21 Early Signs & Symptoms of Pregnancy Before Missed Period

Pregnancy Symptoms Before Missed Period & When To Take Home Pregnancy Test

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sanjana Sainani (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
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A missed period is definitely the most obvious sign of pregnancy, but it isn’t the only sign of pregnancy. An egg fertilises and implants in the uterus wall, well before you miss your period. Essentially, you are pregnant the moment the implantation happens. When you are a few days or weeks into pregnancy, the body begins to give indications about pregnancy, even before the menstrual date. The symptoms of pregnancy generally appear during the first week of conception. However, an excited and anxious expectant mother can fail to notice them. Is there a way to know that you are pregnant even before you miss your period? Yes, there are! Read on, to find out.

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Infographics: Early Pregnancy Symptoms Before a Missed Period

Early Pregnancy Symptoms Before a Missed Period

Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy Before a Missed Period

Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy before a Missed Period

pregnancy test is undoubtedly the most accurate way to assess if you are pregnant. However, experiencing a few common symptoms could reveal those first signs of pregnancy, much before a missed period. Here is a list of some early symptoms of pregnancy, which could help gauge if you are pregnant, prior to the agonizing wait to take the tests.

1. Cramps

Menstrual cramps are an early and evident sign of pregnancy. You may experience light or mild cramping if you’re pregnant. These cramps will feel similar to the ones you experience before your periods, but they will be in your lower stomach or lower back.

2. Elevated Basal Body Temperature

Often more accurate than the rest of the symptoms, basal body temperature (your body temperature at complete rest) should be monitored for months to figure out a noticeable change. Prior to ovulation, the body temperature increases and comes back to normal after your period cycle. However, during pregnancy, the basal body temperature tends to stay elevated throughout. This is due to high levels of progesterone during pregnancy, which causes basal body temperature to rise. If your body temperature has been on the rise for over 20 days post-ovulation, it marks the onset of a new journey.

3. Sore, Tender, and Heavy Breasts

Sore, tender, heavy breasts or darker areolas are noticeable pregnancy symptoms, a week before missed period. With rising oestrogen levels after conception, women feel sore, full, and experience acute pain in the breasts. Nipples begin to look darker and feel itchy, tingly or prickly. Then again, these symptoms are not very different from pre-menstrual breast signs, but they will last after you have missed your period too.

4. Exhaustion and Fatigue

Hormonal changes leave you feeling tired and fatigued all the time. Exhaustion and sleepiness are early signs of being pregnant. It is normal to feel tired after doing even small chores during pregnancy. Progesterone levels are to be blamed for an increased tendency to sleep and it will last through the entire first trimester. The body also starts producing more blood to support the growing foetus, which results in increased exhaustion. This can be countered with a healthy diet, rich in minerals, vitamins, iron, and plenty of fluids.

5. Nausea

Nausea or vomiting, a very common symptom, often called ‘morning sickness‘, is a prominent symptom and could indicate that you are pregnant. You might start feeling uneasy and may experience nausea, 4-6 weeks after conception. Due to a rise in the levels of oestrogen and progesterone, you could wake up every day and feel the need to vomit. Nausea need not necessarily happen in the morning. It could appear anytime, last throughout the day, and stick around through all the trimesters. About 80% of pregnant women are afflicted with nausea in the initial weeks of pregnancy before a missed period. The severity of morning sickness or nausea symptoms vary in different women, but 50% of pregnant women feel nauseated within six weeks of pregnancy or even earlier.

6. Food Cravings, Aversions, and Sensitivity to Smells

Pregnancy hormones play a major role in making you crave your favourite food and may also cause an aversion to certain smells. Sudden and heightened sensitivity to smells, pungent tastes, and food aversions, occur during the initial weeks after conception and may or may not last through the entire pregnancy. Some mothers-to-be even lose their appetite before they miss their periods.

7. Bloating and a Feeling of Tightness

One of the most commonly experienced symptoms of pregnancy before a missed period is bloating or stomach twinges and pulls. These are a result of an increase in progesterone. The increased level of hormones impedes digestion, trapping gas in the intestines. A protruding stomach could tighten clothes around the waistline and result in discomfort. Bloating could also lead to unpleasant farts and burps. Healthy eating and controlled portions of food intake could help in dealing with any discomfort.

8. Urge to Urinate

The frequent urge to urinate is another prominent sign of pregnancy. This tendency will only increase through your pregnancy, when the growing uterus starts pushing the bladder. With hormonal changes and extra production of blood, frequent urination is a common symptom that will last through the entire pregnancy. Kidneys work overtime to filter blood, thereby causing an urge to urinate often. Almost all pregnant women experience this urge, which is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. It starts occurring closer to when your periods are due.

