might last for a few hours to a few days. This is implantation bleeding that occurs when the fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining. Sometimes, bleeding can also happen because of an infection, miscarriage, placental issues or an ectopic pregnancy.
How Long Should You Wait To Take A Home Pregnancy Test?
You should be waiting for one to two weeks from the time of ovulation to take a home pregnancy test (11). But the ideal time is to wait until the week after your missed period. Home pregnancy tests detect hCG, which are at their high during this period.
When Does One Start Experiencing Pregnancy Symptoms?
You will start to experience pregnancy symptoms within 12 to 15 days of conception (12). When you have intercourse in the ovulation period, the sperm fuses with the egg to form an embryo that implants into the uterine wall. You will become pregnant ten days before your commencing period, which is also when you begin to develop early signs of pregnancy.
Right from the day you have sex during ovulation period, your body is in the process of developing a new life inside you. While signs and symptoms before a missed period could indicate pregnancy, only a test can give you precise results.
If not sure, go to a doctor and get the necessary blood tests done for correct analysis. Blood tests taken too early cannot give positive results. If you are trying to get pregnant, and are noticing any of these changes, how would you proceed? Write to us in the below comment section.
2. Hsiu‐Wei Su et al.; Detection of ovulation, a review of currently available methods; Bioeng Transl Med (2017)
3. What are some common signs of pregnancy; National Institutes of Health (2017)
4. Signs of Pregnancy/The Pregnancy Test; University of Rochester Medical Center (2019)
5. First Trimester; The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (2018)
6. Body changes and discomforts; Office on Women’s Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2018)
7. Headaches in Early Pregnancy; University of Rochester Medical Center (2019)
8. Libby Mitchell; What You Don’t Expect When Expecting; University of Utah (2016)
9. Suzannah Smith; 9 Reasons Your Period Is Late (If You’re Not Pregnant); Texas A&M Health Science Center (2016)
10. Pregnancy: Signs, Symptoms and Health; Regis University
11. Pregnancy; U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2017)
12. Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy; SexInfoOnline (2017)