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The Signs and Symptoms of Early Pregnancy

Updated on March 17, 2013
Know the facts about pregnancy so as to care as soon as you feel these symptoms.
Know the facts about pregnancy so as to care as soon as you feel these symptoms. | Source

Women experience many signs and symptoms of early pregnancy. For years, women have relied on a missed period and the appropriate symbol on the pregnancy test stick to find out they're pregnant. There are also other ways your body can tell you it’s pregnant. Some of these changes happen as soon as the egg implants within the uterine lining. Although these clues are subtle, if you’re in tune with your body you might know you’re pregnant even before a test stick can tell.

Although the following symptoms of pregnancy are reported by many women, you may not experience them. These physical changes are also present as part of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It can be very difficult to distinguish between the two. However, when several symptoms occur close together they can be signs of early pregnancy.

Changes Happen Right Away

Even if a woman doesn't know she is pregnant, her body responds quickly to an implanted egg. Many signs of early pregnancy are attributed to the almost immediate hormonal changes which occur once implantation is successful. As levels of estrogen and especially progesterone increase, you can begin experiencing bodily changes. These changes can be early pregnancy symptoms.



Mood Swings

Women experience mood swings for a variety of reasons, but as progesterone levels rise when you are newly pregnant you might find yourself feeling weepy. PMS can cause you to feel angrier or easily irritated, but lots of tears are good early pregnancy symptoms. If you’re reaching for the tissues, you might be pregnant.

Food Aversions

Cravings for certain foods or bizarre combinations of food are common as pregnancy progresses. However, if you are newly pregnant you might realize your favorite food suddenly tastes strange. This type of food aversion happens quickly but doesn’t last very long for most women. Food cravings seem to take over from aversions after the morning sickness period is over.

While your friends or family might just brush off the above symptoms of pregnancy as being in your head, there are also physical changes which indicate an early pregnancy.

Olfactory Overload

Food aversions can go hand in hand with a suddenly acute sense of smell. Doctors don't understand why this symptom occurs. It just might harken back to a time when a good sense of smell kept pregnant, prehistoric women from eating something bad for them.


With rising progesterone levels, a woman's energy levels plummet. Many women notice increased tiredness right after ovulation, but early pregnancy fatigue is a much more intense, crashing feeling. Another reason for excessive fatigue is the extra blood your body is producing. This extra blood is needed for nourishing the baby and providing enough oxygen for two people. Excessive fatigue is one of the key signs of early pregnancy.

8 Signs Of Pregnancy and Symptoms of Pregnancy


Food aversions, bloating and a super sensitive sniffer can team up to make you feel queasy or even experience outright vomiting. True morning sickness doesn’t begin until five or six weeks into a pregnancy, but nausea right before your period begins might be a clue that you’re pregnant. The cause for nausea can be laid directly at the door of those rapidly rising hormones.


There are very few women who haven't experienced bloating during their cycle. This is one of the early pregnancy symptoms which is tricky, since so many women have PMS bloating. Early pregnancy bloat can last longer than normal, though. As hormone levels rise each day after implantation, a woman's body begins producing more fluids as well as blood. These fluids thicken the uterine lining, causing you to feel puffy, bloated or downright fat. With the additional demand of feeding a newly implanted embryo, your digestive system slows down so more nutrients are absorbed. Slower digestion can lead to constipation, which is exacerbated if you take prenatal vitamins. A woman's system is finely tuned and although the addition of some fluid and blood doesn't seem like much, you'll notice if your jeans zip easily or not.



Another condition to add to the list of early pregnancy symptoms is headaches. Migraines can be triggered by an increase in estrogen. Estrogen causes a restriction of blood vessels, leading to pounding headaches. Women also experience these hormonal headaches around ovulation. Headaches which persist after ovulation are additional symptoms of pregnancy.

Frequent Urination

Later in pregnancy, as the baby develops and puts pressure on a woman's bladder, she finds herself needing to use the bathroom more often. Some women feel they live in the bathroom early on in their pregnancy, too. When progesterone floods a woman's system, the bladder tends to relax. This cues the brain into thinking the bladder is full. Then you're off to the bathroom once again. Frequent urination is also due to all those extra fluids building up. The kidneys have to work overtime to clear them out of the body.


Feeling light-headed or dizzy might mean you're pregnant. An implantation signals to your body that more blood is needed. In order to prepare for more flow, the blood vessels dilate. However, it takes your body a few days to produce more blood. Bigger blood vessels with less flow results in a decrease in your blood pressure, making you feel dizzy, especially upon standing quickly. Changing hormones can also play havoc with blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar can make you feel faint.


During their monthly cycles, many women experience an aching back right along with their menstrual cramps. PMS backaches are difficult to differentiate from early pregnancy back pain. A newly pregnant woman might experience back pain due to constipation and bloat, as well as the early stretching and growth of the uterus. If this weren't enough, having an increase of hormones surging through your body can make you feel achy all over.


There are just a few more additional symptoms of pregnancy. These signs of early pregnancy are often a little more reliable than those just discussed.


When the fertilized egg attaches to the uttering wall, some women experience cramping and even spotting. These cramps occur earlier than regular menstrual cramping and generally aren't as severe. The associated spotting also happens earlier and is lighter than a regular period. The blood from this type of spotting is usually more brown or pink than normal menstrual blood flow and doesn't last as long.

Breast Tenderness

A woman’s breasts are often the first indicators of hormonal changes. After ovulation, estrogen and progesterone levels rise to prepare the body for a possible implantation. Breasts become “tender”, as medical practitioners refer to it. Or they can be downright excruciatingly painful. Increased fluid and blood levels create swollen, heavy breast tissue. While breast tenderness is a possible sign of being pregnant, many women experience it every month with their normal cycles. Just as with other symptoms of pregnancy, pregnancy breast pain can occur earlier than normal PMS pain and doesn't taper off as your period approaches. Enlarged breasts might be with you throughout the entire pregnancy and not diminish until you're done breast feeding.

Dark Areolas

Along with breast tenderness, you might notice your breast areolas changing colors. The areola is the circle of tissue surrounding the nipple. Areolas darken with pregnancy. The pink areolas of women with light complexions will turn brown. Those with deeper skin tones will notice theirs becoming a darker brown. The areola can also increase in size to prepare for eventual breast feeding.

Vaginal Discharge

A woman who is in tune with her body can tell where in her cycle she is by her cervical discharge. Cervical fluid increases during the ovulation process which makes it easier for sperm to reach the egg. If there isn't a pregnancy, cervical fluid dries up for the next few weeks. Once the egg has implanted in the uterine wall, estrogen levels increase. This causes cervical fluid production to remain high, resulting in continued discharge. This discharge might be a creamy and have a yellow tint, or it might be pinkish-brown indicating implantation.

Increase in Basal Temperature

If you've been tracking your basal temperature rate, a double spike in temperature is a sure sign of pregnancy. Progesterone causes a rise in basal temperature until it peaks right about the time of ovulation. Many women use this information to help them get pregnant. If the basal temperature spikes again six or seven days after ovulation, you can be fairly certain you're pregnant. However, basal temperatures need to be tracked for several months to give you enough information to determine when you're having a spike in temperature.

Early Pregnancy Test Signs and Symptoms


Not all women experience these early pregnancy symptoms. Some are completely astounded to learn they're pregnant after a missed period, or even two. You could also be one of those women who “just know” when they are pregnant, with signs or without. Sometimes one of the best signs of early pregnancy is a woman's own intuition.


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