If you suspect that you may be pregnant but have still not missed your period, I can understand your anxiety.
Whether this is a planned pregnancy or not – you want to know if you are pregnant and you want to know it now. You just can’t bear to wait to miss your period and then take the pregnancy test and see if it comes positive.
If you are wondering what other symptoms you can look for to know if you are pregnant before you miss your period – this is the article for you.
In this article, I have described 11 of the earliest pregnancy symptoms before missed period.
11 Earliest Pregnancy Symptoms Before Missed Period
#1. Tender Swollen or Sore Breasts
One of the first things you may notice if you are pregnant – are your swollen and sore breasts.
If this is your first pregnancy you may notice this more and feel a tingling sensation or pain every time you touch your breasts.
As soon as you get pregnant your breasts start preparing to become the source of food for your baby. They are helped along in their ambitious endeavor by the hormones estrogen, progesterone and several more.
Your breast is made of glands connective tissue and fatty tissue. The glands begin to increase in size as soon as you become pregnant. To help them grow, blood and fluids flood your breasts and this makes them feel heavy and tender.
# 2. Darkening Areolas
The glands that make up the breasts open into ducts in the nipple. Each nipple has around 20 milk ducts.
When your newborn suckles after birth, the milk flows out through these milk ducts into their mouth.
Right from the beginning of pregnancy the niples start preparing to deliver milk to your baby just like your breasts prepare to produce milk.
In tune with the nipple the area surrounding the nipple which is called the areola also starts preparing for breastfeeding.
The areola becomes darker in colour and this makes it more visible.
This probably serves as a visual signal for the newborn to find the nipple and latch on to it.
# 3. Fatigue
In the first few weeks of pregnancy – while you are blissfully unaware – a whole host of changes are happening inside your body.
Your body is working hard at providing the energy your just conceived baby needs to change from a single cell into a ball of cells.
Because so much energy is being diverted towards baby making – you are not left with too much energy to do other things.
All you may feel like doing is sleeping and lying down. This is because of the progesterone in circulation.
If you do feel like that – give in to the feeling of exhaustion and sleep whenever you can. Don’t chide yourself for not doing “work”. Your body is doing enough!!.
# 4. Nausea
Nausea with or without vomiting is something you may experience early in pregnancy. It is often called morning sickness, even though the nausea and vomiting may extend well beyond the morning hours.
As difficult as it may be for you to believe it – nausea early in pregnancy should make you happy because the feeling of nausea is caused by the hormone hCG which ensures that your baby is safe and your pregnancy is progressing normally.
If you are experiencing nausea and you are pregnant – you are likely to have a safe pregnancy.
# 5. Bloating
If you are pregnant – even before you miss your period, your body is likely to be flooded with the hormone progesterone.
Progesterone relaxes most of the muscles of the body – including the muscles of the digestive tract.
This causes the movement of food in the digestive tract to slow down considerably.
Because food is moving so slowly – you are likely to feel full even hours after you have eaten a meal.
You are also likely to feel gassy, uncomfortable and experience heartburn.
If you think you may be pregnant – avoid taking any medicines for these symptoms. Instead eat smaller, more frequent meals.
# 6. Heightened Smell
Pregnancy heightens your sense of smell and you may notice this overactivity of your nose before you miss your period.
Your sense of smell is heightened because of the hormones flooding your body and this serves a very important function.
Your baby is highly susceptible even to mild toxins early in pregnancy and your heightened sense of smell ensures that you smell out toxins and stay far away from them.
You may find yourself unable to tolerate a whole range of foods because of your heightened sense of smells. As inconvenient as this may be – remember that ensuring that you stick to a bland diet is your body’s way of protecting your baby from harmful toxins.
# 7. Dizziness
A lot of women feel dizzy early in pregnancy. In fact dizziness is one of the symptoms that prompts many women to take the pregnancy test.
Dizziness is caused by the hormones in circulation that dilate your blood vessels.
If you feel very dizzy – you must reach out to your doctor for advise.
# 8. Urinary Frequency
Early in pregnancy – even before you miss your period – you may start using the toilet more frequently.
This may be due to your kidneys working over time to keep your body toxin free and the hormones in circulation because of your pregnancy.
You must however, watch out for burning sensation or fever which accompanies this frequent urination. If these additional symptoms are present , the frequent urination may be a sign of urinary infection and not pregnancy.
#9. Cervical Mucus
If you are used to paying attention to your cervical mucus during your ovulatory cycle – you may notice some changes in it as soon as you become pregnant.
The mucus may be more in quantity and creamy for a longer time during your cycle than it usually does.
This may give a wet feeling in your vulva
#10. Elevated Basal Body Temperature
If you are in the habit of tracking your body temperature you would know that your body temperature rises around the time you ovulate thanks to progesterone. And falls when you have your period.
If you get pregnant however, you will find your basal body temperature remaining high and not falling like it usually does.
# 11. Mood Swings
Mood swings are common during menstruation and many women may not associate mood swings with pregnancy for that reason.
However, you may find yourself, upset, confused, anxious and irritable in the days after you conceive and before you miss your period.
