When trying for a baby the two week wait between ovulating and find out if you’re pregnant can be stressful. Can’t stop wondering? We have looked into the difference between the most common symptoms to help you to differentiate between PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) and pregnancy.
PMS OR PREGNANCY?
Much of the confusion between PMS and pregnancy is caused by the fact that the vast majority of the symptoms are, annoyingly, the same. Of course, women’s symptoms of each can vary too and some can be very subtle, so it makes it difficult to say for certain what one singular symptom may be.
TYPICAL SYMPTOMS OF PMS
Many women experience the following symptoms when they’re about to start their period:
- Mood swings
- Tiredness/trouble sleeping
- Stomach cramping/pains
- Breast tenderness
- Changes in appetite
- Spotty skin
TYPICAL SYMPTOMS OF PREGNANCY
Many pregnant women say that they experienced the following symptoms early on in their pregnancy:
- Implantation bleeding
- Breast tenderness and changes to areolas
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Frequent urination
- Bloating and constipation
HOW THE SAME SYMPTOMS CAN DIFFER
Below are some of the most confusing and common symptoms that happen both during PMS and pregnancy. We have looked into how these symptoms can differ depending on their cause.
PMS – You can experience tenderness in your breasts just before your period but this symptom tends to be fairly mild and can get better during your period too.
Pregnancy – You can experience the same tenderness when pregnant, however, you may also notice that your breasts feel heavier as well. It is also common for your areolas (the area around your nipples) to change too, they may increase in diameter or get darker in colour.
CHANGES IN APPETITE & CRAVINGS
PMS – When your period is due, you may find you’re hungry all of the time and that you crave things like chocolate and sugary sweet food or carbohydrates and salty foods.
Pregnancy – Whilst your appetite may change when you’re pregnant, it is likely that the cravings you get won’t occur to the same extent. Instead, you can expect to have very specific cravings or to experience changes in the way food tastes or smells.
TIREDNESS & FATIGUE
PMS – Often, you experience tiredness and trouble sleeping when your period is due and you may be irritable because of this. Regular exercise is recommended by the NHS to help with sleep and tiredness.
Pregnancy – When pregnant, you can still experience tiredness but it is more of a general fatigue rather than a tiredness due to lack of sleep. You may find that no matter whether you get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night or not, you feel exhausted.
BLOATING & TUMMY PAINS
PMS – Many women experience issues with bloating but even more so during PMS and it is likely that you will experience cramps along with this bloating, usually 24 to 48 hours before your period.
Pregnancy – Usually, when pregnant, whilst women will also experience bloating, the pain will be slightly different. The cramps are often less severe and are lower in your tummy, you may also suffer from pains due to constipation too.
SPOTTING OR BLEEDING
PMS – This is not typical of PMS, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re pregnant. Underlying conditions including ovarian cysts or endometriosis can cause irregular bleeding. You should speak to your GP about any bleeding that occurs outside of your normal menstrual cycle.
Pregnancy – Implantation bleeding can be one of the first signs of pregnancy. It is typically dark brown or light pink in color and occurs 10 to 14 days after conception when the embryo attaches itself to the uterus. It usually lasts only a few days and is low in volume compared to a period. And its important to remember not every pregnant woman will experience it.
FINDING OUT WHETHER YOU’RE PREGNANT
Keep in mind, while the information above may be beneficial to you when trying to distinguish between PMS and pregnancy, a pregnancy test really is the only way you can be sure what the symptoms you’re experiencing actually mean. So, when you’re trying for a baby, no matter what symptoms you may be experiencing, if your period is late, it is always important to take a pregnancy test.