Many women experience early symptoms of pregnancy prior to their menstrual cycle. These early pregnancy signs before your period is missed include nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Some women also experience headaches, back pain and abdominal cramps.
There are many possible causes of missing periods. They include irregular cycles, hormone fluctuations, stress, an infection, or certain medications.
Embryos implant around six to twelve days after conception. A missed period is often followed by a positive test for pregnancy, but not always.
If trying to become pregnant naturally or through artificial insemination, then below is a list of pregnancy symptoms.
Early Pregnancy symptoms before your period is missed
1. Basal body temperature increase
If you’re trying to conceive, there are many ways to tell whether you’re pregnant. One of them is basal body temperature. Basal body temperature is the lowest point of your menstrual cycle at which a woman’s ovaries produce eggs. It usually occurs between days 14 and 16 of your cycle.
So, if you notice a spike in your basal body temperature around 10 days prior to your period, this could be a symptom of pregnancy. Raised basal body temperatures during pregnancy are usually caused by an increased level of progesterone. This hormone increases blood flow to the uterus and makes it easier for the baby to grow.
When you ovulate, your basal body temperature rises slightly. However, during early pregnancy, your basal body temperature stays steady at approximately 99 degrees Fahrenheit. This means you can use your basal body temperature to determine whether you’re pregnant.
To find out whether you’re pregnant, take your basal body temperature every morning before getting out of bed. Then compare it to the chart below. If your basal body temperature is above 98.6 degrees F, you’re not pregnant. But if it’s below 98.6 degrees F and rising, you may be pregnant.
US researchers from Pittsburg State University have also found that hot flashes affect nearly one third of pregnant women at some point during their pregnancies.
2. Cervical mucus changes
Your cervix should feel like smooth, soft surface during sexual activity. During intercourse, it should remain closed and firm – not too thin, nor too thick.
If you notice any changes in your cervical mucus, talk to your doctor about what could be causing it. You might want to consider taking some extra precautions during sex while pregnant.
3. Cramping and abdominal pain
Ectopic pregnancies are rare, but when they occur, it’s important to know what to do. A woman who experiences cramping and lower abdominal pain could be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. This type of pregnancy occurs outside the uterus, usually inside one of the fallopian tubes. If you notice bleeding or blood clots, seek medical attention immediately.
The most common symptoms include cramping, nausea, vomiting, and light vaginal bleeding. However, some women experience no symptoms at all. In fact, many women don’t even realize they’re pregnant until they start having regular periods again.
If you suspect you might be pregnant, make sure you see your doctor. You can perform a home test kit to check for early pregnancy symptoms.
4. Breast tenderness, swelling or tingling
Breast tenderness, painful or swollen breasts during pregnancy are common and normal. But there’s a difference between breast tenderness and breast enlargement — and it’s important to know what causes each.
The most common cause of breast tenderness is hormonal changes during pregnancy. This usually happens around four months into the pregnancy, and it tends to happen more often in women who have had children already.
While some women experience breast tenderness throughout their entire pregnancies, others feel better once their baby is born. In fact, many women report feeling less discomfort after giving birth.
Another possible cause of breast tenderness is breastfeeding. During lactation, milk production increases, causing breasts to swell and become tender. Some women find that breastfeeding relieves their symptoms.
Other reasons for breast tenderness include thyroid problems, fibroids, cysts, cancer and infections. If you notice any unusual lumps or bumps in your breasts, see your doctor immediately.
If you’re experiencing breast tenderment, don’t panic. You’ll likely be fine. However, if your breasts continue to hurt or swell even after your baby is born, contact your health care provider.
5. Early Spotting and implantation bleeding
Spotting during pregnancy is fairly common and is one of the earliest signs of being pregnant. In fact, some people experience spotting up to three times per week. If you are experiencing heavy bleeding, however, there are things you can do to help make sure everything goes smoothly.
The good news is that most women don’t experience much bleeding during early pregnancy. When you’re expecting, your uterus grows rapidly, and the lining of your womb becomes thicker and heavier. This causes blood vessels deep inside your body to expand, making it easier for blood to flow out of your cervix. As a result, spotting is often associated with ovulation.
If you notice changes in your menstrual cycle, such as irregular periods, lighter flow, or no period at all, speak with your doctor. Early spotting is usually nothing to worry too much about, but if you notice heavy bleeding, call your doctor right away.
6. Tiredness and Fatigue
Hormonal shifts occur during pregnancy, causing tiredness and fatigue. Women often feel hungrier than usual because hormones are affecting appetite. They also tend to eat less and consume fewer calories than normal. This combination leads to weight gain and increased body fat.
A healthy diet, however, can help counteract some of the effects of pregnancy. Eating plenty of high-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and lean protein sources such as fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, and low-fat dairy products can keep you feeling full longer and reduce cravings.
7. Morning Sickness
Morning sickness is a very common side effect of pregnancy. You might feel nauseous every day during the first trimester, especially around noon.
Morning sickness (also known as nausea) occurs when pregnant women experience an unpleasant feeling in their stomachs.
