Fertility

PMS or Pregnancy: How to Know?

Team Peanut
Team Peanutlast month6 min read

The hormonal ups and downs leading up to your period can also feel like early pregnancy. We’ll take you through how to know if it’s PMS or pregnancy.

PMS or Pregnancy

Tender breasts?











Exhaustion?

Moodiness?

Wait a minute… Am I pregnant?

The hormonal fluctuations that come with PMS can feel a lot like early pregnancy symptoms.

And, we hear you, it can be pretty tricky to know the difference.

So, what is the difference?

We’ll shed some light on how to know if it’s PMS or pregnancy.

In this article: 📝

  • Can PMS feel like early pregnancy?
  • How to Know if it’s PMS or Pregnancy
  • Early pregnancy symptoms
  • How do I know if I’m pregnant or just PMS?

Can PMS feel like early pregnancy?

Everyone’s experiences of PMS and early pregnancy are different.
PMS — or premenstrual syndrome — takes place in the second half of your period cycle, especially in the five days leading up to your period.

Some common PMS symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness

But hey, those are also all common symptoms of early pregnancy!

If you’re in that two-week wait period that could come before either your period or a positive pregnancy test, it’s normal to be very confused about your symptoms.

Let’s take a look at the symptoms common to both PMS and pregnancy, and which are unique to early pregnancy.

How to Know if it’s PMS or Pregnancy

Early pregnancy and PMS share a few signs and symptoms.

Here are the main ones:

Fatigue

Fatigue is common in both PMS and early pregnancy, and in both cases it can be mostly blamed on progesterone.

High levels of this hormone can make you feel very tired.

In a typical menstrual cycle, your progesterone peaks about a week before your next period. This is why you might feel extra tired when you have PMS.

When you get your period, your levels of progesterone drop significantly.

The funny thing about this is that this drop can also lead to fatigue.

Low progesterone levels can lead to less restful sleep, which makes you wake up feeling less refreshed.

For most people, the fatigue ends when your period begins.

But if you have really heavy periods, the fatigue can last as long as the period itself.

If you are pregnant, your progesterone levels remain high, meaning the sleepiness continues.

Plus, you are now busy creating your baby, so your body is working extra hard!

Fatigue often — but not always — eases off for a while after the first trimester and then makes a come-back in the third.

Breast changes

Breast changes are a common symptom of PMS and early pregnancy.

Pain, tenderness, a feeling of fullness, sensitivity, and bumpy breast tissue.

Again, blame it on hormones!

Estrogen and progesterone are trying to prepare your breasts for a possible pregnancy. If you get pregnant, the changes will continue.

If not, your breasts should return to normal by the end of your period.

Mood changes

Again, it’s the hormones responsible.

As their levels increase or decrease, you might find yourself being irritable, grumpy, anxious or teary.

In PMS, these symptoms should go away after you get your period.

In pregnancy, these symptoms will likely continue throughout your pregnancy.

It’s completely normal.

Worth keeping in mind is that if you’re feeling persistently sad, hopeless, anxious and overwhelmed, you could be experiencing depression.

It’s common in pregnancy and it’s treatable.

So it’s definitely a good idea to chat with your doctor.

Constipation and bloating

In both pregnancy and PMS, hormonal changes can cause constipation.

With PMS, this should ease off when your period begins.

With pregnancy, it’s most common in the first two trimesters, but can carry on throughout pregnancy.

Cramping

This typical PMS symptom is also common in early pregnancy (though they might happen a little lower in the abdomen).

In PMS, the cramps usually subside by the end of your period.

It’s also possible that cramping in the week before your period, especially if it’s accompanied by blood, could be early pregnancy loss.

If you have excessive bleeding and pain — or if you took a very early pregnancy test and it came up positive — it’s worth calling your doctor to check it out.

(And if you need support, we’re here for you.) ❤️

Back pain and headaches

Caused by hormonal changes, back pain (especially in the lower back) and headaches are common to both PMS and early pregnancy and are very difficult to tell apart.

Early pregnancy symptoms

If you really want to know whether it’s PMS or early pregnancy, there are some classic symptoms which point towards early pregnancy rather than PMS.

Read on.

Nausea

Nausea and vomiting is a classic symptom of early pregnancy.

But not PMS.

Typically pregnancy nausea eases off after the first trimester, or halfway through the second trimester.

But sometimes it can continue throughout pregnancy.

Nipple changes

Yes, breast changes are common in both pregnancy and PMS.

So, how to tell if breast tenderness is pms or pregnancy?

Nipple changes in particular are typically pregnancy-related.

In pregnancy, the areola often gets darker and larger.

And this can happen in the first couple of weeks of pregnancy.

Bleeding

This can be a confusing point. In early pregnancy, it’s possible to experience light spotting or bleeding — called implantation bleeding.

It usually happens around ten to fourteen days after fertilization and only lasts a day or two.

Implantation bleeding is much lighter than your period, which helps tell the two apart.

Another tell-tale sign of implantation bleeding is the color — pink or dark brown.

Menstrual bleeding is much heavier and lasts for anything between three to eight days.

Cravings, increased appetite and aversions

Although common to both, the cravings you might experience in PMS are likely to differ from those in pregnancy.

PMS cravings and increased appetite are often for sugary, fatty or carb-rich foods.

But pregnancy cravings usually target very specific foods.

Other foods which are part of your usual diet can be completely off-putting.

Even the sight or smell of certain foods can be intolerable.

And some women crave things that aren’t food, like dirt, clay, ice and even paint flakes.

Called pica, these cravings should be discussed with your doctor.

How do I know if I’m pregnant or just PMS?

You can make a pretty well-informed guess if you’re in touch with your body and know your typical PMS symptoms.

Knowing what the differences are can help you figure out if you may or may not be pregnant.

But there’s only one sure way to find out, and that’s to wait til the day of your missed period and take a test.

We hear you.

It’s not always an easy thing to do, especially if you’re trying to conceive.

If you’re looking for some tips on how to survive the two-week wait, we’ve got you covered.

You can also join the Peanut community to chat with other hopeful mamas-to-be who are in the same boat!

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