So, you think you may be pregnant and need a pregnancy test.
The only way to know for sure? Take a pregnancy test, and consult a doctor. But, there are some early signs that indicate you may be pregnant—knowing these, in combination with testing & medical advice, may help to bring you peace of mind. But remember: none of these signs are 100% proof that you are pregnant, so take a pregnancy test to know for sure!
The most common reason for someone to suspect that they are pregnant is a missed period. If your period is late or doesn’t come at all, you may be pregnant. This is because since your egg is fertilized, your body will not shed the thick uterine lining that has built up (which causes menstruation), because that uterine lining is now in use! However, a late period is sometimes an unreliable sign. Remember: many people’s menstrual cycles are irregular, and your period could also be late (or skipped) due to factors like stress, diet or exercise.
Some women experience light spotting, called implantation bleeding, at the start of their pregnancy. This bleeding is caused by the fertilized egg latching onto the uterus lining and embedding itself, which usually occurs between 6 and 14 days after fertilization. Implantation bleeding tends to be lighter and shorter than your menstrual period and may be accompanied with milky discharge, which is due to the increased development of the lining of the vagina.
Of course, cramps are common before or during your period, but they can also be pretty common during the first trimester of pregnancy. This cramping tends to occur on one or both sides of your lower abdomen as a result of an expanding uterus and stretching ligaments. If this cramping occurs around or before a period is due, but there is no bleeding or the bleeding is much lighter than usual, it may be a good idea to take a pregnancy test.
As early as one to two weeks after conception, pregnant women may experience changes in their breasts. You may notice your breasts are:
- Darker (especially around your nipples)
These changes in your breasts are a result of the hormone levels in your body shifting to support the fetus' growth.
Nausea and vomiting
If you have watched any movie about a woman discovering she is pregnant, you would know that nausea and vomiting is usually the way she finds out. Nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy tend to start between the 2nd and 8th week of pregnancy. These symptoms are suspected to be linked to the production of the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone that the body begins to produce once the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. They could also be caused by an increase in estrogen, adapting to the changes in pregnancy, or stress and fatigue. There’s a misconception that nausea and vomiting only happen in the morning, since they are usually called morning sickness, but they can actually happen at any time of the day. If you feel nauseous for no obvious reason, and you experience other signs of pregnancy, you should take a pregnancy test.
Are you really craving ice cream at 3am or can’t stand the thought of drinking coffee anymore? These food aversions and cravings are possibly linked to the hormonal changes of pregnancy, such as an increase in hCG (also meaning that these symptoms are potentially connected to morning sickness). hCG levels peak and level off around your 11th week of pregnancy, and so it is common for these food aversions and cravings to only affect your first trimester.
Exhaustion is also a common symptom of early pregnancy. This is usually due to changes in the hormone progesterone and will likely get better in the second trimester. If you’re feeling like a college freshman during finals week, it may be a good idea to get a pregnancy test.
Changes in bathroom habits
Many women experience frequent urges to pee at the start of pregnancy. Some women also experience symptoms like constipation, bloating and gas. A combination of hormonal fluctuations, nervousness about the new pregnancy and a change in eating habits can contribute to these changes in bathroom habits during early pregnancy.
At the start of pregnancy you may feel like your emotions are a bit out of balance. This is due to your hormones changing, which may make you feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster. For many women, these unusual emotions may continue even after the first trimester. Many may also experience pre and postpartum depression. Just remember that you are not alone—there are many resources that can support and help you during this difficult time.
You should consider taking a pregnancy test if you had a birth control mishap within the last month, especially if you missed your period. A broken condom or a missed birth control pill can increase the possibility of you getting pregnant.
Although they are not 100% reliable, these symptoms are many times your body’s way of informing you that your body is changing to get ready for a baby! No matter what your emotions are surrounding the possibility of pregnancy, you should not ignore these symptoms and you should take a pregnancy test as soon as possible when they show up.