How Reliable Are The Symptoms
The pregnancy symptoms that you see before your missed period are rather non-specific and most of them are not reliable at all
The relatively reliable pregnancy symptoms before a missed period are
1. Darkening of areola
2. Elevation of basal body temperature
3. A creamy texture of the cervical mucus
The other symptoms because they are caused by progesterone may be a part of PMS and there is no way to tell them apart
In addition, pregnancy may occur without you noticing any of the above symptoms. So the only way to definitively say that you are pregnant is a pregnancy test..
Difference Between Pregnancy Symptoms vs. PMS Symptoms
It is very difficult to differentiate between pregnancy symptoms and PMS symptoms because both are due to large amounts of progesterone in circulation.
However, most women will have a typical set of PMS symptoms that they have been experiencing for a while and can easily recognize as PMS. If they experience any of the other symptoms they could suspect pregnancy.
In addition symptoms like darkening of areola, elevation of basal body temperature, and a persistent mucusy cervical mucus are relatively unlikely to be PMS and have a higher chance of turning out to be pregnancy.
Read a good book on pregnancy to know more
Other Causes of a Missed Period
Pregnancy is most certainly not the only reason you may miss your period – even though it is the most common cause.
You could miss your period in the following conditions –
Anxiety is a common cause of missed periods. And many women miss periods when they are anxious about work, travel or family issues.
2. Mental Shock
A huge shock – such as losing a loved one, losing a job and so on has an impact on the brain. And since the hormones that regulate ovulatory cycles originate in the brain – a huge mental shock can cause missed periods
3. Psychological Stress
Many women are chronically stressed for various reasons. Exams in students and looming work targets in working women are causes of stress. Stress can also be caused due to abusive situations at home. Many times stress is just due to excessive multitasking and not getting enough sleep.
4. Alternative Medicines
Many alternative therapies can cause missed periods. If you are on some medication it is a good idea to check with your doctor if you have missed your period.
5. Raised Prolactin
Prolactin is a hormone that is produced by the pituitary gland and is responsible for the growth of the breasts and the production of milk from the breasts after the birth of a baby.
Excessive prolactin in circulation inhibits the formation of estrogen and progesterone which can cause missed periods.
There are many reasons why prolactin may be raised, and it is important to reach out to your doctor if you have missed your period.
Periods happen when an egg is released during ovulation and it is not fertilized by a sperm.
In some cases, ovulation itself may not occur. This is called anovulation. And when this happens you are likely to have a missed period.
Anovulation can happen for several reasons and it is important to consult a doctor about it.
Polycystic ovarian disease is a combination of symptoms like irregular menstrual periods, acne and excessive body hair.
The exact cause of PCOD is not known but it is suspected that there is probable genetic component to the disease. And it is also linked to poor lifestyle.
If you have this combination of symptoms – you must reach out to your doctor for help.
8. Irregular Cycles
You may have irregular cycles if the duration of your period varies considerably from cycle to cycle, the flow changes drastically from cycle to cycle and the number of days between consecutive cycles varies a good bit.
There are many reasons for irregular cycles and all of them require medical attention.
9. Cushing’s Syndrome
Cushing’s syndrome is due to high levels of cortisol circulating in the body for a prolonged period of time. The reasons for excessive cortisol in circulation are many. The classical symptoms are a hump between your shoulders, a rounded face and pink or purple stretch marks.
If you have missed your period and have these additional symptoms – you should reach out to your doctor for diagnosis and treatment immediately.
10. Crash Dieting
Your hormones are regulated by the HPA or the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal axis. Sudden decrease in calorie intake due to crash dieting and excessive stress due to exercise can throw your HPA axis off balance. And this can cause you to miss your period.
If you are on a strict and imbalanced diet. Stop and go back to a balanced diet immediately.
11. Wrong Date
Many times women remember the date of their previous menstrual cycle wrong. This results in them expecting their period earlier than it is due. And assuming that they have missed their period.
Is medical term used to describe false pregnancy. In a false pregnancy the woman believes that she is pregnant and is carrying a baby. She has all the symptoms of pregnancy including not having periods. But she does not have a fetus in her uterus.
Although the reasons for pseudocyesis are not well known it is suspected that it has a psychological origin.
Other Causes of Pregnancy Symptoms
Missed periods are the real indicator of a pregnancy and the other causes of missed periods are mentioned above.
Other pregnancy symptoms like nausea, bloating etc can be cause by gastrointestinal causes like gastritis etc.
Fatigue and dizziness can be cause by fluctuating blood sugar levels or anaemia.
When You Should Take a Pregnancy Test
The best time to take a pregnancy test is after you have missed your period. If you have irregular cycles – take the test after the longest duration of your cycle.
Pregnancy tests measure the hCG in your urine and this would reach a sufficient concentration only after the due date for your period is past.
Emotions can range between anxiety and actual panic in the period between suspecting that you may be pregnant and actually getting a positive result in your pregnancy test.
Meanwhile you may look for all the above mentioned 11 signs to guess whether you are pregnant or not.
Unfortunately, all the above-mentioned pregnancy symptoms are predictive only to a certain extent.
The only way to be sure of the fact you are pregnant is a pregnancy test.
If you just can’t wait – consult with your doctor and they may be able to relieve your stress through history, examination and an ultrasound test.