When do Pregnancy Symptoms Start?

Pregnancy symptoms and PMS can feel remarkably similar.  Some women may notice pregnancy symptoms as early as a few days after ovulation.  It is hard to say if these symptoms are actually due to pregnancy though.  These symptoms might include tender breasts, moods swings, bloating or frequent urination.  Unfortunately, some of these symptoms are also the same symptoms a woman might have even if she were not pregnant.

Symptoms that feel like pregnancy but are not pregnancy related

Progesterone levels increase after ovulation.  This increase in progesterone may cause you to feel symptoms similar to pregnancy symptoms.  While these early symptoms could be due to pregnancy, they might not actually be pregnancy related.  If you notice symptoms before implantation could have occurred, the symptoms are likely due to normal hormonal changes that take place after ovulation rather than pregnancy.  Women just coming off of birth control may be more sensitive to these hormonal changes.  It is quite common for women who recently stopped taking the pill to have what feels like pregnancy symptoms, especially during their first ovulatory cycle.

Progesterone is a hormone that helps thicken the lining of your uterus and prepares your body for implantation. Progesterone plays an important role in the menstrual cycle and also during pregnancy.  When you are pregnant, you have higher levels of estrogen and progesterone.  These hormones are part of what causes typical pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, bloating, and breast tenderness.  Progesterone levels are what keep you from menstruating when you are pregnant and low levels cause you to menstruate when you are not.  Progesterone also helps stimulate breast tissue growth and keeps your uterus from contracting in early pregnancy.

If you are not pregnant, your progesterone levels will drop off and menstruation will occur.  You may notice PMS symptoms about a week before menstruation occurs. 

Symptoms you might notice in early pregnancy

Intense PMS symptoms can be a sign of pregnancy.  Some women notice cramping when implantation occurs or slight bleeding as a result of implantation.  If you notice slight spotting or bleeding several days before your period is expected to arrive, this could be a result of implantation.  Even though women think of cramping as a PMS symptom, it can also be an early pregnancy symptom, especially if accompanied with light spotting.

Other early pregnancy symptoms include a missed period, mood swings, nausea, frequent urination, breast changes, and fatigue.  Women don’t always start having symptoms right away and some women don’t notice any of the typical early pregnancy symptoms.  You may not have symptoms like morning sickness or breast changes until you are 6-8 weeks pregnant and it is not abnormal to have no symptoms at all in the beginning of your pregnancy.

For women who have been pregnant before, it may be easier to distinguish pregnancy symptoms from PMS symptoms.  If you have never been pregnant though, it may be very difficult to tell the difference.  The best way to know for sure is to take a pregnancy test.

Are you pregnant?  Use JM's Due Date Calculator to find out when you are due.

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