Some women experience nausea for the entire nine months while others don’t even notice it until later in the second trimester. It usually starts between weeks 6-12 of pregnancy and lasts until around week 20. Most people feel nauseous at least once during this period.
The most common symptoms of morning sickness include:
• Nausea – Feeling sick or queasy
• Vomiting – Passing out small amounts of vomit
• Headaches – Aching head
It is largely believed to be caused by an increase in hormone levels in your body, specifically human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is needed to develop the placental tissue.
If you’re pregnant and experiencing severe morning sickness, there are many things you can do to help ease the symptoms.
8. Urinating more often
If you’re pregnant and experience frequent urination, it could be because your body is adjusting to the hormonal changes that come along with being pregnant.
As your uterus grows and presses against your bladder, coupled with rising progesterone levels, it causes frequent urination (or at least it did for me).
But there are some things you can do to make sure you’re not having problems.
The most important thing to remember is that frequent urination isn’t a sign of something wrong with your baby. In fact, it’s quite common.
About 60% of women experience increased frequency of urination during early pregnancy, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Some women also experience constipation during pregnancy.
And while many people find this to be annoying, it’s actually pretty normal.
What Is Normal Urination Frequency During Pregnancy?
Frequent urination during pregnancy is usually caused by hormones. As your body prepares to produce a human, it produces certain chemicals called prostaglandins, which cause your bladder to contract.
This helps keep urine out of your urethra, where it might leak into your vagina. When you’re pregnant, however, those same hormones cause your uterus to grow, and that growth causes pressure on your bladder.
So even though you’re producing less urine overall, you still feel the urge to go every few hours.
How Often Should You Go To The Bathroom During Pregnancy?
You’ll want to check in with your doctor about how frequently you should pee during pregnancy.
Some doctors recommend checking in once per hour, others say twice, and still others suggest three times. Your doctor will likely tell you to aim for somewhere around 2-3 times per day.
So if you think you’re experiencing frequent urination, talk to your OB/GYN about it. They can help figure out whether it’s related to your pregnancy and what you can do about it.
9. Mood swings
Mood swings may occur during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. They’re normal, but they can be uncomfortable. Mood swings include feeling happy, sad, angry, anxious, depressed, excited, etc.
Mood swings do not necessarily mean that you are pregnant. However, they may indicate that you are experiencing hormonal imbalances during pregnancy.
If you experience mood swings while you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about possible causes such as stress, anxiety, depression, thyroid problems, or other medical conditions.
10. Areolas get darker
Darkened areola is a very common symptom of pregnancy. This happens because hormones cause the skin around the nipples to become thicker and darker. Pregnant women usually notice this change during the second trimester.
The areola gets darker due to increased blood flow. In addition, it becomes harder to distinguish the nipple from the surrounding area.
Once you give birth, the areola returns to its original color. However, some women continue to experience darkening of the areola even after giving birth.
11. Sensitivity to Smells
The human body produces a number of hormones during pregnancy, including progesterone, estrogen, and relaxin.
These hormones cause changes in the way we perceive smells. Sometimes, pregnant women experience a strong urge to urinate, and it turns out that this is because the hormone relaxin causes our noses to become less sensitive to odors.
This is why some women feel like they have a heightened sense of smell and can detect a scent even though there isn’t one present.
12. Food aversions
The smell of food can trigger nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in pregnant women. A study published in the journal Pregnancy found that pregnant women often report experiencing “food aversions,” where they feel nauseous and ill just because they ate something.
This happens most frequently around week 20 of gestation.
Your body will react differently to certain smells. Some people find the scent of roses nauseating while others love it.
If you’re one of those people who loves the smell of roses, it could help explain why some people hate the smell of fish.
Most people don’t realize how much their nose actually affects their health. For example, a person can detect the difference between the odor of ammonia and chlorine, even though both chemicals are odors we can’t smell.
The pain of a headache isn’t just physical; it can also affect your mood.
In fact, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “headache disorders include many different types of symptoms.” Some people experience headaches every day, while others might suffer from one once or twice per month.
Migraine headaches are among the most common forms of primary headaches, affecting about 15% of women and 5% of men. Other types of headaches include cluster headaches, tension headaches, sinus headaches, and postpartum headaches.
While some headaches occur without warning, others come on gradually over several hours or days. A migraine attack usually begins with mild to moderate discomfort, followed by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and sometimes vision problems.
For some people, a migraine attack lasts less than 24 hours, while others may experience a longer bout of intense head pain.
There are medications and lifestyle changes you can try to treat your headaches.
14. Mettalic taste in your mouth
The metallic taste is usually caused by changes in hormone levels, particularly estrogen, which controls and moderates the sense of taste. As estrogen levels rise, they can cause a sour or metallic taste.
A metallic taste (known as Dysgeusia) is common in the first few months of pregnancy.
You can’t stop the sour taste in your throat, but you can lower the problem by eating tart, acidic food, and gargling with a solution of water with salt or baking soda.
Because taste and smell are so closely related, you may find your ability to smell also changes.
