When you become sexually active, it comes with a lot of “what ifs,” the main one being am I pregnant? Since many symptoms of pregnancy are not specific only to pregnancy, women often wonder if their symptoms are due to pregnancy or something else entirely. To find out if it is time to consider taking a pregnancy test, check out this article.
One of the best things to do if you are trying to get pregnant, to avoid pregnancy, or to understand your cycle is to track it! There are many different apps for your smartphone, tablet, and/or computer that can help you track when your next period is expected. These applications can also keep notes on your symptoms, and after a few months of use can help you narrow down your expected fertility window/ovulation.
If you’re trying to see when your expected fertility window is this month, try our free ovulation calendar.
Below are the most commonly searched questions:
Am I pregnant, or am I about to start my period?
Symptoms of pregnancy and an impending period can be hard to tell apart since they can be very similar: mood swings, abdominal cramping, backaches, breast tenderness, headaches, and food cravings. There are a couple of symptoms that are more often related to pregnancy than to a menstrual period: nausea/vomiting and implantation bleeding. Keep in mind that not all women will experience these.
When a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine lining around 6-12 days after fertilization, some women will experience 1-3 days of light spotting, which we call implantation bleeding. This typically happens right around or before the time a woman is expecting her period.
Nausea that happens right near when a woman expects her period is more likely due to early pregnancy (or something else) than due to a menstrual period. Many people will refer to this as “morning sickness,” even though it can happen at any time of day. Wait, and if you don’t end up having a normal period when you expect it, it may be time to take a pregnancy test.
Am I pregnant, or am I about to ovulate?
Ovulation can also have symptoms similar to early pregnancy; however, it can be helpful to check what point you are at in your menstrual cycle. If you aren’t expecting your period for another 12-16 days, you may be experiencing ovulation symptoms. Also, if your last menstrual period was normal in length and flow, it is even more likely that what you are experiencing is related to ovulation, not pregnancy.
Ovulation symptoms are not apparent to every woman, and they do not happen consistently to each woman. These symptoms can include light spotting, abdominal cramping on one side (from an ovary preparing to release an egg), breast tenderness, abdominal bloating, a heightened sense of smell, taste, or vision, and/or a heightened sex drive.
If you are experiencing these symptoms and your expected period is only a few days away, wait to see if you have a normal period and if not, it may be time to take a pregnancy test.
Am I pregnant, or am I fat?
Usually, by the time a woman starts seeing visible weight gain she is already into her second trimester. Typically by this point, you would have noticed some other signs telling you that you may be pregnant.
If you feel that you’ve been gaining weight, ask yourself a few questions. Have you missed the last couple/few periods? Were you having unprotected sex before that? Have you been having other pregnancy symptoms (nausea, constipation, abdominal cramping, breast tenderness, etc.)? If you answered yes to these, it may be time to take a pregnancy test.
If not, have you been eating more in general or more unhealthy food than usual? Have you been exercising less than usual? Have you had any hormonal imbalances or extra stress? All these can lead to weight gain. If you are experiencing rapid weight gain and you don’t feel your lifestyle has changed, it may be time to see a doctor.
Am I pregnant, or am I bloated?
Pregnancy, along with PMS, ovulation, and unhealthy eating can all cause bloating. First, try to rule out a food cause. Have you been eating more unhealthy (fried, fattening, extra protein) the last few days? Have your bowel movements been abnormal (i.e., are you constipated- though, this can happen with pregnancy as well)? Have you been experiencing any cramping or gas pains?
If not, it may be due to something else. If you are about to start your menstrual period, this too can cause bloating. If your menstrual period does not begin within a few days of when you expect it, it may be time to take a pregnancy test.
Am I pregnant, or am I sick?
Often, this question comes up because of nausea and/or vomiting. Other times it has to do with abdominal cramping, indigestion, or headaches. Some women even associate common cold-like symptoms, like a runny nose, with early pregnancy. If you are nauseated, vomiting, cramping, or having headaches only a couple to a few days after having sex, it is unlikely that these have to do with pregnancy from that experience.
If you are experiencing nausea/vomiting slightly before your expected period, wait to see if your menstrual period does come – if your period is normal, it is less likely this nausea/vomiting is due to pregnancy; go see your doctor because you are likely sick.
Having a runny nose is not normally connected to early pregnancy unless you are experiencing other symptoms of early pregnancy along with it. If all you have is a runny nose, this is unlikely indicative of a pregnancy.
If you are experiencing severe/stabbing cramps in your abdomen (especially if it is only on the right or the left side) along with nausea/vomiting, this may be a sign of an ovarian cyst or an ectopic pregnancy. If so, it is time to consider seeking emergency care.
Last updated: June 9, 2018 at 11:34 am