Trying to spot the symptoms of early pregnancy can be very frustrating for someone who is trying to conceive. It’s normal for women to get anxious as they try to distinguish if this change or new symptom actually means that they are pregnant. So when do you take a symptom as pregnancy or just PMS?

The symptoms for the two are so similar sometimes because the majority of them are caused by the same main hormone: progesterone. The combination of fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone are to blame for most of your PMS symptoms. The sharp drop in the first one and increase in the other can cause your body to react in certain ways. The same happens in the first few weeks of a pregnancy, only it’s often more intense than your usual cycle.
The most common symptoms of early pregnancy are:

  • Nausea
  • Tenderness and swelling in the breasts
  • Dizziness
  • Aversion to certain foods and smells
  • Change in tastes
  • Fatigue
  • Cramps
  • Fainting

Most of these symptoms are caused by high levels of progesterone, but they don’t only appear when you fall pregnant.

Towards the end of your cycle, after ovulation, your progesterone levels increase. This hormone stimulates the endometrium, causing it to thicken in preparation for a fertilized embryo. At this stage in your cycle, you could experience any or all of these symptoms as part of your PMS. This does not mean that you have conceived.

How do you differentiate between the symptoms of pregnancy and PMS if they are the same?

This is the hardest part for women who really want to fall pregnant. It can be extremely difficult to tell the difference. The best way to do so is to wait until your menstruation is late by five to ten days. After seven days, try a pharmacy pregnancy test or go to your doctor for a blood test. If you see these symptoms and try taking a test too early, you may get a false negative result. This will only lead to disappointment and frustration.

How you feel the symptoms of early pregnancy and PMS all depends on how much progesterone is released into your body and how you react to it. For many women, the levels of progesterone get quite a bit higher than normal when they fall pregnant. This leads to a higher intensity in their usual symptoms, as well as a few that they might not normally get.

However, this isn’t always the case. You may have high levels of progesterone every cycle, and therefore, your body is used to this. Alternatively, your body may not react any differently to moderate levels and high levels, meaning there’ll be no change in your symptoms.

Remember, each pregnancy is also different. This means that you may have had very strong symptoms for your first pregnancy, but then nothing for your second one – or the other way round. There is no telling how your body is going to react each time.

It’s important to not get anxious or stressed about looking for these early signs of pregnancy. Rather try your best to wait until your menstrual period is late before you start thinking you may be pregnant. Then you can take a test to confirm your theory. If you get a negative result but still no menstruation, wait another couple of days and try again.