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7 Differences: PMS Symptoms Vs Pregnancy Symptoms

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Are you confused if you are pregnant, or is it just Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)?

This is a common question among women, especially those trying to conceive. 

Women often get confused between pregnancy and PMS because the signs of an early pregnancy can be very similar to PMS.

However, there are some differences between the symptoms of PMS and pregnancy. Learning these differences can help you identify whether you’re pregnant or have PMS.

This article will shed light on PMS symptoms vs pregnancy symptoms, helping you differentiate between the two. 

PMS Symptoms Vs Pregnancy Symptoms

The symptoms of PMS and pregnancy can be almost the same, but the little differences in how these symptoms present themselves can help you identify PMS from pregnancy.

We will differentiate various symptoms of PMS and pregnancy, including mood changes, breast pain, fatigue, Nausea, cravings, and cramps.

Mood Changes

PMS can cause mood swings that can make you feel anxious at one moment and irritable at another for no reason.

Mood swings are one of the most common and most severe symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome. Such mood changes may go away by the start of your periods.

However, pregnancy can also cause mood swings or changes that may last throughout the pregnancy phase.

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    Breast Pain

    Breast swelling and tenderness can occur during the second half of your menstrual cycle due to PMS. There may be a feeling of breast fullness and dull pain.

    Such breast pain may subside during your period or right after it.

    Pregnancy can make the breasts feel fuller, heavier, and tender to the touch. Such swelling and tenderness usually happen one to two weeks after you conceive.


    Generally, there is no bleeding during PMS. Bleeding occurs once the period starts, which may last upto a week. PMS symptoms also go away at the beginning or during your periods.

    One of the first signs of an early pregnancy is light vaginal bleeding or spotting, and the blood may be dark brown or pink.

    The spotting usually lasts one or two days and occurs 10 to 14 days after conception.


    FatigueSource: Pixelshot
    Woman suffering from Fatigue

    High Progesterone is associated with fatigue. Progesterone levels rise during the luteal phase, which occurs just before periods.

    People with PMS-related fatigue may feel more energized once the period starts.

    Progesterone also rises during pregnancy, which can often make pregnant women feel tired. Such fatigue can last throughout the pregnancy. Eating and sleeping well may help you cope. 


    PMS Nausea refers to the sensation of nervousness and upset stomach that some women may experience before their periods. However, women with PMS rarely experience Nausea.

    Morning sickness is a classic sign of pregnancy that typically occurs a month after you get pregnant.

    Despite the name, pregnant women may experience Nausea at any time of the day.


    A person going through PMS can crave sugars, sweets, chocolates, or salty food. However, these cravings may not be as intense as during pregnancy.

    Cravings that occur during pregnancy may be very intense and highly specific. You may have an aversion towards certain foods and smells, which can last throughout the pregnancy.

    In rare cases, pregnant women may also experience Pica, an eating disorder in which the person craves non-food items like metal, dirt, charcoal, and ice.


    Cramping is a PMS symptom that commonly affects women before their periods. You may experience Dysmenorrhea 24 to 48 hours before your period if you have PMS.

    Such PMS cramps may go away during or by the end of your period.

    Pregnant women may also have light or mild cramps that may last for weeks to months. They occur in the lower abdomen and lower back and feel very much like PMS cramps.

    You should seek medical help immediately if cramps are accompanied by bleeding or watery discharge. 

    Dysmenorrhea refers to the pain that occurs during the menstrual cycle.


    Women can often confuse PMS for pregnancy because their symptoms can be very similar.

    However, the little details like intensity, duration, and timing of the symptoms can help you identify PMS from pregnancy.

    Symptoms like mood changes, breast pain, fatigue, cramps, Nausea, cravings, and bleeding can occur during PMS and pregnancy.

    When it comes to the duration and intensity of PMS symptoms vs pregnancy symptoms, they may be more intense and last longer during pregnancy.

    You can take a home pregnancy test to confirm a pregnancy. You should consult a healthcare provider if you are pregnant or miss three periods consecutively.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can stress exacerbate PMS symptoms?

    Yes, stress can worsen PMS symptoms. Managing stress through relaxation techniques may help alleviate symptoms.

    Are PMS symptoms the same for every woman?

    No, PMS symptoms vary among individuals. Some may experience mild symptoms, while others may have more intense and diverse symptoms.

    Can birth control help manage PMS symptoms?

    Yes, birth control can regulate hormonal fluctuations and alleviate certain PMS symptoms, but its effectiveness varies from person to person.

    Does caffeine worsen PMS symptoms?

    High caffeine intake may worsen PMS symptoms in some individuals. Moderation or caffeine reduction could be beneficial.

    Can PMS affect mental health?

    Yes, PMS may impact mental health, leading to mood changes and increased vulnerability to stress. Seeking support is essential for those experiencing significant emotional distress.

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    Photo of author Janet Fudge
    Jim Carson is a highly skilled and dedicated medical writer passionate about advancing medical practice. With years of experience in the field of medical sciences, Jim has made significant contributions to various studies aimed at improving healthcare outcomes. He currently writes for, providing expert insights and knowledge on various topics. Jim's expertise extends to various areas, including drug interactions, dosages, side effects, and best practices for medication use. In Los Angeles, Jim lives with his loving wife, children, and beloved pets. He deeply values spending time with his family and cherishes their presence. When he's not writing, Jim enjoys watching football games and staying updated with the latest sports news. Jim's writing shines through his commitment to advancing medical practice and improving healthcare outcomes. Readers can trust Jim's articles to be informative, accurate, and reliable, making him a trusted pharmaceutical information source for the website's audience.
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