Perhaps you’re doing everything you can to try to get pregnant right now, including ditching the birth control, spending extra time in bed with your partner, and tracking ovulation.
You may want to know if you’re pregnant as soon as possible. Unfortunately, without taking a home pregnancy test, or getting a blood test or ultrasound, there isn’t a 100 percent certain way to tell you’re pregnant before missing your period.
Nevertheless, certain signs and symptoms could be a hint that you’re in the first weeks of pregnancy.
Earliest pregnancy symptoms before missed period
Below are some of the early symptoms of pregnancy you may experience before missing your period. Keep in mind that pregnancy symptoms often mimic PMS symptoms.
Sore or sensitive breasts
One of the earliest changes you may notice during pregnancy is sore or aching breasts. Your breasts may also feel tender to the touch, or fuller or heavier than normal. This is due to rising progesterone levels in the body.
This symptom may continue throughout your pregnancy or subside after the first few weeks.
You may also notice your areolas (the area around your nipples) darken. This can happen as early as one to two weeks after conception and is often a first sign of pregnancy.
Fatigue is common during the first months of pregnancy. This is due to hormonal changes. Plus your blood sugar and blood pressure levels are lower at this time.
Nausea and morning sickness usually start between the fourth and sixth weeks of pregnancy. You may experience some queasiness before then. Pregnancy nausea is worse for some women than it is for others.
You may notice a change or increase in vaginal discharge in early pregnancy. During the first trimester, you may secrete sticky, white, or pale yellow mucus. This is because of increased hormones and vaginal blood flow.
This may continue throughout your pregnancy as your cervix softens.
You may experience implantation bleeding, or light spotting or bleeding, about 10 to 14 days after conception.
Implantation bleeding usually occurs about a week before your expected period. The bleeding will be a lot lighter than your usual period. It will stop after one to three days.
You’ve probably heard that you’ll have to pee all the time during pregnancy. This is because your body increases the amount of blood it pumps, resulting in the kidneys processing more fluid than usual. That means more fluid in your bladder.
Frequently having to run to the bathroom to pee may be an early sign of pregnancy. This can start as early as two weeks after conception. But you may not have this symptom until the second or third trimester.
Basal body temperature
Your basal body temperature (BBT) is your temperature when you’re fully at rest. It’s usually taken when you first wake up in the morning.
A rise in basal body temperature for 18 days following ovulation may be an early symptom of pregnancy. This method works best if you’ve been tracking your BBT for a while and know what it was pre-pregnancy and throughout your cycle.
If your stomach feels bloated, it may be a symptom of early pregnancy. Your digestive system can slow down because of hormonal changes. This can cause bloating, constipation, or gas.
How reliable are the symptoms?
Pregnancy symptoms vary for everyone. They also are easy to confuse with PMS. That’s why it’s impossible to tell whether you’re pregnant on symptoms alone.
Your best bet is to take a home pregnancy test or see a doctor if you suspect you’re pregnant and have already missed your period.
Home pregnancy tests are fairly reliable. But you may occasionally get a false-positive test. This can occur for a number of reasons, including having a chemical or ectopic pregnancy, or even taking certain medications.
Follow a positive home pregnancy test with a doctor’s visit for a urine or blood test to confirm the pregnancy.
Pregnancy symptoms vs. PMS symptoms
Pregnancy symptoms often mimic PMS symptoms. For example, fatigue, nausea, and breast tenderness can be symptoms of both pregnancy and PMS.
But if you’re pregnant, there may be some telltale signs that it’s not PMS. For example, you may experience implantation bleeding.
This is light spotting or bleeding that occurs about 10 to 14 days after conception, usually about a week before your period would usually start. This bleeding will be lighter and stop after one to three days.
Other symptoms like breast tenderness, bloating, and cramps could be symptoms of either PMS or pregnancy. Until you can take a home pregnancy test, it will be difficult to tell what is causing these symptoms.
How soon can I take a pregnancy test?
You should wait at least one to two weeks after you have sex to take a home pregnancy test. That is the earliest the test will detect levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone produced during pregnancy.
If you take a test too early, it may not yet be able to detect hCG. If possible, you should wait and test the week after you miss your period.
After getting a positive home pregnancy test, see a doctor and let them know. They will be able to confirm the pregnancy and discuss next steps in your prenatal care.
Other causes of a delayed period
If your period is delayed, it’s not always because of pregnancy. Other causes of a delayed period may include:
- chronic or high stress
- low body weight
- frequent and high intensity exercise
- polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- early perimenopause
- a thyroid condition
If you’re concerned about a delayed period not caused by pregnancy, see a doctor. They can offer tests for the above conditions and treatment.
There’s no way to know for certain if you’re pregnant before missing your period other than taking a home pregnancy test.
Some women do experience symptoms such as fatigue and nausea. These could be PMS symptoms, however. If you still aren’t sure you’re pregnant after taking a home test, see a doctor. They can confirm the pregnancy with a urine or blood test and discuss next steps in your prenatal care.