What are the Symptoms of Pregnancy Before a Missed Period?
Before we answer the question above, let’s first discuss this question - is it possible to exhibit symptoms even before a missed period?
The answer is yes!
Most women assume that the earliest symptom of pregnancy is a missed period. Actually, there are many symptoms of pregnancy before a missed period. When a woman notices her missed period she has probably already had several early symptoms. These symptoms are often overlooked because most women depend only on missed period to determine pregnancy. These very early symptoms appear even before there is sufficient hCG in a the body that could be determined by either urine or blood test.
Women who keep track of their menstrual cycles and experience it on a monthly basis is likely to focus on a missed period to confirm gestation. There are women who use the calendar method when trying to conceive an offspring. The calendar hints an ideal date when a woman is fertile and when is the next period will arrive. In case the date of the period lapses, it means there is chance of pregnancy.
However, it is a different story when a woman has irregular menstrual cycle and might be diagnosed with the condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or often shortened to PCOS. This health problem causes an imbalance in a woman’s hormones leading to skipped periods, weight loss and gains, and difficulty in conceiving a child. Women with PCOS have many small cysts in their ovaries but these are harmless and benign.
For women with PCOS who are trying to bear a child, you can consult an OB who can assist in keeping the body conducive for pregnancy. You can schedule a preconception appointment where you and the doctor can discuss the things to do to help you conceive even if you have PCOS.
To manage PCOS early on, doctors recommend patients to keep a balanced diet to control the body weight as well as the sugar level. It is also necessary to keep an active lifestyle and eliminate bad habits like smoking.
A specialist in fertility called reproductive endocrinologist can also prescribe medications which can induce ovulation on a monthly basis which means there is a greater chance for pregnancy to take place.
Those women who develop these early pregnancy symptoms before their periods are possibly sensitive to even a minimal change in the hormones. These symptoms shows at around a week before a positive result in a pregnancy test is confirmed.
The following are several symptoms of pregnancy that occur before you miss your first period.
1. Breasts are tender to touch
A woman will feel a swelling or tenderness in her breast or nipple area before missing her period. This is a very early sign of pregnancy. When unexpected a woman may blame this discomfort on a bra or other clothing. But when a woman knows her body she will notice very early on in the pregnancy. The aereola of the nipple will also enlarge and darken a week or so before the first missed period.
The bosom is sensitive at this point because the body is preparing the mammary glands for the coming milk production. Fat building, blood flow, and hormonal changes also contribute to this symptom. The breasts are bound to change throughout the pregnancy and even after childbirth. But at the start of the pregnancy, signs like darkening and enlarging of the areolas plus tingling of nipples can be observed.
2. Nauseous feeling
Feeling dizzy is one of the most typical and earliest symptoms of pregnancy. This can occur before and after a missed period and common throughout the first three months. Nausea and vomiting is the combination of symptoms tagged as “morning sickness.” This woozy feeling is caused by the massive production of the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone in a woman’s body. The pregnancy hormone is released once the sperm cell attaches to the egg cell and the fertilized egg slowly plants itself onto the uterine lining.
3. Frequent trips to the bathroom
Another early pregnancy symptom is constipation. When you have less than three bowel movements a week this is a sign of pregnancy. The constipation is caused by the constant changing of the progesterone in the body. Women who don’t know how to identify the symptom often write it off as just a temporary issue. But both constipation and breast tenderness can be an indication of a pregnancy.
Just about seven days after ovulation and unprotected sex, hCG levels may already start to increase inside a woman’s body which triggers more trips to the bathroom to urinate. Another factor that causes this symptom is the excess fluid in an expecting mom’s body which goes straight to the kidney and into the bladder; prompting more bathroom breaks than the usual. Moreover, as the fetus grows, the added weight tends to push down the urethra and pelvic area which leads to uncontrollable urine leak when a pregnant woman sneezes, coughs, or laughs. This symptom can be managed by avoiding caffeinated drinks which have diuretic effect or by acquiring a urination device that can be used while in transit or when there is no convenient place to take a leak.
