Last Updated on June 17, 2020
Do you think you might be pregnant? Take our free online pregnancy quiz to find out if should take a home pregnancy test.
This quiz is based on the most common symptoms that woman experience during the early stages of pregnancy.
Early Pregnancy Symptoms
Without taking a pregnancy test it’s impossible to be certain whether you are expecting or not. However, if you are experiencing some of these early pregnancy symptoms before your regular period is due, then it may mean that you are indeed pregnant.
Breasts that are tender, tingly and swollen are extremely common during the early stages of pregnancy. This is due to increased levels of the hormone progesterone that result in swelling of the mammary glands. This is a common symptom of regular PMS though, so can’t be relied upon, but if you are pregnant it may continue after your missed period.
Darkening of the Nipples (areolas)
Darkening of the nipples, as well as the presence of Montgomery tubercles, are another common symptom of early pregnancy. The Montgomery tubercles are bumps sometimes found circling the nipples.
These bumps form part of the Areolar glands that work to keep your nipples lubricated and during pregnancy, they often become more enlarged and visible as they play a fundamental role in breastfeeding.
If you are pregnant, then morning sickness or simply nausea often occurs between the 4 to 6-week mark, but that doesn’t mean it can’t occur earlier. The exact cause of morning sickness is unknown but is believed to be related to the changing hormone levels during the early stages of pregnancy. Specifically changing levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin.
Increased Urinary Frequency
If you suddenly feel like you frequently need to empty your bladder and more so than usual, then you may be pregnant. A surge in hormones such as progesterone can cause increased urination, which is required during pregnancy as kidneys will be filtering additional waste produced by the developing fetus. In addition, an expanding uterus may push on your bladder.
Abdominal Pain & Cramps
A surge in pregnancy hormones such as progesterone can have an impact on your digestive system, causing it to slow down, resulting in excess gas, constipation and bloating.
As your uterus expands you may also experience mild abdominal pain and cramps. This is common with PMS, but in early pregnancy is common during the first 12 weeks.
Changes in Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal secretions are a normal part of the menstrual cycle, however, during pregnancy changes may be more noticeable. This discharge is called leukorrhea and is typically thin and milky-white.
Throughout pregnancy, there is an increase in leukorrhea production, as it goes on to form the mucus plug that eventually ends up blocking up the cervix. Again, this change is triggered by surges in hormones that occur as a result of pregnancy. Therefore, you may notice changes in your vaginal discharge during the early stages of pregnancy, although alone it is by no means conclusive.
Elevated Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
Body temperature normally increases around the time of ovulation. This is triggered by increased levels of the hormone progesterone, which begins to decrease as you start your period. However, if your temperature stays high and you miss your period, it may be a sign that you are pregnant.
It’s important to remember that even if you have these common early pregnancy symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are pregnant. Every woman is different and therefore will respond differently to pregnancy. The only sure way to find out is to carry out a home pregnancy test and maybe more than once to be certain.
How early will you experience pregnancy symptoms before I miss my period?
The body begins preparing for pregnancy almost immediately after fertilization has occurred, with surges in hormones such as progesterone and human chorionic gonadotrophin being responsible for many changes. As a result, some women can start to experience symptoms of pregnancy weeks before the normal period usually occurs.
These early pregnancy symptoms can be very subtle and often include tender breasts, nausea, fatigue or bloating. Other symptoms are typically not noticed until several weeks into pregnancy and usually by the time you have realized you have missed your period. That includes increased urinary frequency and elevated basal body temperature.
What’s the difference between pregnancy symptoms and period symptoms?
The truth is that many of the symptoms associated with early pregnancy are also common period symptoms. As a result, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. However, the symptoms that are more restricted to pregnancy include changes in the nipples, such as darkening of the pigmentation and presence of Montgomery tubercles. A white-viscous vaginal discharge and elevated BBT are also common symptoms.
However, the truth is that none of these symptoms can be relied upon as a sure sign of pregnancy, they are just indicative. A more reliable way to confirm if you are pregnant or not is with a pregnancy test.