PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome is a condition synonymous with periods. In most cases, PMS starts a week or two before the menstrual cycle and affects the physical, mental as well as emotional health. Some of the PMS associated symptoms are so identical to those of early pregnancy that many women get confused between the two. Be it PMS or early pregnancy, most of the symptoms surface from the hormonal changes. Mentioned below are some common pregnancy (initial stage) and PMS related symptoms that will leave you scratching your head.
Spotting is a common occurrence in early pregnancy. Many women confuse spotting or implantation bleeding with periods. Unlike periods, you don’t need sanitary pads for implantation bleeding (approximately 10-14 days after fertilization takes place). The implantation bleeding in some pregnant women takes place when the fertilized egg adheres itself to the uterine wall.
The menstrual bleeding is relatively heavy and requires the use of sanitary pads.
The menstrual and pregnancy cramps are quite identical. Factors including the level of prostaglandins (causes contraction of uterine muscles), Endometriosis, Uterine fibroids, Cervical stenosis, to name a few, affect the severity of menstrual cramps.
More than often, implantation and uterine expansion trigger abdominal cramps during early pregnancy. One can also expect light bleeding/spotting in case of implantation cramping.
Sore and tender breasts
In early pregnancy as well as PMS, the breasts appear tender, dense, and painful to touch. In the case of pregnancy, the changes appear as early as a week or two after you conceive. And in PMS, one experiences the changes a week before the menstrual cycle.
In both cases, the changes appear due to an elevated level of progesterone hormone.
Whether you are pregnant or PMSing, mood swings are inevitable. Trivial matters make you cry. You may feel anxious and agitated for no reasons. In PMS, one experiences the mood fluctuations a week or two before the menstrual cycle. During pregnancy, the mood swings appear mostly during the first (~six to ten weeks of pregnancy) and third trimester. The hormonal changes play a contributing role in triggering mood swings during pregnancy and PMS.
Some women PMSing experience nausea as they near their menses. However, the relief is, the situation improves once you get your periods.
Likes and aversions for food
The eating habits undergo a drastic change in early pregnancy and during PMS. Many women load their fridge with chocolates, chips, pastries, cookies, aerated drinks when PMSing.
During pregnancy, you may have cravings for some food and complete aversion for others. You may also be highly sensitive to strong smells which can last throughout the pregnancy
Fatigue and exhaustion
Changes in the level of the neurotransmitter Serotonin play a pivotal role in PMS associated fatigue. The lower the level of serotonin, the more tired and exhausted you will feel.
As in PMS, fluctuations in the hormonal level (especially progesterone) trigger early pregnancy-related fatigue and exhaustion.
Some of the other symptoms common during PMS and early pregnancy include
- You feel bloated most of the time
- Back pain (mostly lower back)
- Increase in body weight
- Hormonal imbalance can also trigger constipation during PMS as well as pregnancy.
- Common in pregnancy, some women may experience frequent urination during PMS as well.
The early signs and symptoms may leave you confused. However, you can carry out urine and blood tests to confirm pregnancy followed by a consultation with the doctor.