How do Pregnancy Signs Differ from a Regular Period?

How do Pregnancy Signs Differ from a Regular Period?

The first few weeks of pregnancy can be a confusing time, especially if symptoms are occurring before a pregnancy test can detect whether you’re pregnant. So, are you pregnant? Or are the symptoms you’re experiencing just indicating your period will start soon?

Some may initially think this is a no-brainer because the symptoms are so different, but when you look a little closer, you’ll see that the two really can look and feel the same to a certain extent! While some symptoms are common in both early pregnancy and menstruation (tender breasts, fatigue, cramping), they still differ slightly in how they present themselves and by what is causing them. SO, what are common symptoms in early pregnancy that are NOT typically present during a normal period? Nausea, vomiting, increased urination, constipation, spotting (typically there’s no spotting before a period, just regular period bleeding), and occasional food cravings. Common symptoms you can expect during both early pregnancy and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are as follows:

Tender Breasts

  • Early Pregnancy: Breast tenderness happens within a few weeks of conception. Swollen breasts, sore nipples, noticeable growth in either breast tissue or in the areola, or all-around sensitivity can be expected.
  • Regular Period: This occurs before the onset of a period; feeling heavy or tender for a few days but the discomfort subsides on or near the start point of period.


  • Early Pregnancy: Increased amounts of progesterone and blood flow are likely the culprits when it comes to being tired. This symptom is always a dead giveaway for my pregnancies.
  • Regular Period: Tiredness may hit simply to remind the body to slow down and take it easy. An unhealthy diet and lack of exercise (common occurrences for some during menstruation) may also be the cause.


  • Early Pregnancy: Implantation cramping is when the embryo implants itself into the uterine wall. This could be accompanied by light spotting. Though this is a different type of cramping, it feels incredibly similar to menstrual cramps. This can last for a few days or a few months depending on the person.
  • Regular Period: Menstrual cramping is when the uterus is contracting to slum off blood from the uterine walls. This can be very painful, but doesn’t last more than a few days.

Changes in Skin/Hair

  • Early Pregnancy: Acne, skin that is more or less oily than usual, or hair that is more or less oily than normal are all slight changes that could indicate pregnancy. All of this is due to a change and increase in hormones and some attribute this to the “glow” that is often spoken of in pregnant women.
  • Regular Period: Also due to hormones, skin changes are common around the time a woman starts her period. It is an internal issue rather than an external one.
Headaches, body aches, mood swings, and stomach pain are also symptoms caused by plentiful hormones.

I’m definitely not the first to say it and I know I won’t be the last: a woman’s body is amazing. The symptoms may not always be the most fun, but what’s happening is pretty remarkable.

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