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Am I Pregnant or is this PMS?

by Katlyn Joy | July 25, 2014 7:40 AM59 Comments

When it's that time of the month, where the calendar has a red circle, and you're expecting your period, but it doesn't start, you can't help but wonder; "Am I pregnant, or is my period just late?" Without taking a pregnancy test, it's hard to tell because the symptoms of PMS or pre-menstrual syndrome and early pregnancy are very similar. So let's look at some common symptoms of pregnancy and PMS and see if yours fit more in line with pregnancy or period signs.


This one is possible for either condition. However, is this bloating you are experiencing typical of your regular PMS? Is it less obvious or more obvious now? Is your tummy even a bit tender? Some women experience some tenderness or sensitivity along with bloating when in early pregnancy.


Cramps are a definite big symptom of PMS, and not usually associated with early pregnancy. However, some women will experience some discomfort and fullness, perhaps even mild cramps. Painful cramps that are like your usual period cramps are not expected in pregnancy. If cramping does occur in the early weeks, you should see a doctor as it could possibly indicate an impending miscarriage, or if it gets worse, an ectopic pregnancy.


A hallmark of PMS, moodiness ranging from being short-tempered to weepy is also connected to early pregnancy. This typically improves in mid-pregnancy, only to resurface in the final weeks, sometimes with a vengeance.

Back pain or aches.

While back pain is one of the most common complaints of pregnancy, it doesn't usually surface until later in pregnancy when your figure has blossomed, to say it sensitively. The weight gain and the center of gravity being off will cause back pain in the second and almost always in the last trimester. If you have back pain now, it's a better indicator of an impending period.


Do you normally feel tired as your period approaches? If so, is this the same level or intensity of fatigue? If you feel extraordinarily tired, to where you just feel depleted, that would be a stronger indication of pregnancy.

Food aversions.

This is a key element of morning sickness, even if you never experience vomiting. However, some women commonly feel some nausea or queasiness with PMS as well. The way to differentiate is to know your body. If you normally don't feel sick with the smell of garlic or greasy food, but now it sends you running to the restroom, that might mean you're expecting a baby rather than Aunt Flo.


Food cravings are regular features of PMS. What would a trip to the store be without a box of tampons, a pound of chocolate and a bag of chips around that time? When pregnant, food cravings most likely won't start until the tail end of the first, or into the second trimester, when you begin to gain weight.

Breast tenderness.

This is a major symptom for both PMS and pregnancy. How to know the difference? If you usually have some tenderness around menstruation, but now it's much more severe and possibly involving different parts of your breast or different kinds of pain or sensitivity than you are used to, it may be that you are expecting.

General feeling that your period is about to start any moment.

Believe it or not, that could be a sign of either your period or pregnancy. Often women report that they were sure they were about to start, and day after day slipped by with no period.


OK, you're thinking, that has to be a sign of PMS, right? Yes, but it can also occur in early pregnancy. A number of women will spot around the time their period would be due, sometimes more than one month. It's not usually as heavy as a normal period, but rarely it can be. For bleeding that becomes heavier than a usual period, and is accompanied by strong cramping or sharp intense pains, you should see the doctor, in case of a miscarriage or a tubal pregnancy.

A feeling that you are pregnant.

This is highly subjective. Many women swear they just felt different, or had an inkling that they were pregnant. However, if you are hoping to be pregnant, it can be a case of over-thinking combined with wishing, that may make you feel different.

Tell us in the comments area below, what symptoms have you experienced that made you run to get a pregnancy test?

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When a Missed Period Means You're Pregnant


Showing 1 - 10 out of 48 Comments
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Unknown May 8, 2018 08:35:22 PM ET

My period was supposed to come 5-3-18. today is 5-8-18. my boobs are super sore and i've been cramping on and off since 5-1-18. sometimes i cramp as if my period is coming at any moment, but nope! should i take a pregnancy test now or wait a few more days? help please! i've never been pregnant and i don't know whats wrong with my body. my periods are always on time.

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Candice Evelyn Mar 17, 2018 10:36:52 PM ET

My period isn't due until the last couple of days of the month but, my boobs are killing me and massive. i swear this isn't my norm.

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Tammy Mar 8, 2018 02:30:34 PM ET

I am waiting 37 days as my flo calendar says, but i've been on a injection, only went twice since i've got it, then i've changed to a contraceptive pill. i took an early detective pregnancy test and it came out negative. should i just wait for my period!? because of my changes of contraceptives. need some answers please.

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Ramona Feb 27, 2018 09:46:38 PM ET

I'm a month past my period after tomorrow and i feel all symptoms of my period bloating, craving, and feeling emotional and irritable. i feel extremely tired. i even checked my iron which was 14, good. i took a pregnancy test negative. i think it could be my hormones.

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Crystal Jan 19, 2018 06:07:49 PM ET

Me and my fiance have actively been trying to have a baby. i have two boys from bf before him so this would be our first together. my period is always on the same day, give or take a couple of hours. well my period is over due by 2 days! i have been extremely tired, to the point i have zero energy to get out of bed. falling asleep on the couch! (haha) super sensitive to everything. my nipples are tingling, but my boobs don't hurt. i lost my appetite, only eat at night now. but i've taken 2 tests, both have come back negative. with both my boys i never got a positive until past 2 months pregnant and i got my period first couple months. could i be getting a false negative?

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Gracie Dec 16, 2017 01:29:50 AM ET

Husband and i been having unprotected sex for months. af not due for another 9 days. been so emotional for the last few days, cramping lightly now and then for a couple days and really tired. shortness of breath and dizziness come now and again too. don't usually experience crazy emotions and cramps until a few days before my period. possibly pregnant?

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Amy Sep 26, 2017 12:28:56 AM ET

You had this wrong about not cramping or having period like cramps in early pregnancy, or that it's dangerous. i had this with my son, and kept thinking i was miscarrying. i didn't miscarry, obviously, and i cramped a lot, back and front with my son.

Guest Feb 14, 2018 02:25:05 PM ET

Me too. and i cramped badly and got scared for nothing. i never bled once and i had a healthy baby girl. so misleading.

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Q Sep 21, 2017 03:12:37 PM ET

My period is 1 day late. i have a white discharge and period like cramps. negative pregnancy test.

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Hope Sep 19, 2017 01:21:30 PM ET

My flow is due since 13days, i'm experiencing severe backache, more pain than usual pms. i'm feeling bloated, on and off nausea. have to go frequently to the loo. more often then before. i have not done any test yet. should i go for a test or should i wait for my flow? and i usually don't have regular cycles. but this time the backache is different. help.

Guest Sep 28, 2017 02:44:15 PM ET

Me too. exact same story except, my period is supposed to come in 3 days but who knows if it will.

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Guest Sep 15, 2017 08:24:09 PM ET

I suffer from pms and normally have heavy long periods. tender sore breast, nausea, lightheadedness, you name it. i feel as i am pregnant every month, prior to my first day of my new cycle. this time i am concerned, because i had a dark brown, short, not heaving discharge and i have continued to have symptoms... sore, tingling, tender, full uterus discomfort, nausea, lightheadedness, all still there even though the discharge(abnormal period) was over in two days. i am concerned if i may or may not be. i guess what is most scary is fearing something else other than having a baby at my age.

Guest Jan 11, 2018 07:42:46 PM ET

So, were you?

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