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Is it PMS, or early signs of pregnancy?

Hey girl, are you wondering about the difference between premenstrual symptoms and early signs of pregnancy?

Welcome to my nook of ThriVe+ — Nurse’s Corner. I’m one of the women on the medical staff. You should know the facts about pregnancy signs, so you can get tested when you need to. We’re about women supporting women. And that means getting you the support you need.

Feelings check-in

Waiting for your period can be a stressful time for many of us women, especially when you’ve  been sexually active. While you count down the days until your expected period, many women feel anxious about seeing early signs of pregnancy. Let’s just take a quick sec to breathe. Check in with how you’re feeling right now. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s valid. 

If you’ve been sexually active, you might feel anxious during your cycle. If you want, you can read more about taking control of your future and waiting for the right time to have sex. We get it, and we’re here for you. Looking for a safe space? You’ve found it. Pregnancy, sex, abortion, we make sure you know all the facts. We aren’t here to judge.

So, let’s talk about those pre-period symptoms. You know, the symptoms we all know and love (just kidding! Most of us DON’T love PMS!). For many of us, these symptoms come around every month like clockwork. They’re super common. They typically happen in the days leading up to your period. They can be annoying, yes. But they’re usually nothing to worry about. Some women don’t have these symptoms every month, but on a more irregular basis. A few of these are found in early signs of pregnancy, too. But in general, here are some of the most common symptoms of your period:

  • Cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Breast tenderness, and
  • Bloating

Mayo Clinic, Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Now, onto the early signs of pregnancy. Some of these might overlap with pre-period symptoms, which can make things even more confusing. But there are a few clues that might suggest you’re pregnant rather than just gearing up for your period. These can include: 

  • Cramping
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings (again)
  • Breast tenderness (yep, again)
  • Bloating
  • implantation bleeding (which is lighter and shorter than a regular period), 
  • morning sickness, 
  • Increased urination

Mayo Clinic, Symptoms of pregnancy: what happens first

Pregnancy checking home test after early signs of pregnancy.

So, what’s the best way to find out if you’re pregnant? 

The most reliable time to take a pregnancy test is after you’ve missed your period. That’s when the results are most accurate. There are apps for tracking your period, so you can be aware when you’re late. Some popular period tracking apps are Period Tracker, Flo Period & Pregnancy Tracker, Natural Period Cycles, and Clue.

And hey, guess what? ThriVe+ offers no-cost, lab-quality pregnancy tests. Yep, you heard that right. We also provide limited OB ultrasounds so you can get the answers you need, all in a confidential and supportive environment. The ultrasounds are no-cost, too. Make an appointment when you’re feeling ready, and we’ll get you taken care of.

Have more questions? 

No worries. Let’s go over some of the most commonly asked questions about early signs of pregnancy and period symptoms.

1. Q: Is it normal to experience cramping during early pregnancy?

A: Yes, it can be. Cramping in early pregnancy can feel similar to menstrual cramps and is often caused by the uterus expanding as the embryo implants itself into the uterine lining. However, if the cramping is severe or accompanied by heavy bleeding during pregnancy, it’s important to seek medical attention. Make sure to tell your doctor about your symptoms, if they seem abnormal.

Mayo Clinic, Symptoms of Pregnancy: What happens first?

2. Q: How soon after conception can morning sickness start?

A: Morning sickness, which can include nausea and vomiting, typically begins around the sixth week of pregnancy. However, some women may experience it earlier or later. Not all pregnant women experience morning sickness, and its severity can vary. Don’t wait to get morning sickness if you think you might be pregnant. You can get a pregnancy test at ThriVe+ any time, but it’s most effective after you’ve missed a period. It’s one of the most telling early signs of pregnancy.

Mayo Clinic, 1st trimester: What to expect

3. Q: What is implantation bleeding, and how is it different from a regular period?

A: Implantation bleeding occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus, typically around 6-12 days after conception. It’s usually lighter and shorter than a regular period. You might have mild cramping. While not all pregnant people experience implantation bleeding, it can be one of the early signs of pregnancy.

Mayo Clinic, Symptoms of Pregnancy: What happens first?

4. Q: Can mood swings be an early sign of pregnancy?

A: Yep, mood swings can be an early sign of pregnancy. Your hormones change during pregnancy and that can affect neurotransmitters in your brain, leading to emotional changes. However, mood swings can happen because of other things, too. So changes in your mood don’t necessarily mean that you’re pregnant. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or experiencing a lot of mood changes along with other signs of pregnancy, make an appointment with us, and see your doctor. You shouldn’t have to deal with these feelings alone.

Mayo Clinic, 1st trimester: What to expect

5. Q: How can I tell the difference between premenstrual breast tenderness and pregnancy-related breast changes?

A: Both premenstrual breast tenderness and pregnancy-related breast changes can cause sensitivity and swelling. However, in early signs of pregnancy, your breasts may feel even more tender. They might even feel fuller and heavier. Also, changes in the areola (the area around the nipple) such as darkening or enlargement can be one of the early signs of pregnancy.

Mayo Clinic, Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Mayo Clinic, Symptoms of Pregnancy: What happens first?

Doctor wearing white coat, ready to discuss early signs of pregnancy.

Every person’s experience with pregnancy symptoms can vary. You’re not alone in this. And it’s never too early to get support. Whether you’re dealing with pre-period symptoms, early pregnancy signs, or just feeling unsure, your future is bright. We have got your back, no matter what. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns. Take care of yourself, and remember that you’re in control of your own health and well-being.

Healthy • Safe • Strong

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