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You are here: Home - Pregnancy - Signs of Pregnancy

Am I Pregnant or is this PMS?

by Katlyn Joy | July 25, 2014 7:40 AM

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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Showing 1 - 10 out of 41 Comments
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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.

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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.

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Elsað Aug 13, 2017 04:46:03 AM ET

I'm 5days late on my period today. been bloated. lower back pain. frequent urination at night. tiredness and sleepiness. noticed tingly nipples yesterday. my tummy feels sensitive not cramps or pain just discomfort. for a few days i've had to loosen my pants button or zip to feel comfortable and oh gas! darn. i've been farting. and the hunger pangs too. usually i have serious pms symptoms especially painful cramps but none this time. had unprotected sex in my fertile window (2weeks before my period due date which was 8/8) last sex was exactly a week ago today. should i still wait to run a pt? or i could still get my period? because my cycle is currently 39 days today with the delay. advise please. thanks

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Andrea Jul 31, 2017 08:08:58 AM ET

My period was due yesterday but didn't show.....should i wait to take a test?

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Asheley Jan 21, 2017 12:06:51 PM ET

Hi i had sex on january 7th and ovulated the 11th, but 2 days after i had mild cramping ever since then, also for the first week i had no appetite whatsoever and i did notice a little pink stuff when i wiped myself but only when i wiped. also my nipples just started feeling i pregnant? could i be? i have noticed i had cramps and thought my period was coming on an it was a whole week before it's due.

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Pvz Nov 26, 2016 02:19:07 PM ET

Hi. i'm 4days late. i'm experiencing sleeplessness, i'm short tempered, always crying... and now i'm confused. could i be pregnant?

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Rose Sep 30, 2016 07:44:56 PM ET

Hi, my last period was on 25th aug and i had sex in first week of september almost complete week. i am about to get my period on 25th sept but it's delayed. i feel that i am about to get my period but not untill now. i'm confused totally.

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Judie Dec 2, 2014 09:01:08 AM ET

Hi. i am 36 years old. i have been trying to have a baby for 2 years. i was supposed to get my period on the 20th of nov, but i didn't. i had sex on the 25th of nov, but i haven't gotten my period. will i be pregnant?

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