Cramps but No Period: 7 Early Pregnancy Symptoms

Medically reviewed by Kimberly Dishman, MSN, WHNP-BC on June 9, 2016Written by Jessica Timmons

Cramps but no period

Intro

Your breasts are sore, you’re tired and cranky, and you’re craving carbs like crazy. You also may be experiencing uncomfortable cramping.

Sounds like you’re about to start your period, right? It may surprise you to learn that these symptoms could all be early signs that you’re pregnant, not premenstrual.

Here are seven common early pregnancy symptoms.

Early symptoms of pregnancy

Every woman and every pregnancy are different. But many moms-to-be experience early pregnancy symptoms. The majority of these symptoms are related to surging hormones. It’s important to understand that all of these symptoms aren’t exclusive to pregnancy. That means there are other reasons that you could be experiencing them.

According to a poll from the American Pregnancy Association, 29 percent of the women surveyed noted that a missed period was their first sign of pregnancy. Often, there are other common symptoms of early pregnancy.

1. Cramps

Cramps are a typical part of your monthly menstrual cycle, but did you know they could be experienced in early pregnancy, too? Some women notice mild uterine cramps in the first few weeks of pregnancy.

2. Your breasts feel different

Breasts that are tender, sore, or swollen can be a sign of an impending period. But these same symptoms can also indicate that you’re pregnant. Hormonal changes during early pregnancy can cause breasts to feel sensitive or sore. They can also feel heavier or more full. You may notice that your areolas, or the skin around your nipples, are becoming darker.

3. You’re feeling nauseated

Morning sickness is a classic symptom of early pregnancy. It can persist into later trimesters, too. Despite the name, moms-to-be may feel nauseated at any time of the day or night, not just in the morning. Morning sickness can sometimes begin as early as three weeks after conception.

4. Headaches

Blame this symptom on those early pregnancy hormones and an increase in the volume of your blood. Together, they can mean more frequent headaches. If you suffer from migraines, you may experience more of them during pregnancy. Some women also experience fewer migraines.

5. You’re completely exhausted

Fatigue is another by-product of soaring hormones at the beginning of a pregnancy. Progesterone in particular is the culprit here: It can make you feel very tired.

6. Food aversions

Food cravings and aversions are another classic sign of pregnancy. Again, blame this on hormones.

7. Dizziness

You may notice feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness if you move quickly from a reclined to a seated position, or if you stand up suddenly. During pregnancy, your blood vessels dilate and your blood pressure drops. Together, they can make you feel lightheaded.

Other symptoms of pregnancy

There are other symptoms of early pregnancy you might experience, including:

  • You’re bleeding, but only slightly. For some women, an early symptom of pregnancy is spotting. It’s called implantation bleeding, and it happens about 10 to 14 days after conception when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. This kind of bleeding doesn’t last long, and it usually happens around the time you’d normally have a period. This can be misleading. The difference is that implantation bleeding isn’t typically as heavy as menstrual bleeding.
  • You’re having mood swings. If you’re feeling particularly emotional or find yourself bursting into tears, it can be a result of pregnancy hormones.
  • You’re constipated. It’s not comfortable, but a sluggish digestive system is another hormone-related issue that some women experience during pregnancy.
  • You’re experiencing backaches. While lower back pain can be a problem for the length of a pregnancy, some women notice it very early on.
  • You need to use the bathroom more frequently. Somewhere between six to eight weeks after conceiving, you may find that you have an increased need to urinate, but don’t feel any pain or urgency.

Next steps

While all of these symptoms can be signs of early pregnancy, they can also mean something else altogether. The reverse is also true: You may have none of these symptoms, but be pregnant.

A missed period can also be unrelated to a pregnancy. It could be due to:

Even so, if you miss a period, or if you notice any of these symptoms, it’s not a bad idea to take a home pregnancy test. A positive test means you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Jessica
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