Early PMS or Pregnancy Symptoms?
One of the most maddening things while you are trying to conceive is staying patient during the ‘two-week wait” (the gap of time between ovulation and when you would normally expect your menstrual period to begin). Chances are you’re feeling nervous, anxious, agitated, and you want to know whether or not you are pregnant now. But your body has a funny way of dragging out the suspense: The symptoms of pregnancy can look nearly identical to the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS.
Some of the signs that you are about to get your period include breast tenderness, headache, tiredness, nausea, cramps, food cravings, and/or depression. Unfortunately, you may also experience those symptoms if you are pregnant. So how can you tell whether you are pregnant this time around, or simply going through another cycle? Here are some ways to sort it all out:
Know your body: If you typically get heavy cramps and a migraine headache when your period is about to approach, you probably should not use these symptoms to assume that you are pregnant. But if PMS rarely brings you down, and then all of a sudden you feel like taking two or three naps a day, your body might be telling you that this cycle is different. The key is knowing what’s normal for you and identifying which symptoms are more surprising or unusual.
Chart your temperature: If you have been charting your basal body temperature all along, you will probably have a good feel for what is happening throughout your menstrual cycle. You will have noticed a drop, and then a rise in your temperature after you ovulated. And if your temperature remains high for eighteen days after ovulation, this could be a good indication that you are pregnant. However, you need to have established a good track record of charting to understand which temperatures are normal for you. You can’t simply isolate the last two weeks of your menstrual cycle and draw any meaning from those temperatures.
Distract yourself: OK, this isn’t technically going to help you learn anything about your condition. But if you’re worrying too much about whether or not you are pregnant, you may just worry yourself to exhaustion. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to parse all of the symptoms. Instead, find something productive to do during the time you are waiting for the two weeks to pass. Try cleaning out your closets, taking a road trip, baking cookies for friends, or creating a family web site. That way, after the two-week wait is over, no matter what the result is, you’ll have something positive to show for it.
Of course the waiting is tough. But don’t make it harder on yourself by doing things that might give you the wrong information, like taking a pregnancy test too early. You may get a false negative (meaning the test says you are not pregnant when you really are) simply because your body hasn’t produced enough hCG or human growth hormone yet. Alternatively, you may get a false positive if implantation has occurred but the pregnancy does not take.
At the end of the two-week wait, you may see some spotting, which could be a sign of implantation bleeding if you are pregnant, or simply the start of your period. If your period never shows up, you can take a pregnancy test; and if the test is positive, you should have your pregnancy confirmed at the doctors’ office. But in the meantime, you should take good care of yourself so that you are rested and ready for the results either way.