It can be tantalizingly difficult to work out if you are pregnant before it is time to do a pregnancy test. A much longed-for pregnancy can turn every little symptom into a sure-fire confirmation that a baby is on its way. An unwanted pregnancy can turn every twinge into a tornado of panic that you might eventually confirm the worst.
However, the fact is that many of the symptoms associated with early pregnancy are the same as symptoms of a period. The hormones that govern pregnancy are responsible for premenstrual symptoms as well, and the resulting physical and mental symptoms can be confusing.
Many of the symptoms of early pregnancy are actually false alarms and have nothing to do with any hormonal issues. Because many of the symptoms are so generic, women can easily convince themselves that any queasiness or twinge is a sign, when actually it is a case of overeating or stress. It is horrendously frustrating to have to wait for a pregnancy test if a woman thinks she might be pregnant, but nature will take its time to give the body reliable symptoms of a baby and patience is required! A positive pregnancy test is really the only reliable confirmation.
20 Means Nothing: Acne
Hormones are certainly a big factor in our skin conditions. These hormones are present before our periods, and many women struggle with breakouts once a month. The same hormones are present in early pregnancy, so the signs can be confusing.
Pregnancy causes some women to have clear, beautiful skin without pimples or breakouts at all, so it all depends on how each body reacts to the hormones. Some women get breakouts with their period, too. Even though pregnancy causes these changes, there are many other reasons for breakouts on the skin. Different oils in beauty products and changes in diet can all be completely normal causes for breakouts.
19 Means Nothing: Fatigue
Any woman who has been pregnant knows that fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy. It is hard work growing a baby inside our bodies and fatigue is an understandable result. The increased levels of progesterone in the bloodstream increase this fatigue.
However, there are many other factors that can make us tired: overwork, stress, anxiety, aging and also the onset of a period.
Tiredness can be a symptom of pregnancy of course and often goes hand in hand with morning sickness, which is debilitating in itself and makes the body very tired.
18 Means Nothing: Headaches
Headaches can be a sign of early pregnancy, because of general fatigue and hormonal changes. However, as headaches are so common, this is not a reliable sign. Headaches are a premenstrual sign as well, and so common in everyday life that they might mean nothing at all.
Dehydration, over-tiredness, and stress, as well as food intolerances, can all cause headaches, as well as overindulgence in the alcohol department! If over the counter medications are not working and pregnancy is not an option, there are plenty of other options that doctors can suggest. It could be a sign of overuse of a computer or an issue with eyesight, so you don’t have to do it alone in silence.
17 Means Nothing: Muscle Aches
Hormone changes do lead to muscular aches in the first trimester. This is because of hormonal changes again and is particularly common in the back, legs, and arms.
However, muscle ache can be caused by many things, such as exercise, pulling muscles or general fatigue, as well as being a sign of an impending period. Those confusing hormones can be very annoying at giving us false symptoms according to Babycentre.
Most muscle aches are caused by injury or strain to a muscle or ligament. It could be a sign of arthritis or a ruptured disc and these conditions are not going to go away on their own, so medical advice is needed to avoid further damage being done and to manage pain.
16 Means Nothing: Tearfulness
Those lovely pregnancy hormones are certainly responsible for some very tearful moments in the early days. Hardened women find themselves sobbing at TV programmes or injustice in the world. However, those hormones also create our periods, so the hormonal changes can be just premenstrual symptoms.
Tearfulness can be a sign of other things such as worry, tiredness, or whatever is going on in our lives. If a feeling of hopelessness or despair lasts for a number of weeks, it is worth seeking medical help in case it is a symptom of depression according to Healthline.
15 Means Nothing: Putting On Pounds
In the run-up to a period, many women experience a craving for sweet or heavy foods, and this can lead to putting on lbs. Increased appetite is a common premenstrual sign, as is bloating, so any gain in weight is not a sure sign of pregnancy.
