Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert.
When you and your partner are embarking on the journey of starting a family, you are going to be on high alert most of the time.
You will be watching for any possible sign that your efforts have worked, that you can start actively planning for the next stage and preparing to welcome another life into your family and the world.
What comes with that is an awful lot of anxiety and stress about what steps you could be taking, what you might be doing wrong, and what every sign or change in your body could mean.
One of the most common areas of confusion is the difference between signs that you are pregnant and symptoms of PMS.
There is a fair amount of overlap, but there are several key differences. If you want to have a better understanding of pregnancy versus PMS symptoms, then read on.
- What Is PMS?
- Mood Changes
- Breast Pain
- Tiredness And Fatigue
- Bleeding And Spotting
- Food Cravings
- What Can The Man Do To Help?
What Is PMS?
Premenstrual Syndrome typically occurs between five to eleven days before menstruation, and it can affect a woman’s physical health, her moods, and her behavior.
PMS will generally stop once a woman begins menstruation, but it is important to remember that many of the symptoms resemble those that you would see in a woman in the early stages of pregnancy. Here are some of the most common.
Mood changes are very common in both early pregnancies and during PMS. Typical examples of these changes include feeling unusually anxious, or sad, or irritable.
The woman may find herself crying or grouchy for reasons that are not always easy to put her finger on, and this is because her hormone balance is changing.
The key difference to note here is that these symptoms should stop once menstruation starts if it’s PMS.
If it’s pregnancy, then these larger mood swings may continue right up until the birth.
It is important to note that these are also signs of depression, which is also common during pregnancy.
Exercise has been reported by the Frontiers in Physiology journal to be beneficial and better rest can help with these symptoms in the short term.
However, you should talk to your doctor if the symptoms continue.
Breast swelling and tenderness is also a common symptom of both PMS and pregnancy.
As with changes in mood, however, the key to telling the difference can be found in the timing of those symptoms.
With PMS, that tenderness and swelling tends to occur during the second half of the menstrual cycle and will alleviate during or after the cycle.
If the woman is pregnant, tenderness and swelling will tend to occur around four weeks after the baby has been conceived, this is known as your first trimester, and it could last for a while longer.
With both conditions, you may also notice heaviness, swelling, and some bumpy breast tissue.
Tiredness And Fatigue
Tiredness and fatigue are common during the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy, as your body is creating more of a hormone called progesterone.
It is worth noting that it is most pronounced at this point, but it can continue throughout the entire pregnancy.
Fatigue is also common in women experiencing PMS, and that is partly because they may also be having trouble sleeping.
It’s recommended that getting outside and getting a bit of exercise can help with these symptoms to help you get some better sleep.
Bleeding And Spotting
Here is one where the symptoms do differ depending on the condition. Some people do experience some light bleeding or spotting as an early sign of pregnancy, known as implantation bleeding.
Bleeding or spotting does not typically occur as a PMS condition, and menstrual bleeding will be significantly heavier than implantation bleeding.
Implantation bleeding will only last for a couple of days, whereas menstrual bleeding can last for up to a week.
If you are experiencing PMS, then you should not typically be experiencing nausea or vomiting which is not as common as stomach ache, diarrhea or bloating as reported in 2014 by the BMC Women's Health Journal.
However, nausea is a very common sign that a woman is pregnant.
You’ll probably know this by the term morning sickness, and it tends to begin around a month after the pregnancy begins.
It is also worth noting that morning sickness can and does occur at any time of day, despite what the name suggests.
Cramping is a common symptom in both PMS and pregnancy, but there are some differences to look out for.
Pregnancy-related cramps tend to occur lower in the woman’s stomach than menstrual cramps.
If the woman is pregnant, then these cramps will continue for months into the pregnancy as the uterus stretches.
A woman may experience food cravings in both conditions, but the difference can be found in the type of craving.
In pregnancy, it is common for the woman to experience very specific or unusual food cravings, while you may feel revolted by other foods even if you typically like them.
If the cravings are PMS-related, they tend to be focused on high-carb foods that are sweet or salty, and you may find that you have a much greater appetite than usual.
What Can The Man Do To Help?
While your partner is worrying about the differences between these symptoms, there is a lot that you can be doing to increase your knowledge about fertility and how you can boost yours.
If you are concerned about your fertility levels, a supplement is a great way of giving your body the tools it needs to create healthy sperm.
There are many similarities between the symptoms of PMS and early pregnancy.
Knowing the differences and doing your research on fertility is a great way to support your partner during this stressful time.
A lot of the weight during this process will fall on her, and Fertiligy’s carefully selected ingredients will help you to ensure that you are doing as much as you can to start a family together.