9. Mood Swings

Changes in hormones can make you either feel upbeat or very low. Another early sign before you miss your period, mood swings work in mysterious ways, and will have you sobbing over the smallest or trivial issues. The imbalance in hormones affects the neurotransmitters in the brain, causing enhanced spells of emotions, ranging from anger to sudden emotional outbursts. Take some time to relax and rest, if you don’t feel normal.

10. Dizziness

Dizziness and a feeling of lightheadedness is an early symptom of pregnancy, which occurs in several expecting mothers. Blood vessels dilate, thereby causing a reduction in blood pressure, which leads to a feeling of dizziness and imbalance. The symptom lasts during the first trimester and gradually decreases in the other phases. However, if dizziness is accompanied by vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain, you should consult a doctor at the earliest.

11. Constipation

The progesterone hormone tends to constipate bowels and if you find yourself unable to poop, it could be an early sign of pregnancy. Bowel movements harden due to the spurt in hormones and reduce the pace at which food passes through the digestive system. If you feel constipated for over a week after you have missed a period, you should consider taking a pregnancy test.

12. Headache

Headaches are the most common premenstrual symptom. However, with conception, oestrogen and progesterone hormones work overtime to prepare the uterus for the baby. The hormones cause a dip in blood sugar levels, causing headaches, as the brain cells struggle to keep pace with low levels of sugar supply.

13. Aches and Pains

Hormones do the task of making space for the new life inside you, and this impacts the ligaments, which need to stretch. Stretching of ligaments and joints could result in pain in the spinal area before you miss your period.

14. Strange Taste in the Mouth

Hormones could play strange games during pregnancy, and you may find yourself having a strange awkward taste in your mouth, also called Dysgeusia. You could feel like you have swallowed some unsavoury metal. This metallic taste could well be an early sign to tell you that you have started your journey to motherhood. The symptom generally disappears after the first trimester, but could last longer in some women.

15. Excessive Thirst or Ravenous Pecking Tendencies

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself downing gallons of water. An increase in blood volume could make you feel excessively thirsty, even before you miss your period. You may also tend to feel hungry all the time, with the surge in hormones during pregnancy.

16. Cervical Mucus Change

An increase in cervical mucus is an early detector of pregnancy. After conception, the cervical mucus will appear thicker and creamier, and will stay that way till you have missed your period. You may also experience a stinging feeling when you pee, or itchiness and soreness around your vagina.

17. Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath could be an early sign of pregnancy, since the body starts requiring more oxygen and blood to breathe for two lives. This continues throughout all trimesters with the baby growing. Slowly increasing the need for more oxygen and nutrition, as days pass.

18. Drooling or Salivating

Although not a very common symptom, some women do produce excess saliva before they miss their period. This condition, primarily known as ptyalis gradidarum, is related to morning sickness and heartburn. Nausea pangs build up extra liquid in the mouth, resulting in drooling.

19. Hot Flashes

A very common occurrence when your periods are due or even when menopause sets in, hot flashes could also be an early indication of pregnancy. If you experience frequent flushes of heat that last several seconds or minutes, there may be a good chance of you being pregnant.

20. Spots, Acne, and Bumps

An occasional occurrence of pimples and zits is common during the premenstrual phase. Sudden sprouts could be the result of an increase in hormone levels after conception. Well, the opposite could happen too. Pregnancy could reverse the occurrence of acne before your period and it could be a sign that a baby is on the way.

21. Bizarre Dreams

Vivid dreams could be prevalent during the early weeks of pregnancy even before you have missed your period. A peculiar pregnancy symptom, many women experience strange feelings a week or two after conception. Pregnancy hormones work in a baffling manner causing inexplicable dreams and illusions in an expectant mother.

How Soon Can You Experience Pregnancy Symptoms Before a Missed Period?

The occurrence of symptoms varies from woman to woman. Tender breasts, nausea, fatigue, sleepiness, sensitivity to smell, and bloating are commonly experienced symptoms, which start to surface about a week or ten days before your period is scheduled to arrive. The tendency to urinate frequently, generally occurs a few days before the period. Other symptoms like vaginal discharge, change in colour of cervical mucus, darkened areolas take some time to make their appearance, and need to be closely monitored.

Causes of a Period Delay

Period delays could be caused by several factors. There could be a chance that you are pregnant. However hormonal changes, weight gain, weight loss, medication, eating disorders stress, polycystic ovary syndrome, thyroid, birth control pills, or drug use could cause a delay in periods too.

What Is the Difference Between PMS and Pregnancy Symptoms?

Pregnancy symptoms and the effects of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are very similar, and hence, you need to wait a little longer to confirm your pregnancy. A constant elevated basal body temperature, creamy vaginal discharge, and darkening areolas are some consistent signs of conception. However, none of them is foolproof, and the only way to confirm if you are pregnant or not is by taking a pregnancy test. This symptoms can give you an inkling of pregnancy, prompting you to take a test.

