Taking a pregnancy test is one of the most common and trusted ways to check whether you are pregnant or not. However, early pregnancy signs before missing your period might give you an indication of your pregnancy.
During childbearing years, a week or more without the start of the expected menstrual cycle might indicate pregnancy. However, this symptom may be misleading if you have an irregular menstrual cycle.
If your period is delayed, it is not necessarily due to pregnancy. Some other causes of a delayed period include:
- High or chronic stress
- Lower body weight
- Frequent and high-intensity exercise
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Early perimenopause
- Thyroid condition
1] What are the Early Pregnancy Symptoms?
The first sign of pregnancy might include significant hormonal and physical changes in the body. The most common one, however, is missed periods. You can take a home pregnancy test and confirm whether you’re pregnant or not.
Below are a few early pregnancy signs you might experience before missing your period. It is important to note that pregnancy symptoms are often similar to PMS symptoms such as:
- Food cravings or aversions
- Bloating and constipation
- Fatigue and dizziness
- Spotting and cramping
1.1] How reliable are these symptoms?
Pregnancy symptoms differ for everyone, which is why it’s impossible to tell whether you’re pregnant based on symptoms alone. Your best bet when in doubt is to take a home pregnancy test or see a doctor if you suspect you’re pregnant and have missed your period.
While pregnancy tests are fairly reliable, you may occasionally get a false-positive. It can happen for several reasons, including having a chemical or ectopic pregnancy or taking certain medications. It is advisable to follow a positive home pregnancy test with a doctor’s visit for a urine or blood test that confirms the pregnancy.
1.2] When does the symptoms start?
Each and every woman is different, so is their ovulation period and the time taken to get pregnant. Some women may experience pregnancy symptoms as quickly as 5 days post ovulation. However, they won’t know for certain regarding their pregnancy until much later. Early pregnancy symptoms also include implantation bleeding or cramps, which can occur almost a week after the fertilization of the egg. Other early symptoms include breast tenderness, spotting, and mood changes.
1.3] How soon can I take a pregnancy test?
You should wait for at least one to two weeks after sex to take a home pregnancy test. This period is the earliest the test will detect levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone produced during pregnancy.
If you take the test too early, it might not detect hCG. Hence, you should wait and test after you miss your period. After getting a positive home pregnancy test, consult with a doctor. They will be able to confirm the pregnancy and discuss further steps in your prenatal care.
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2] 20 Uncommon Early Signs of Pregnancy
While missed periods are a definite sign for you to take a pregnancy test, here are 20 uncommon early signs of pregnancy before missed periods.
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1. Sensitivity to smells: One of the most frequently observed symptoms is a heightened sense of smell. Often this symptom may present as a sign of reduced tolerance in women for all types of odours or smells. While some women may become sensitive to a particular smell.
2. Metallic taste in the mouth: As a result of hormonal changes, some women may complain of having a metallic-like taste in their mouths. This might be a little inconvenient, but it is not a cause for worry.
3. Nausea:Nausea and morning sickness usually starts between the fourth and sixth weeks of pregnancy and can be an unpleasant experience. However, nausea during pregnancy might beworse for some women than it is for others.
4. Sore or sensitive breasts: Sore or aching breasts are one of the earliest changes you might experience or notice during pregnancy. The rising progesterone levels in the body may make your breasts feel tender to the touch or a bit fuller or heavier. This symptom can continue throughout the entire pregnancy period or subside after the first few weeks.
5. Fatigue: Fatigue is common during the early onset of pregnancy due to hormonal changes. Your blood sugar and blood pressure levels are also lower at this time. It is not known for certain what exactly causes sleepiness during the first trimester of pregnancy. But, a steep rise in the hormone progesterone during early pregnancy is suspected to contribute towards fatigue.
6. Lack of PMS symptoms: Many women have different premenstrual signs like irritability, cramps, joint pains, back pain, and acne that suggest their period is about to begin. The absence of these symptoms, however, can repeatedly cause a woman to wonder if she might be pregnant. Pregnancy can most definitely cause the absence of PMS symptoms. However, there might be other factors too that may lead to lack of PMS symptoms.
7. Bloating: One of the early pregnancy symptomsinclude bloating. Your digestive system slows down due to hormonal changes, which can further cause bloating, constipation, or gas. In certain cases, bloating can occur even before the first missed period. During early pregnancy, the progesterone hormone increases to prepare the uterus. This rise in the progesterone level may slow-down your digestion, trapping gas in the intestines and causing abdominal bloating.
8. Headaches: An increase in estrogen level in the body may cause frequent headaches. Similarly, stress and fatigue are also contributing factors that can cause tension headaches. If you feel like taking medication for these headaches, it is advised to check with a healthcare provider before taking any, including over-the-counter pain relievers.
9. Mood swings: Mood swings are an expected symptom of hormonal changes in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Pregnant women might feel more emotional than they usually do due to these hormonal changes. Experiencing these emotions are perfectly normal, but they are worth discussing with your doctor.
10. Constipation: Hormonal changes in early pregnancy can cause your digestive system to slow down, which can lead to constipation during the first trimester. It is a symptom that affects nearly half of all pregnant women at some point during their pregnancy.
