When you think you might be pregnant, every little twinge and ache leaves you wondering whether it could be an early sign of pregnancy. Unfortunately, short of a pregnancy test, there is no way to be sure. Many signs of early pregnancy are similar to pre-menstrual symptoms. If you have several early pregnancy symptoms, and your period has not arrived, it may be time to test.
One of the first signs of early pregnancy is sore or tender breasts, according to Arthur T. Ollendorff, M.D., of the University of Cincinnati. This is caused by a sudden increase in estrogen and progesterone and may occur as early as 10 days to two weeks after conception. The severity and timing of the tenderness will vary from woman to woman and even from pregnancy to pregnancy in the same woman.
Although cramps are usually associated with menstruation, they are also an early sign of pregnancy. They may occur as a sharp pain or series of pains at the time of implantation or as milder cramps because the uterus is stretching. Cramps or pains from implantation are a result of the egg securing itself to the uterus. They are typically felt on one side and are stronger and shorter than menstrual cramps. Pain from the uterus stretching and growing is similar to but may be difficult to distinguish from menstrual pain.
Like cramps, many women experience spotting before menstruation. Unlike most cramps, however, spotting as an early sign of pregnancy appears different than spotting before menstruation. It is usually lighter, both in flow and in color, and begins earlier than other types of spotting. Very pale spotting well before an expected period is often a sign of egg implantation. It is often accompanied by a sharp or crampy abdominal pain.
Fatigue is an early sign of pregnancy experienced by most women. It is caused in part by the sudden preparations being made by the body to grow and nurture the fetus, and in part by the high levels of progesterone suddenly being released. Ollendorf says that “high levels of this hormone may make you sleepy.” In addition, many women in the early stages of pregnancy do not get restful sleep due to hormonal changes, adding to the fatigue.
Higher Body Temperature
This symptom is usually only noticeable if you’ve been tracking your basal body temperature while trying to conceive. A woman’s basal body temperature increases just before or at the time of ovulation and drops just before or at the time of menstruation. An increased basal body temperature for more than two weeks after ovulation is a good indicator of pregnancy. Basal body temperature is the temperature taken immediately upon waking before any activity or rising out of bed.