Pregnancy symptoms vs. PMS symptoms
The most common symptom of pregnancy is missed periods. However, some women experience similar symptoms during their menstrual cycles — including breast tenderness, bloating, and cramps.
If you think you are pregnant, it’s important to see a doctor immediately. But there are many things that can cause similar symptoms.
In fact, up to 80% of women experience some form of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which includes symptoms such as depression, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, fatigue, food cravings, acne, headaches, and breast tenderness.
What else causes a late period besides pregnancy?
Pregnancy is not the only thing that can cause a late period. There are a variety of other potential causes, including:
- Stress: Stress can interfere with the hormones that control your menstrual cycle, leading to a delayed or missed period.
- Illness: An illness can also disrupt your menstrual cycle and cause a delayed or missed period.
- Travel: If you’ve recently traveled, this could also affect your menstrual cycle and lead to a late or missed period.
- Birth Control Pills: If you’re on birth control pills, it’s possible that they could be causing your late period. Speak to your doctor about this possibility.
- Antipsychotics: Antipsychotic medications may be associated with menstrual irregularities including amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), oligomenorrhoea (fewer than eight periods per year) and polymenorrhoea (more than eight periods per year). These conditions often occur during the first few months of treatment but may persist throughout therapy. The risk of these side effects increases when the dose of medication is increased.
- Weight Gain or Loss: Another possibility is that your weight gain or loss could be disrupting your hormones and affecting your menstrual cycle. If you’ve recently lost a lot of weight or experienced rapid weight gain, that could definitely be the cause of your late period.
If you’re experiencing a late period and are concerned about your fertility, it’s best to see a doctor who can help figure out the underlying cause.
When can I take a home pregnancy test?
Most home pregnancy tests work within 3 to 4 days of ovulation. This means that it takes about 2 weeks for a woman to know whether she is pregnant or not.
However, a negative test does not necessarily mean that you are definitely not pregnant. There are many reasons why a negative test could occur.
For example, there may be too little hCG in your urine sample. Your body may produce less hCG because you are sick. You may have had sex during the window where conception usually occurs. Or, you may have been exposed to certain medications that affect fertility.
If you are positive, call the doctor immediately. If you are unsure, wait until you see your doctor. False negatives do happen more often than false positives, but they still happen very rarely.
When to see a doctor if you’re newly pregnant
One way to confirm that you’re pregnant is by taking a positive pregnancy test – which has a 99.9% accuracy. Pregnancy tests can sometimes give false positives, so it’s important to visit a doctor to do a blood test that will determine conclusively that you’re pregnant.
In rare cases, people can even experience a false pregnancy (Pseudocyesis), which occurs when someone firmly believes themself to be pregnant but isn’t.
Your first prenatal visit will include both a physical examination and other tests. You’ll likely receive instructions about what to eat and drink, and how much exercise you can do.
If you’ve been trying to conceive, you might be asked questions about your menstrual cycle and sexual activity.
A blood test will check for diseases such as HIV and syphilis. An ultrasound exam will look inside your uterus to make sure it’s healthy.
You’ll probably spend most of your prenatal visit talking with your doctor about things like your medical history, family health issues, and lifestyle habits.
He or she will ask about anything unusual you’ve experienced, including morning sickness, fatigue, headaches, abdominal pain, changes in bowel movements, vaginal bleeding, spotting, cramps, or breast tenderness. You may be given a list of questions to answer.
The length of your visit depends on whether you are having a routine prenatal visit or one specifically related to something you want to know more about.
In either case, you’ll typically spend less than an hour with your provider.
What Precautions should be taken in early pregnancy?
Folic acid is important during the early stages of pregnancy. This vitamin helps prevent birth defects such as neural tube defects like spina bifida. In addition to folic acid, women are advised to avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. These habits increase the risk of miscarriage.
They also affect the health of the fetus. Women are also encouraged to make changes to their diet, including eating lots of fruits and vegetables.
A balanced diet rich in whole grains, legumes, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, and soy products is recommended.
Your doctor will tell you what you can eat and drink during the first trimester of pregnancy. You must follow his instructions carefully. If you do not, you could run into problems.
For example, it is best to avoid coffee because it contains caffeine. Too much caffeine can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, and palpitations. Other foods high in caffeine include chocolate, cola drinks, and tea.
Avoid caffeinated beverages and food items such as chocolate, cola drinks, and tea. Some studies suggest that caffeine consumption during pregnancy increases the risk of premature labor and low birth weight babies.
However, there is no conclusive evidence about caffeine use during pregnancy.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women consume 400 to 600 micrograms of folate per day. This amount is equivalent to one daily multivitamin supplement containing 0.4 mg of folic acid.
Pregnant women who smoke should try to stop smoking. Smoking increases the risk of miscarriage. Alcohol intake is discouraged during pregnancy. Drinking even small amounts of alcohol while pregnant can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome.
If you plan to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about taking prenatal vitamins. He or she will recommend the right dosage for you. Ask your doctor whether you should take additional vitamins during pregnancy.
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