A home-based test or one at the hospital can help confirm your pregnancy, but you may want to know if you are pregnant before taking the test itself. From missed periods and tender breasts to dry skin, your body might show some signs that indicate you are pregnant.
In this MomJunction post, we have listed some probable signs and symptoms that might determine your pregnancy. The only symptom that all women experience for sure is a missed period, while the other signs may or may not be experienced by all. So, whether you notice some or all these symptoms, we recommend that you consult your doctor to determine the pregnancy and not rely on these symptoms alone.
15 Signs That You Could Be Pregnant
Below are some of the indications your body could give when you are pregnant. Some women may have a few or all of these symptoms, while some may not have them at all.
1. Missed periods
This is the first sign of possible pregnancy (1).
However, you can miss your period for several other reasons, such as sudden weight gain or loss, regular usage of contraceptives, stress or overexertion, and eating disorders or any gynecological problems (2). Therefore, you should do a home pregnancy test or consult a doctor about seven to ten days after your missed period to know for sure.
If you notice a few drops of blood after one or two weeks of your last period, this could be implantation bleeding. Spotting occurs when the embryo implants itself in the uterus wall (3). But it can happen for other reasons too, and it may not be easy to know if the spotting is specifically due to implantation. Also, not all women experience spotting.
3. Nausea and vomiting
Some women might have nausea and morning sickness as early as three weeks from conception. You might feel nauseous at the smell, taste, or even thought of food. It could be an indication that the hormonal levels are rising, and a probable sign that your body is preparing for pregnancy (4).
Not all women have it so early during pregnancy, and some may not have it at all in the first month.
4. Constipation and bloating
Women might experience gas, bloating, flatulence, constipation, and excessive belching due to the rising progesterone levels, which relax the smooth muscle tissue in the gastrointestinal tract affecting the digestion process (5). This can make you feel full even after small meals.
Pregnancy is not the only reason for bloating. You could have this feeling also due to indigestion, acidity, etc.
5. Sore breasts and tingly nipples
A few women complain of sore, tender, and painful breasts. The areolas and nipples might turn darker, and there could be small spots around the nipples. You may also see some pimple-like white spots around the areola (6).
These changes in breasts could be mistaken to be a symptom of PMS symptom and not of pregnancy, or vice-versa.
6. Frequent urination
In some cases, hormonal changes could increase the blood flow and water retention, filling the bladder more frequently than before. Also, the growing uterus exerts pressure on the bladder, causing frequent urination (7).
This sign could be confusing, especially in the winters, when the cold climate naturally increases your urge to pee. Some other reasons for frequent urination are urinary incontinence and an overactive bladder.
7. Back pain
Your lower back could ache just like how it does before and during a period. The pain occurs around the sacroiliac joint (8).
However, as the pain is like that you get during your period, it can be misleading and may not be a clear indication of your pregnancy.
Headaches can also be signs of pregnancy and maybe experienced early in the gestation period (9). But headaches are so generic that they cannot be considered a standalone symptom of pregnancy. You may check for other signs of pregnancy and see if they are occurring at the same time as the headaches to determine the pregnancy. If the headaches are too frequent or severe, consult a doctor.
9. Irritability or mood swings
You could feel oversensitive, grumpy, and tearful due to hormonal changes altering the levels of neurotransmitters or chemical messengers to the brain. This could result in heightened emotions, both positive and negative (10). But such feelings could be like your PMS symptoms and may not necessarily help in determining pregnancy.
10. Food aversions/cravings
Craving for some foods or developing an aversion to some smells could be a sign of pregnancy. You may have these cravings and aversions at any time during pregnancy (11).
11. Fatigue and sleeplessness
The rising progesterone levels, nausea, and frequent urination could lead to sleeplessness and fatigue. You may feel energetic in the second trimester, and tiredness might return in the third trimester (12).
You may have sleeplessness or insomnia due to other reasons, such as stress, depression, poor sleeping habits, or medications as well.
