PMS Symptoms and Pregnancy Symptoms

Many of the symptoms of PMS and pregnancy are very similar. It can be hard to tell just what is going on in the body. The common denominator is a change in hormones. While PMS occurs due to a drop in hormones and pregnancy causes an increase in hormonal levels, the symptoms are often the same. The following are some common signs of both PMS and pregnancy.


Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of both PMS and pregnancy. Many women with PMS have a hard time sleeping, while pregnancy is a very energy-intensive process.

Mood Swings

Many women have mood swings prior to their period as estrogen levels drop off, causing a similar low in serotonin, a brain chemical. However, mood swings can also be a sign of pregnancy. Some women will have mood swings during the early phase of a pregnancy, while others will struggle with them throughout.


Hormonal fluctuations are a known cause of headaches. Headaches are very common before and during menstruation while estrogen and serotonin levels are low. For most women, headaches improve during pregnancy, but for some, they get worse. Treating headaches during pregnancy can be difficult as many over-the-counter and prescription medications can be harmful to the developing fetus. If you are pregnant and are suffering from headaches, discuss your options with your obstetrician.

Breast Tenderness

Many women experience tender breasts as a symptom of PMS. However, breast tenderness can also be an early sign of pregnancy. Pregnancy typically causes swelling and tenderness of the breasts. Pregnancy can also cause a darkening of the areolas, the skin around the nipples.


Backaches can occur in conjunction with both PMS and pregnancy. In the case of pregnancy, they often get better as the pregnancy progresses, but some women have continual lower back pain throughout the entire pregnancy.

Food Cravings

Food cravings are common with both PMS and pregnancy. Women who have food cravings due to PMS usually want sweets and simple carbohydrates that quickly raise serotonin levels in the brain. Pregnant women commonly crave foods that contain nutrients, vitamins, or calories necessary for the developing fetus.

Weight Gain

Some women experience weight gain due to water retention and overeating during the premenstrual period. Pregnancy also causes weight gain.


Bloating is a common complaint of women dealing with PMS, but abdominal bloating can also be a sign of pregnancy.

How to Tell If You're Pregnant

With all these symptoms in common, it can be hard to distinguish PMS and pregnancy. However, some symptoms, such as missed periods, morning sickness, and frequent urination, are exclusive to pregnancy. If you suspect you may be pregnant, consult with your doctor to determine if so is the case or, if not, what else is causing your symptoms.


Photo Credit: ElvisHuang

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