Is It Possible to Miss a Period and Not Be Pregnant?

A missed period does not necessarily mean that you’re pregnant. There could be several reasons for a delayed period, such as hormonal changes or stress, and until a pregnancy test confirms it, a missed period cannot be assumed a sign of pregnancy.

Is It Possible to Be Pregnant and Get Your Period?

It is not uncommon for newly expectant mothers to experience bleeding during the early stages of pregnancy. Implantation bleeding occurs 6 to 12 days after conception. It is possible to have light spotting, medium pink or light brown discharge that lasts for a few hours or a few days.  However, if you have an irregular period cycle, spotting could be a mid-cycle glitch, leading to your monthly periods. To confirm that you are pregnant, head to the nearest pharmacist and grab a home pregnancy kit or visit your gynaecologist for a definite answer.

How Long Should You Wait to Take a Home Pregnancy Test?

Early pregnancy symptoms show up weeks before your period, but an average waiting period of two weeks is recommended from the date of ovulation, to take a home pregnancy test. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) is a placenta-produced hormone that enters the urine, once an embryo is implanted in the uterus. This takes place about 6 to 12 days after fertilisation.  hCG levels are picked up by the test, only closer to when periods are due. The ideal time to take a home pregnancy test is a week after your periods are due. There are 90% chances of an accurate result when the test is taken after the due date for the period has passed.

When Does One Start Experiencing Pregnancy Symptoms?

When Does One Start Experiencing Pregnancy Symptoms?

The earliest pregnancy symptoms are revealed 6 to 14 days after conception. Once you have sex during the ovulation period, the body starts preparing itself for the growing foetus. After fertilisation, the embryo implants itself to the uterine wall. You get pregnant around ten days before your periods are due. That is when you start experiencing the early signs of pregnancy such as fatigue, nausea, and tiredness. However, the pregnancy test gives the best results only after a week or two of a missed period, as the level of pregnancy hormone in the urine is up to a reasonable level by then.

How Reliable Are the Pregnancy Symptoms?

Many early pregnancy symptoms overlap with other medical conditions and the normal menstrual cycle. Premenstrual symptoms can resemble pregnancy symptoms. Thus, telling the difference is difficult. It is also possible to miss a period without being pregnant. This can happen if you exercise excessively, lose or gain a lot of weight, or are stressed.

Pregnancy tests are the most reliable way to determine whether you are pregnant. Consider getting a pregnancy test if you have missed your period and suspect you might be pregnant.

Are Home Pregnancy Tests a Foolproof Indicator of Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, the body produces human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which can be detected in the urine. A Home Pregnancy Test checks for the presence of this hormone and declares a positive or negative result. While most home pregnancy tests are considered accurate, it is also dependent on the brand of pregnancy test you choose, as well as the timing of the test. Each pregnancy test brand recognises varying amounts of hCG in the urine. Moreover, hCG levels are low during the initial stages, and gradually increase as the pregnancy progresses. In many instances, you may take the test too early or use a less accurate test, prompting a negative result even when you may be pregnant, also called a false negative result. In some cases, certain drugs, medication, or proteins in the body may cause a false positive result. Hence, it is always best to confirm pregnancy by a doctor, via a blood test.

When to Call a Doctor

The following pregnancy symptoms should be reported to your doctor right away:

  • Cramping that is unusual or severe.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Changes in your baby’s movement after 28 weeks gestation (if you notice less than ten movements in 2 hours) while sitting or lying down.
  • Breathing difficulties or shortness of breath that appears to be worsening.
  • Consistent tightening or pain in the lower abdomen or back 
  • Any bleeding in the second or third trimester (which may be normal after a vaginal exam or intercourse).
  • A fluid leak Severe pelvic or vaginal pressure (Pressure is normal in 2nd and 3rd trimesters).
  • Fever more than 100-degree Fahrenheit and Severe or long-lasting vomiting.

Symptoms and stages of pregnancy have never been known to be common among all women. Some symptoms you experience may be due to a medical condition of which you may not be aware. The symptoms listed above do not necessarily confirm a pregnancy. The indicators mentioned above are just signs to watch out for if you are planning to start a family. It is also possible to not go through any of these symptoms and still be pregnant with a perfectly normal baby. Pregnancy can be confirmed only when you miss your periods, or by a pregnancy test kit, and in all cases, by a blood test conducted by a certified health practitioner.

Also Read:

Pregnancy Symptoms After Missed Period
Pregnancy Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
Weird Early Pregnancy Symptoms
Positive Pregnancy Test But No Symptom

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