12. Palmar erythema
In some cases, you may notice redness on your palms, also referred to as red palms. It might occur due to abnormal estradiol (a female sex hormone) levels in women (13).
Some other reasons for this could be genetics, liver diseases, autoimmune diseases, infections, or other lifestyle changes.
13. Nasal congestion
Rising hormonal levels and blood production may affect the mucous membranes in the nostrils and make them swell, dry, and bleed. This could, therefore, lead to a runny or stuffy nose (14)
Just like headaches, nasal congestion is a generic symptom and not unique to pregnancy. Therefore, you need to check this in conjunction with other pregnancy symptoms.
14. Low sexual desire
Research shows that some pregnant women have observed that their sexual desire had come down in the first trimester and then progressively decreased as the pregnancy progressed. However, the evidence is retrospective (15).
An increase in hormonal activity might result in acne breakouts, just like it could happen during menstruation (14) (16).
The symptoms listed above could be the signs of pregnancy, but they can occur due to other health reasons as well. Also, you may not have any of these symptoms and still be pregnant.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are the natural signs of detecting pregnancy accurate?
The natural signs may or may not indicate a pregnancy because they might overlap with the symptoms of other health issues or could happen due to general hormonal fluctuations before the menstrual period.
A home pregnancy test or a blood test is the best way to confirm that you are pregnant.
2. After how many days can pregnancy be confirmed?
Pregnancy can be confirmed as early as a week after a missed period if you are taking a home pregnancy test. A blood test can give you the result sooner. The presence of hCG hormone in the urine usually takes longer time to show than that in the blood.
3. When to visit a doctor to confirm pregnancy?
You may visit your doctor once your home pregnancy test shows positive or if you missed your period for two consecutive cycles. Mostly, doctors suggest you visit around eight weeks of probable pregnancy, or earlier if you have any medical condition or had problems with your previous pregnancy (17).
4. Can you use non-medical ways to confirm that you are pregnant?
Non-medical ways have been used to determine pregnancy, long before pregnancy test kits were not in use. However, they may not be accurate and do not have any scientific backing.
The signs and symptoms we talked about earlier may not be related to pregnancy alone. They may also indicate the start of your menstrual period or may suggest other medical conditions. An easy and effective way to know if you are pregnant is to take a home-based pregnancy test if you notice these signs. Or, you can schedule a doctor’s visit and get a blood test done to determine the pregnancy.
Have you observed any of these symptoms when you were pregnant? Let us know about your experience in the comments section below.
2. 9 Reasons Your Period Is Late (If You’re Not Pregnant); Texas A&M Health Science Center (2016)
3. Vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy; NIH (2018)
4. Noel M. Lee and Sumona Saha; Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy; Gastroenterol Clin North Am (2013)
5. Magan Trottier et al.; Treating constipation during pregnancy; Can Fam Physician (2012)
6. Normal breast development and changes; University of Rochester Medical Center
7. Frequent urination; Rush University Medical Center
8. Jennifer Sabino and Jonathan N. Grauer; Pregnancy and low back pain; Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med (2008)
9. Headaches in early pregnancy; University of Rochester Medical Center
10. Lori L. Altshuler et al.; An update on mood and anxiety disorders during pregnancy and the postpartum period; Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry (2000)
11. C.N.M. NYARUHUCHA; Food cravings, aversions and pica among pregnant women in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Tanzania Journal of Health Research (2009)
12. Cristina A Reichner; Insomnia and sleep deficiency in pregnancy; Obstetric Medicine
13. Serrao R et al.; Palmar erythema; Am J Clin Dermatol (2007)
14. Common Discomforts During Pregnancy; Beaumont Health
15. Pamela C Regan, et al.; Pregnancy and changes in female sexual desire: A review; Social Behavior and Personality, Society for Personality Research (2003)
16. Skin Conditions During Pregnancy; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2018)
17. What happens during prenatal visits; NIH (2017)