Although women do put on pounds when pregnant, due to the size of the baby and increased blood volume, it is unusual to gain in the early days of pregnancy, unless a woman’s appetite is increased straight away, and she is raiding the fridge on a daily basis.
14 Means Nothing: No Interest In One-On-One Time
There are many causes of a low libido in women. One of these is pregnancy, often enhanced by fatigue and feeling sick. It can also be a sign of many other medical conditions or simply exhaustion or tiredness from day to day life.
It can also be a sign of depression, relationship difficulties, various medications or psychological issues. If it persists, it is worth consulting a doctor to ensure it is not hiding something more serious. It may just be a sign of stress, a bad diet or it could be hormone induced as a result of a birth control pill, according to Paleo for Women.
13 Means Nothing: Trouble Sleeping
Even though early pregnancy causes excessive fatigue, it can also lead to sleep problems like insomnia and vivid dreams. However, having trouble getting to sleep affects most adults at some point in their lives. Stresses in everyday life, sleeping in the day, or an overactive mind can all lead to sleep disturbances.
Sleeping problems can be caused by medication or by anxiety or depression as well. Therefore it is necessary to get medical help if the problem persists, as sleep deprivation can be a serious condition that affects our ability to function during the day. It can cause a serious lack of concentration when you don’t get enough rest.
12 Means Nothing: Abdominal Discomfort
Many women deal with cramps and abdominal discomfort in the run-up to their period. Cramping and abdominal pain are also signs that that monthly event is on its way. Annoyingly, early pregnancy can also cause abdominal discomfort as the embryo implants in the uterus and the body gets used to the enormous changes in that area.
While sickness itself is not a common symptom of PMS, some abdominal discomfort can be expected. If you are not pregnant or expecting a period, abdominal discomfort could be a sign of an infection or food intolerance and doctor’s help.
11 Means Nothing: Lower Back Pain
Back pain is becoming increasingly more common and is one of the major causes of absence from work. Bad posture, heavy lifting or over exercise can all be contributory factors to lower back pain. Many people spend hours hunched over a computer keyboard.
It is important to get back pain treated before it becomes debilitating, to see if there is some treatment that can be effective. Of course, pregnancy does induce back pain, but it is usually later on in pregnancy when the hormone levels are high, and the weight of the baby affects posture and puts extra pressure on the spine.
10 Means Nothing: Food Cravings
Food cravings are a common and sometimes comical sign of pregnancy. Stories of women sending husbands out for gherkins in the middle of the night and nibbling on coal provide great entertainment. However, a craving for certain foods is a common facet of life, and particularly common before a period, as is increased appetite.
Pregnant women tend to crave a particular food later on in pregnancy, although it can happen early on, as every pregnancy is so different. Don’t rely on a desire for cheese sandwiches as a sign of pregnancy, it could be premenstrual or just plain hunger for a cheese sandwich!
9 Means Nothing: Hair and Skin Colour Changes
Hormone levels do have an impact on our skin and on our hair. Rising and falling levels of hormones before a period can give some women regular fluctuations in their appearance. Pregnancy also has these symptoms, as the same hormones are involved in pregnancy.
Changes to hair and skin condition might be a sign of neither of these conditions. They could be a result of dietary factors. A diet poor in certain vitamins or a diet that is not balanced can cause hair and skin to deteriorate. Loss of hair can be a cause of certain issues or of high levels of stress or anxiety, so if it persists, medical help should be sought.
8 Means Nothing: Sensitivity To Light and Noise
Although many women find they are susceptible to sensory overload when they are pregnant, there are many other reasons that this condition occurs. If the condition persists it is worth consulting a doctor to see if there is any underlying cause (other than pregnancy) that can be treated.
If you are not pregnant, these sensitivities could be signs of a migraine if accompanied by headaches. They can also be a signal of something more serious such as fibromyalgia, stress or an injury to the brain. Emotional exhaustion can cause this sensitivity as the brain struggles to cope with the extra demands and the brain tells the body to put out some signals that treatment is needed.
