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Pregnant or Period? It Can Be Hard to Tell!

By HERWriter
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It is an unfortunate truth that the signs of early pregnancy are extremely similar to the symptoms a woman experiences just before getting her period. Whether she is excitedly hoping to become pregnant or actively doing her best to remain fetus-free, these confusing parallels often cause many women (and the people in their lives) anxiety each month. While this overview cannot help you determine your individual pregnancy status, by laying out the ironic similarities of the two situations you will have a better understanding of what could be happening in your body, and why that panicking about the situation is not worth it.

Physiological and Psychological Similarities Between Pre-Menstruation and Pregnancy:

Physical Symptoms:
- Discomfort:
o Cramping, Nausea, bloating
o Headaches, backaches
o Breast tenderness
- Fatigue/tiredness
- Change in consistency or amount of vaginal discharge

Psychological Symptoms:
- Change in appetite; food cravings or aversions
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Irritability or anxiety
- Extreme mood swings

All of these symptoms are caused by changes in your body’s level of hormones. Each month when you come to the end of your cycle, your level of progesterone drops, inhibited by a natural feedback loop of hormones in your body. This allows the lining of your uterus to thin and contract, causing bleeding, cramps and many of the other side-effects we associate with menstruation.

In the case of pregnancy, these side effects are actually caused by an increase of progesterone. Once implantation of an egg and sperm in the uterine wall occurs, the body will begin to produce human chorionic gonadatropin (HCG – the hormone that a pregnancy test measures), which overrides the internal hormone feedback loop you normally experience and allows levels of progesterone to rise.

"So what?" you might be saying. "How does this information help me figure out whether or not I might be pregnant?"

There are many reasons (not limited to the list below) that your body may mimic early signs of pregnancy, altering your normal production of hormones and delaying your period:

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.