What Are the Earliest Signs of Pregnancy?
Early Pregnancy Symptoms Are Not Fool-Proof
When you're wondering if you're pregnant, sometimes you just don't want to wait for an at-home pregnancy test or a missed period to find out. Thankfully, there are some signs to watch for that sometimes appear before a test will work.
These symptoms are usually caused by the extra hormones flooding your body and some of them are caused by a growing uterus. Unfortunately, many of them are also easily confused with PMS.
These signs, however, are not fool-proof. Symptoms differ for everyone and even from pregnancy to pregnancy. You may experience all, some, or none of them even if you do conceive. The only way to be certain that you're pregnant is to take a pregnancy test.
In the table below are some statistics on the most-commonly reported first symptom of pregnancy. These are the things women usually notice first after conceiving. You'll see that a missed period, nausea, changes in the breasts, and fatigue account for 79% of most women's first clue.
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Most-Commonly Reported First Symptom of Pregnancy
% of Women
Tender or Swollen Breasts
Headaches, Increased Urination, and Cramps
The most commonly-reported (and one of the most accurate) first symptoms of pregnancy is a missed period. Some of these other changes can happen in your body before you miss your period.
Changes in Your Breasts
Often, one of the first signs of pregnancy is sore or tender breasts. Sometimes the breasts may also become swollen. This can also be a PMS symptom but if you don't normally experience tender or sore breasts before your period, you could be pregnant.
Some women experience extra sensitive or darker nipples. Since it doesn't happen during PMS, darkened nipples are a pretty reliable indicator of pregnancy.
Nausea (morning sickness) is another early symptom. It may not always occur in the mornings, and you may not actually vomit. The nausea could last all day, be only after eating, or only be at certain times of the day. Some women never suffer nausea at all.
Heartburn is another common complaint during pregnancy and could be one of your early signs.
Feeling more tired than usual can be a sign of pregnancy. Some women describe it as extreme fatigue, like you've been hit with a truck. This can also be a symptom of PMS, however, and of many other conditions.
You might also feel under the weather or just not feel "right."
Less-Common or Reliable Symptoms
Cramps and Stiffness
You may find that your back is sore or stiff, especially the lower back, and you might have cramping. Lots of physical activity may induce cramps in the early stages of pregnancy.
Feeling faint, dizzy, or lightheaded is another common, early signal. Some women actually faint.
Acne and Metallic Taste
Some women experience a metallic taste and acne as a result of hormonal changes.
Elevated Body Temperature
A woman's body temperature naturally increases during ovulation but drops back down afterwards. Barring sickness, if your body temperature stays elevated after ovulation, it could mean you're pregnant.
Feeling Overly Emotional and Easily Irritated
This is the result of additional hormones in your body while you are pregnant. Again, this can be confused with PMS, but if you normally don't have these PMS symptoms, then it may be an indication of pregnancy.
About a week after becoming pregnant, a few women experience very slight bleeding or spotting that could be pink, red, or brown in color. If you don't normally spot between periods, this may indicate pregnancy.
Sensitivity to Smell
Sensitivity to smell is another early sign of pregnancy. Certain smells will even make you feel nauseous, even ones that you normally enjoy.
Many women are especially sensitive to strong fumes like gasoline or cleaners, cigarette smoke, certain foods, and perfumes while pregnant. This is a pretty accurate early pregnancy symptom if you experience it.
Increased Frequency of Urination or Constipation
As your uterus grows, it places additional pressure on your bladder. This will have you running to the bathroom more than usual. Hormones are usually to blame for constipation as well.
The Only Way to Know for Sure
A pregnancy test is the only way to know for sure if you're pregnant. If you are experiencing any of these, a home pregnancy test is usually accurate about two weeks after conception.
If the test results are negative, wait another week. Sometimes home pregnancy tests can produce false negatives, especially if used too soon.
What Should I Do?
If you believe that you are pregnant, but it is too early to confirm it with a test, take care of your body as if you are pregnant. Early signs of pregnancy should never be taken lightly. Get plenty of rest and eat healthy.
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, cigarette smoke, and drugs. Check labels for any dangers of over-the-counter medications and supplements and start taking a quality vitamin and mineral supplement. Call your doctor if you are taking any prescription medications to see if you should stop or change dosage.
If you are not trying to get pregnant, call a health center to discuss your options. Most likely you will have to schedule an appointment to come in and take a pregnancy test as soon as it will be accurate. Until then, try not to do too much Internet research.