11. Vaginal discharge and implantation bleeding: Experiencing vaginal discharge or an increase in discharge are common early pregnancy symptoms. You may secrete sticky, white, or pale yellow mucus during the first trimester. This is often experienced due to increased hormones and vaginal blood flow. There is a high chance you might continue to experience this throughout your pregnancy.
In the early weeks of conception, you may also experience implantation bleeding or light spotting. Implantation bleeding usually happens almost a week before your expected period. The bleeding will be significantly lighter than your usual period. It will take around one to three days for the bleeding to stop.
12. Bleeding gums: Bleeding gums are one of the uncommon early pregnancy symptoms, which is usually caused by the build-up of plaque on the teeth. Some women may get swollen and sore gums, which may bleed during pregnancy. It is normal to experience bleeding gums during pregnancy, so there is no need to worry. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can sometimes make your gums more susceptible to plaque, which can further lead to inflammation and bleeding. This is known as pregnancy gingivitis.
13. Increase in saliva: If you experience excess saliva during pregnancy, understand that it is completely normal. Ptyalism or sialorrhea in pregnant women causes the excess formation of saliva in this mouth – it’s called ptyalism gravidarum.
If you feel like your mouth is filling up with more saliva than usual and more frequently, it might be an early sign of pregnancy. It’s mostly experienced during the early trimesters of pregnancy, in the first three months.
As strange as it may be, there is a reason behind this uncommon pregnancy symptom. Many experts think that this is how your body protects your mouth, teeth, and throat from the corrosive effects of stomach acid, which might be happening despite you not feeling sick.
14. Frequent urination: You will want to pee all the time during pregnancy. This happens as your body increases the amount of blood it pumps, which results in the kidneys processing more fluid than usual, leading to more fluid in your bladder.
15. Light spotting: Light spotting is one of the early pregnancy symptoms. It is also known as implantation bleeding. It happens when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus within 10 to 14 days after conception. Implantation bleeding occurs around the time you have a menstrual period. However, not all women may experience it.
16. Cramping: Some women experience mild uterine cramping early in pregnancy. It may feel like a twinge or sharp cramps that may double over times.
17. Nasal congestion: Increasing hormone levels and blood production cause the mucous membranes in your nose to dry out, swell and bleed easily. This might cause stuffy, runny nose or nasal congestion.
18. Urinary Tract Infection: Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are quite frequently encountered by pregnant women. One of the most common medical conditions, which is observed in pregnant women is Pyelonephritis. It may present or result from inadequate treatment of urinary tract infections. Thus, it is important to distinguish between normal versus abnormal results of both the urinary tract and kidneys, evaluate the abnormalities thoroughly and treat the disease. Luckily, it is easy to treat urinary tract infections in pregnancy.
19. Basal body temperature: The temperature of your body when you’re fully at rest is known as the Basal Body Temperature (BBT). It’s usually measured when you first wake up in the morning. A rise in basal body temperature for around 3 weeks following ovulation may be an uncommon early symptom of pregnancy. However, it is important to regularly monitor your BBT for it to be accurate. Also, cramping may occurs due to the uterus growing expanding to accommodate the growing baby.
20. Missed Periods: This is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. If a week or more passes without the start of the expected menstrual cycle, there is a good chance you might be pregnant. However, this symptom can be misleading if you have a history of an irregular menstrual cycle.
Some other pregnancy symptoms before the missed period might include:
- Hormonal acne
- Stronger sense of smell
- Cravings and aversions
3] Are these symptoms reliable?
Some of the uncommon early pregnancy symptoms are also common symptoms of PMS, hence it becomes quite difficult to differentiate PMS from pregnancy, solely based on symptoms.
Confirming pregnancy based on these pregnancy symptoms before missed periods alone might be a rash decision. Rather these early symptoms could indicate that you should get tested for pregnancy via a reputed clinic or home pregnancy testing kit.
You should also note that certain medications or chemical reactions can also give false symptoms and even false positives on home pregnancy testing kits. This is why you should visit a healthcare professional, who can help you find out if you are really pregnant.
4] How soon can I take a pregnancy test?
It is generally recommended that you should take a pregnancy test after a week of missing your periods. Taking the test too early might not help you, as the test might not detect any signs of pregnancy. The home pregnancy test only shows pregnancy when you are one or two weeks into the pregnancy. That’s when the home pregnancy test will start detecting human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is a hormone produced during pregnancy.
5] When to see a doctor?
After you take a pregnancy test at home and it turns out positive, you should see a doctor at the earliest to confirm your pregnancy and get additional information about what steps and care you should take.
If you are experiencing any of the above early symptoms of pregnancy, such as dizziness, body ache, etc even after a negative test result, you should contact a doctor and get tested to get accurate information and medical guidance.
There’s no way to know for certain if you’re pregnant before missing your period other than taking a home pregnancy test. Some women do experience symptoms like fatigue and nausea, but these could be PMS symptoms. However, if you are still unsure after taking a home test, see a doctor. They can confirm the pregnancy with a urine or blood test as well as discuss the next steps in early prenatal care.
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