Sudden mood swings, nausea, food cravings and swollen breasts… many women experience premenstrual syndrome in many different ways. If you had one or more unprotected sexual intercourses during the last months you might start wondering if these symptoms are simply part of PMS or could indicate the possibility of a pregnancy.
Whether you were planning on getting pregnant or not, these symptoms can cause a source of stress. So how can you tell one from the other? Read this article to find out more about premenstrual symptoms, pregnancy and their symptoms
What is pms?
You have probably already heard of pms or premenstrual syndrome. It is estimated that almost a third of menstruating people has experienced PMS at least once during their cycle. It might have already occurred to you to talk to your friends about PMS and noticed that each one of them lives it differently: some people have no symptoms, some others feel more sensitive than usual or crave comfort foods, some notice swollen and sensitive breasts, nausea, sleep disturbances, digestive disorders, acne, pimples etc.
This is completely normal as PMS brings together a whole range of symptoms, more or less important that we might experience a week or a few days before your period starts.
Most women with severe PMS also have painful periods.
The symptoms are mainly due to a major change in hormone levels in your body. Note that hormonal fluctuations happen throughout the whole cycle.
However, this does not mean that PMS should invalidate you from completing daily tasks. For many years people tended to minimize disabling cases of PMS by saying that some women are simply weaker than others and have a different perception of pain. Fortunately, nowadays we know that experiencing strong PMS symptoms could uncover serious diseases such as fibroid, ovarian lesions or even cancer.
How to differentiate premenstrual symptoms from pregnancy?
If you are worrying about a possible pregnancy, whether it was desired or not, you might wonder if your symptoms are just PMS. Pregnancy and premenstrual syndrome symptoms are very similar, however there are very specific signs that can give you a more precise idea of what you are experiencing.
Some common pregnancy symptoms are:
High sensitivity to smells: it’s one of the most well known pregnancy symptoms. During pregnancy the hormones interfere with our smell perception so that you might feel even nauseous or be bothered by a smell that didn't bother you before
Frequent urge to urinate: because during pregnancy the blood supply to the bladder increases, you might feel like needing to go to the toilet more
Nausea with or without vomiting: experiencing nausea is pretty common both during pregnancy and pms, however nausea related to pregnancy tends to show up later on due to high levels of HCG hormones. You might also experience a change in your sense of taste, which will make you avoid certain foods
Breast swelling: If you notice that your breasts are swelling, it might be a more evident pregnancy symptom. However some people also experience breast swelling as a PMS symptom
Appetite increase: while for PMS you might find yourself craving comfort food, while craving a specific kind of food could indicate that you might be pregnant
A high basal temperature: if you are familiar with the symphothermic method, you might already know that a few days before menstruation, your basal temperature drops a little, if it’s pretty high or higher than usual, this could indicate that you might be pregnant
However, there are also less common symptoms that might indicate a pregnancy, such as:
Implantation bleeding: 6 to 12 days after fertilization you might notice some light spotting or bleeding, it is due to the egg attaching to the uterus lining
Bloating: Hormonal changes due to pregnancy might leave you feeling bloated. Bloating is also a common symptom of PMS
Constipation: Hormonal changes slow the digestive system
Nasal congestion: As the hormone levels and blood production increases, the mucous membranes thicken causing stuffy or runny nose
Cramps: cramps are most commonly associated to pms, however some people could experience uterine cramping during the first few weeks of pregnancy
Shortness of breath: while developing, the embryo needs a lot of oxygen, this is the reason why you might experience difficulty breathing.
Late period: am I necessarily pregnant?
Don’t worry, having a small delay in your period is completely normal and could be caused by several factors.
Remember to stay calm and not put excessive stress on you, if you think that you might be pregnant take a pregnancy test, however beware that tests found in pharmacies or stores are never 100%. This is mainly because store-bought tests can detect the level of HCG present in the urine not until at least 9/10 days after concievement. To have a definite answer, you should take a blood test and an ultrasound with your doctor or gynecologist.
How do you tell the difference between period pain and early pregnancy, in other words, how do you know if it is symptoms of period pain or pregnancy?
Pregnancy bleeding is usually very light: it is only a few drops or even light red to brownish traces at the bottom of your panties. Conversely, painful periods are generally associated with heavier and, at least, very red bleeding.
In addition, pregnancy cramps can last several weeks, while those related to menstruation disappear with the end of them.
Some women may experience hot flashes before their period arrives. It is even a fairly common symptom of PMS! Also, you do not have to worry, it does not necessarily mean that you are pregnant.
We hope this article has helped you answer the question “Period symptoms or pregnancy?” What difference(s)? As you have seen, even if some signs are quite similar, they can nevertheless be dissociated.
Anyway, if you have the slightest doubt, do not hesitate to consult your doctor or your gynecologist. Only he can reassure you and, if necessary, take the situation in hand and prescribe an appropriate treatment!
If you are still unsure about the possibility of pregnancy or PMS, and to be ready for a period or for the “surprises” that come with pregnancy, check out our collection of period panties made for every phase of your life and every day of your cycle.