Is it your period or are you pregnant? Here's how to tell the difference.
Posted February 25
If you’re trying to get pregnant, you might feel excitement and anxiety when that time of the month rolls around. You’ve researched early pregnancy symptoms and at-home pregnancy tests that will give you the earliest results. But, be careful about getting ahead of yourself.
These seven period signs can be mistaken for pregnancy symptoms, and here is how to tell the difference between them:
Symptom #1: Spotting
Spotting can occur when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall. It takes about two weeks for it to travel from the fallopian tube (where conception occurs) to the uterus, so you might start to see blood at around the time you expect your period. For this reason, some women might mistake implantation bleeding for their period. But, implantation bleeding is typically lighter and shorter than a period.
Symptom #2: Fatigue
Fatigue is one of the first pregnancy symptoms many women experience. Your energy levels can drop just one week after conception - before you’ve even missed your period. There is a difference between the fatigue you experience during your cycle and when you're pregnant. It is more drastic when you become pregnant, according to Dr. Robert Atlas, OB/GYN. But don’t worry, this fades slightly during the second trimester.
Symptom #3: Cramps
Some women experience cramps a few days before their period, and you can also cramp early in pregnancy. The difference is the duration. Menstrual cramps can last a few days to the entire length of your period, while pregnancy cramps last anywhere from a weeks to months. You might also notice a difference in how they feel. Pregnancy cramps feel like light period cramps in your lower back and stomach versus the raging pain in the abdomen your period causes.
Symptom #4: Cravings
There is a big difference between wanting something and needing something. Pregnancy cravings make you feel like you need whatever it is you're craving. “You may wake up with a craving for an ice cold root beer or a Chipotle burrito and you will do almost anything to satisfy these cravings,” according to New Health Guide. Husbands, when your pregnant wife asks for chocolate ice cream at two in the morning, just get her some without question.
Symptom #5: Tender breasts
Hormone changes during your period can cause breast swelling. If it’s pain from your menstrual cycle, your breast tissue might feel bumpy and dense, especially in the outer areas. You’ll notice large lumps in your breasts, which disappear once your period starts. If it’s a pregnancy symptom, your breasts might feel heavy, sore and tender, and your areolas may also become darker. But there's good news: Your breasts will probably stop hurting after the first trimester.
Symptom #6: Nausea
Nausea is a prevalent pregnancy symptom, but some women experience it during premenstrual syndrome (PMS), too. However, it is less common to feel sick during your period,so if you're feeling a bit queasy, you might want to take a pregnancy test.
Symptom #7: Mood swings
Your cycle and pregnancy will always change your hormone levels, so mood changes are bound to happen with both. If you’re pregnant, you might experience mood swings between six and ten weeks. If you start feeling moody shortly before you expect your period, you can assume it's PMS, and there's no shame in that.
The best way to discover if you’re pregnant is to take a test. And if you aren't trying, knowing the symptoms can ease your mind.
Shaelynn Miller is a journalist who has a passion for photography, video production and writing.
Contact her at email@example.com.