Yoga & Fitness

PMS Or Pregnancy, How To Spot Difference In Symptoms? Doctor Explains

Many symptoms like cramps, bloating, breast soreness or tenderness, mood swings, craving, and weakness can occur during early pregnancy as well as in PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) and confuse you. While these symptoms can be similar, there are subtle differences in them that can help you rule out PMS or early pregnancy. 

A research study published by National Institute of Health, US, says that psychological and physical symptoms of early pregnancy are associated with premenstrual syndrome. 

To understand the similar symptoms of early pregnancy and PMS, Only My Health interacted with Dr Mitali Rathod, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Kuldeep Maternity and Surgical Hospital, Kalol, Gandhinagar. 

Also read: Understanding PMS: Why Some People Experience Breasts Changes Before Period

Common Symptoms of Early Pregnancy and PMS

The first and foremost symptom of pregnancy is missed periods followed by nausea, vomiting, more than usual white discharge, weakness and tiredness. PMS arrives with mood swings, cravings, and drop in energy levels. 

Early Pregnancy vs PMS Symptoms

Describing PMS and early pregnancy symptoms and their time of occurrence, Dr Rathod said, “PMS happens post mid-cycle and pregnancy symptoms start to show after missed periods. PMS is extremely directed by hormonal disturbances like estrogen fall and LH surge while pregnancy symptoms are directed by HCG hormone.”

1. Cramps


Minimal cramps can show up around mid-cycle during ovulation period but it is not prominent among all women. When PMSing, the intensity of cramps can gradually increase. While during early pregnancy, cramps are mild to none. 

2. Bloating

According to Dr Rathod, “Bloating is more commonly seen during PMS than early pregnancy, however, that is linked to one’s own gut health. In pregnancy, the bloating starts to show or get worse after 11-12 weeks as the baby starts to grow and push digestive organs.”

3. Spotting Or Bleeding

Menstrual bleeding starts after PMS in the fourth week of the cycle. Speaking about spotting, Dr Rathod said, “Mid-cycle spotting is associated with ovulation spotting and is seen in nearly 20-25% of women.” When it comes to pregnancy, bleeding is not generally seen, however, during implantation, light bleeding to spotting is seen.


4. Tenderness Or Soreness In Breasts 

Tender breasts or sore breasts can be associated with both early pregnancy and PMS but as the period ends, it goes away. In pregnancy, the tenderness lasts longer and the intensity can be more than that of PMS. 

Also read: PMS VS PMDD: Expert Explains The Difference Between The Two

5. Mood Swings

Explaining the difference between the mood swings in PMS and pregnancy, Dr Rathod said, “PMS mood swings can vary from sadness, feeling low to anxiety and frustration. While pregnancy symptoms are driven by lack of energy and fatigue.”

6. Food Cravings

Food cravings

While PMSing you can feel cravings for salty and sugary foods like junk foods, chocolates, pastries and so on. In early pregnancy, women are more likely to crave for salty, citrusy foods like lemon and pickles. Women may go through food aversions as well during early pregnancy. 

When To See Doctor?

Dr Rathod advised, “When it comes to mid-cycle challenges, if you feel you have a mild grade of disturbances, sit with yourself and manage by acknowledging and indulging into yoga, exercises, deep breathing and other stuff. Visit a doctor when your symptoms are cumbersome and mess up with your routine.”

Pregnancy test

Talking about pregnancy she said, “If you’ve missed a cycle just take a urine pregnancy test & if that comes positive visit your doctor as soon as possible. Irrespective of any grade & severity of symptoms if you feel, that’s messing up with your routine visit to the doctor.”

[Disclaimer: This article is for informational purpose only. Please consult with your doctor if you are going through any changes in your PMS, menstrual cycle or pregnancy.] 

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