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Pregnancy Symptoms – Early Signs of Pregnancy

Pregnancy symptoms differ from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy. However, the most significant pregnancy symptom is a delayed or missed menstrual cycle.

If you have been sexually active and are experiencing any of the following symptoms it’s important to take a pregnancy test because each symptom could be related to something other than pregnancy.  To find out if your symptoms are pregnancy-related, you will need an accurate pregnancy diagnosis (e.g. ultrasound, blood test, etc.)

Some women experience symptoms of pregnancy within a week of conception. For other women, pregnancy symptoms may develop over a few weeks or may not be present at all. Below is a list of the most common pregnancy signs and symptoms

Delayed or missed menstruation is the most common pregnancy symptom leading women to test for pregnancy. When you become pregnant your next period should be missed. While some women can bleed during pregnancy, typically the bleeding will be shorter or lighter than a normal period. Other Explanations for menstrual changes could be: Excessive weight gain/loss, fatigue, hormonal problems, tension, stress, history of irregular menstrual cycles, ceasing to take the birth control pill or breast-feeding.

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Swollen or tender breasts are a pregnancy symptom which may begin as early as 1-2 weeks after conception. Women may notice changes in their breasts; they may be tender to the touch, sore, or swollen. Other Explanations: Hormonal imbalance, birth control pills, impending menstruation (PMS) can also cause your breasts to be swollen or tender.

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Feeling fatigued or more tired in pregnancy can start as early as the first week after conception. Other Explanations for fatigue could be: Stress, exhaustion, depression, common cold or flu, or other illnesses.

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Headaches early in pregnancy could be due to the sudden rise of hormones in your body. Other Explanations for headaches could be: Dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, impending menstruation, eye strain or other ailments.

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Frequent urination is common around 6-8 weeks after conception.  Other Explanations for this could be: Urinary tract infection, diabetes, increased liquid intake or taking excessive diuretics.

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According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 15-25% of pregnant women experience bleeding in the first trimester. This may be related to implantation bleeding, which is  when the embryo implants itself into the uterine wall about 1-2 weeks  after conception. It can be one of the earliest pregnancy symptoms, and may cause some spotting as well as some cramping. Other pregnancy-related bleeding could be caused by an early pregnancy loss, ectopic pregnancy, or infection.

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Nausea or morning sickness in pregnancy will often show up by 9 weeks of pregnancy and can occur during any time of the day. Not all women deal with morning sickness, while others feel nauseous throughout most of their pregnancy. Other Explanations for nausea or vomiting could be: Food poisoning, stress, or other stomach disorders can also cause you to feel queasy.

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Lower backache may be a symptom that occurs early in pregnancy; however, it is common to experience a dull backache throughout an entire pregnancy. Other Explanations: Impending menstruation, stress, other back problems, and physical or mental strains.

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Many women will feel cravings or aversions for certain foods and this can last throughout your entire pregnancy. Other Explanations for food cravings could be: Poor diet, lack of a certain nutrient, stress, depression or impending menstruation.

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Clinician's Note

Since many of these early pregnancy symptoms mimic symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), it’s recommended that you take a home pregnancy test or be seen by a healthcare provider.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended for general education purposes only and should not be replied upon as a substitute for professional and/or medical advice.

FAQ

Some women experience signs or symptoms of pregnancy within a week of conception. For other women, pregnancy symptoms may develop over a few weeks or may not be present at all. In this case, we recommend waiting to take a pregnancy test until your period is late.

When the sperm penetrates an egg during conception, your body produces a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Urine-based pregnancy tests detect the presence of hCG in your body which is an indication of a possible pregnancy.

Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECPs) are often called the “morning after pill.” In the United States, there are two kinds of ECPs. One is called Plan B One-Step. The other is called Next Choice. ECP should prevent pregnancy from occurring, but must be used soon after unprotected intercourse to be effective.  If you are already pregnant, none of the Emergency contraceptive pills have been shown to harm the health of the fetus.  If you have not had your period within a week of expecting it, you should take a pregnancy test. 

According to WomensHealth.gov after you have taken ECPs, your next period may come sooner or later than normal. Most women will get their period within 7 days of the expected date. Your period also may be heavier, lighter, or more spotty than normal. If you do not get your period in 3 weeks or if you think you might be pregnant after taking ECPs, take a pregnancy test.

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