4. Fatigue and increased body temperature
After ovulation, a woman’s body temperature goes up by 0.4 but this will return to normal temperature in the event the egg cell was not fertilized. On the other hand, a woman carrying a fertilized ovum will continue to experience an elevated body temperature. The change in temperature is minimal but when these data are read using a basal body temperature charting, this can confirm pregnancy early on. Basal thermometer which can be used either orally or rectally are available in many drugstores. These thermometers comes with the chart where users can interpret the data for two to three cycles.
A woman's basal temperature will elevate after ovulation and it remains elevated throughout the pregnancy. Ovulation is the process of releasing a mature egg from the ovary through the Fallopian tube where it is fertilized by sperm. This process usually takes place from 6 to 12 days after the ovulation, which is about two to three weeks before your period. This temperature will register as a one to two degree elevation.
Feeling tired all the time even after a good nights rest or a nap is an early sign of pregnancy. There is a difference between just being tired and feeling fatigued. When you are tired you can rest and once your body gets needed sleep you feel refreshed. When you are fatigued you constantly feel tired even after having just woken up. Fatigue is one of the symptoms of pregnancy before a missed period and occurs because of the rise in progesterone, but also because pregnancy strains most bodily functions.
5. Metallic taste inside the mouth
Can you imagine the taste of sucking a penny? That’s how most women describe their experience when they complain about lingering metallic taste on their tongue in the early days of pregnancy. This occurrence is referred to as ‘dysgeusia’. This symptom occurs simultaneously with cravings and aversions to some odors. The presence of the pregnancy hormones is the culprit behind this major change in taste. Dysgeusia will persist for the first trimester and will eventually disappear after a few months.
6. Heightened sense of smell
Another common symptom among women during the initial stages of pregnancy is super sensitive sense of smell. Many speculate that expecting moms are more aware of how things around them smell which lead to aversion to some odors. Women who goes through this symptom often feel dismayed by the aroma of cuisines with garlic or seafood. The hormonal changes are still the one to blame for this symptom. This occurrence can leave some pregnant women frustrated since they cannot enjoy the food and drinks they normally like. To manage this symptoms, pregnant women are advised to stay on well-ventilated places as smell aversion may also lead to nausea and vomiting. Additionally, a pleasant-smelling air freshener can be carried around to eliminate bad odors in no time.
If you experience any of these early symptoms of pregnancy before a missed period, you could be pregnant. Before you wait for your period you should get a home pregnancy test to test yourself. This way you will be sure of the pregnancy and can call your doctor immediately to see what care you need to take.
Now that we are done enumerating the early symptoms of pregnancy, we can go and address another important question: is it okay to take a home pregnancy test when you experience one or two of these symptoms even before the missed period?
The answer: yes, but it depends.
If you had unprotected sex and you’ve exhibited any of the symptoms above, then yes, you can buy a pregnancy test kit and administer it at your most convenient time. Pregnancy tests work by checking and measuring the amount of the hCG in the urine.
There are pregnancy test kits that are highly sensitive and can detect pregnancy hormones a few days before your delayed menstruation or about seven days after the ovum was fertilized. If you read the labels of these kits more closely, the sensitivity of the pregnancy test is indicated as ‘milli-international unit per millilitre’ or mIU/ml. The value of this measurement ranges from 10 to 40 mIU/ml. The lower the digits, the more sensitive the test is, thus the earlier it can detect the presence of hCG in the body. This information will come in handy since it can help you choose wisely which pregnancy test to buy. You will also not need to buy several pregnancy tests and confuse yourself on the many results. This will also save you time and effort plus not waste your money on unreliable ones.
OBs still recommend to test around the time the menstrual period is due. At this point, hCG has kicked in and can be easily picked up by the pregnancy test. Testing too soon might yield a negative result but you can always repeat it after three to four days. It is also misleading to see a negative result yet you are really pregnant which is why it is important to take a pregnancy test at the perfect timing.
If you want the opinion of a professional, seek a doctor who can take a sample of your blood and check the presence of hCG. Unlike home pregnancy test, blood test are more sensitive and can detect hCG from about six days after fertilization.
Just remember that each pregnancy is different. Symptoms may vary and will come and go at various times. The essential part here is to keep your body healthy as this will be the baby’s home for the next nine months. Be sure include ‘rainbow’ in your diet, that is, indulge on colorful fruits and vegetable that will provide sufficient nutrition for you and your child. You can also take prescribed medicine rich in folate, DHA, and folic acid for the child’s development.