A missed period is the most common reason for women to take a pregnancy test. But some women experience pregnancy symptoms days before their period is due. As a result of the shift in hormones, tiny changes take place in the body that alert the woman that she may be pregnant even before a positive pregnancy test. Women who develop these symptoms before a missed period are, likely, very in tune with their body and are sensitive to even the tiniest hormonal changes. These very early pregnancy symptoms may occur up to a week before there are enough pregnancy hormones circulating in the body to give a positive pregnancy test result.
A strong aversion to smells can be one of the first early pregnancy signs. This occurs rather rapidly and is usually first noticed in the kitchen. Women who experience this symptom often report that the aroma of common foods and drinks that never bothered them before will suddenly send them running from the room. This can be frustrating for women who suddenly find themselves repulsed by foods they normally enjoy. Doctors have not confirmed the cause for this strong aversion to smells, but many believe it is a result of the increasing levels of progesterone that occur early in pregnancy. Some women are so highly sensitive to smell during early pregnancy that they cannot even run water from the faucet without gagging from the smell of chlorine.
Some women experience cramps early in pregnancy. This is usually due to the fertilized egg, or embryo, implanting into the uterus. Implantation occurs 8 to 10 days after ovulation, which is 4 to 6 days before a missed period would occur. Because the cramping occurs right around the time that menstrual cramps would begin, many pregnant women mistake early pregnancy cramping with the cramps that occur right before their period arrives. Some women hold off on a pregnancy test even after a missed period because of these cramps. They swear that their period is right around the corner, only to learn shortly after that they are indeed pregnant.
Nausea can be another early indicator of pregnancy. The majority of pregnant women do not complain of morning sickness until the 6th week of pregnancy, 2 weeks after a missed period. But for some women, that nagging feeling can start as early as one week after conception, a full week before a missed period. Changes in hormones account for the queasiness that occurs. Nausea can occur with or without vomiting, and can be present all day long. Most women will find relief when they make it to their second trimester, around the 14th week of pregnancy. For some, morning sickness may last right up until delivery. Although there is no evidence to prove the theory, some doctors say that this nausea is actually a good thing, as it shows that the hormones needed to sustain the pregnancy are very strong. Others believe there is no correlation between the two and that some women are just more sensitive to pregnancy hormones than others.
Later in pregnancy as the fetus grows and presses on the bladder, there is an increased need to urinate. But hormonal changes early in pregnancy increase the speed of the blood flow to the kidneys. When this happens, the bladder fills up quicker, which leads to the need to urinate more often. For some women, this is the first noticeable sign of pregnancy, even before a missed period. This frequent urination will continue right up until delivery, and will intensify as hormones get stronger and the baby gets bigger.
Fatigue is another early pregnancy symptom that develops rather suddenly. One day a woman is going about her normal day without a hitch, the next day she can’t find the strength to get up out of bed in the morning. Again, it is the rise in progesterone that is believed to be the culprit. Most women describe the fatigue of early pregnancy as completely exhausting. Because it can occur before a missed period, many women mistakenly think they are coming down with the flu or another illness, only to later learn that pregnancy was the underlying cause.
Early in pregnancy when progesterone is on the rise, breasts can become tender. Many women experience sore breasts just before their period begins. But for some, the tenderness that occurs early in pregnancy is much more severe. Some women report that they cannot even face the stream of water in the shower because their breasts are so sensitive. Although the majority of women will continue to have tender breasts throughout their pregnancy, most will find that the intensity decreases significantly once they reach the second trimester.
Darkening of the areolas, which is the dark area around the nipple, occurs during pregnancy. This is due to the presence of the pregnancy hormone HCG. Some experts believe that darkening of the areola is nature’s way of helping the baby to find the nipple for nursing. The areola can become slightly darker very early in pregnancy, even before a missed period. As the pregnancy progresses, the shade will continue to deepen. In addition to darkening, the areola will become enlarged. In most cases, the areola will return to its normal shape and size after the pregnancy.
Immediately after the egg has been fertilized, a woman’s basal body temperature will increase slightly. When a woman ovulates, her basal body temperature will elevate slightly. If the egg is not fertilized, the temperature will return to normal after 2 weeks. When it remains elevated, there is a good chance that a pregnancy has occurred. This rise in temperature is so slight, that most women will not notice it unless they have been charting their basal body temperature as a way of tracking fertility. For those women who are using basal body temperature charting, the elevated temperature will let them know that they have likely conceived anywhere from a week to 2 days prior to a missed period.
A few days prior to a missed period, many women experience light spotting. If no other pregnancy symptoms are present, they may just think that their period is starting a few days early. Spotting is believed to be the result of the fertilized egg implanting into the uterus. It is a light pink or brown color and generally lasts up to 3 days. This may occur simultaneously with abdominal cramping, both as a result of implantation.
Some women experience a metallic taste in their mouth very early in the pregnancy. This often occurs together with a strong aversion to certain odors. The cause is unknown, though most experts blame it on shifting hormones. Women who experience this pregnancy symptom often complain that they have a lingering metallic taste in their mouth all day. Many describe it as tasting like they were sucking on pennies. Some women will find that this disappears after the first trimester, while others will suffer from it for the entire 9 months.