During the typical childbearing years of 18 to 35, signs of pregnancy are often obvious and indicate conception. The perimenopause period, however, which occurs during the two to eight years leading to menopause, can produce issues that are similar to pregnancy symptoms. As you go through your perimenopause years, you will be more inclined to wonder which condition is causing your current symptoms.
Both pregnancy and menopause cause changes in your monthly menstrual cycle. In pregnancy, you may experience a light period or some light spotting for one or two cycles after conception. During menopause, the cycles become irregular and can move closer together or further apart. They may become heavier or lighter. The pattern itself changes when it is because of menopause.
Another hallmark sign of both pregnancy and menopause is fatigue. In pregnancy, the fatigue is usually triggered by increased hormones and blood that are going to support the fetus as it grows.
In menopause, the tiredness comes from a roller coaster of fluctuating hormones. In addition, you may find that menopause causes you to wake up during the night. This lack of rest can contribute to menopause-based fatigue.
Several pregnancy symptoms are not shared in menopause. Morning sickness is a condition typically associated with early pregnancy. Breasts that are tender or feel swollen are also usually pregnancy driven. Tender breasts without swelling can also be an indicator of perimenopause.
While many women report their hair becomes thicker and grows faster during pregnancy, the opposite is reported for menopause. Hair loss and hot flashes are hallmark signals of menopause and are both caused by the drop in hormones that your body experiences during menopause.