7 Means Nothing: The Girls Are Swollen
Women often complain of swollen, tender breasts in the run-up to a period. This is also one of the early symptoms of pregnancy and can be a confusing symptom if a woman is trying for a baby. They can leak liquid in the run-up to a period due to the hormones that rise and fall.
Breast changes are common in the early days of pregnancy and all the way through the nine months. Changes in breast condition can be symptoms of illness as well, so if there is no sign of a period or pregnancy, medical advice should be obtained, just to ensure that the breasts are healthy.
6 Means Nothing: Aunt Flo Is Late
Many women have irregular periods and envy those who can set their watches by the time their period will appear. Late or missed periods can be inconvenient and distressing, especially if a woman doesn’t know if a late period might be a sign of pregnancy.
While a missed period could be a sign of pregnancy, there are many other causes. If a woman is particularly stressed, hormones are produced in the body that sends signals to the brain that shuts down certain areas of the body to cope with the stressful situation and this can lead to a missed period or amenorrhea, as a persistent time without periods is called, according to Health Prep.
5 Means Something: Positive Pregnancy Test
The most reliable sign of an impending pregnancy is, of course, a positive pregnancy test. Manufacturers tell us that there is no such thing as a false positive test, although a negative test can mean you are pregnant, just testing too early. If you have a longer menstrual cycle than the average 28 days, it is worth checking every three days after a missed period, if you think you may be pregnant.
Modern pregnancy kits can be bought over the counter and are very reliable. The elevated hormones in the body are eliminated in urine, which then reacts to the chemicals on the stick in the pregnancy kit and produces a blue line or text to indicate you are pregnant.
4 Means Something: Constant Elevated Temperature
If you have been trying for a baby, you may be used to taking a basal temperature in the morning to have a good idea if the temperature is increased. The average basal temperature for a human is 98.6 F. If you notice a rise in this temperature two weeks after you have ovulated, this is a reliable sign of pregnancy, even before a missed period.
This rise in temperature only lasts in the first trimester, although some women deal with extreme sensitivity to temperature throughout their pregnancies. The rise in temperature that occurs in early pregnancy is due to changes in metabolic rate as the body struggles to keep up with the increased demands, and also to changes in hormone levels.
3 Means Something: Persistent Morning Sickness
If you are feeling a bit sick in the morning, every now and then, this might not be a sign of pregnancy. However, persistent nausea at any time of the day, most especially in the morning when you have an empty stomach, is a more reliable sign of pregnancy. This so-called ‘morning’ sickness is thought to be the result of increased estrogen in the body, although the exact causes are not known. It is also not known why some women deal with it, while others do not.
If you are dealing with this predicament, it is likely to ease by the end of the first trimester, although some women deal with it for longer.
2 Means Something: The Girls Darkening
Changes in the breasts are one of the early signs of pregnancy. Sore, tender breasts can be one of the symptoms of impending pregnancy as the breasts prepare to produce milk for the baby.
The areola darkens as pregnancy hormones erupt in the body, and all the lumps and bumps around the nip become more pronounced, according to Bounty. The darkening is also caused by the increased blood flow around the body, which is a bodily response to pregnancy. It usually happens at around 6-8 weeks and around 90 percent of women are known to experience this condition or some darkening of the skin in other areas.
1 Means Something: Melasma
Melasma is a darkening of certain areas of the skin, most commonly on the face, but it can also appear on the arms and legs. It is caused by the increased pigment in the skin and is a common symptom of pregnancy that usually disappears soon after the baby is born.
The condition is sometimes called the ‘Mask of Pregnancy’ due to its occurrence on the face giving the appearance of a dark mask, according to The Bump. Even though it is a common feature of pregnancy, it is worth mentioning it to your OBGYN, just so it can be kept under check during the pregnancy.