HomePregnancyPMS vs Pregnancy Symptoms: How to Know The Difference?

PMS vs Pregnancy Symptoms: How to Know The Difference?


The symptoms of pregnancy and premenstrual syndrome can be similar, but there are also important differences that you should keep in mind. Both predispositions can produce breast tenderness and swelling and can also cause mood changes, such as crying spells.

While these symptoms are often similar, it is important to differentiate them in order to avoid unnecessary stress. If you are experiencing symptoms that are not consistent or don’t go away, it’s best to visit your doctor. 

Your doctor can order blood tests to see if you are pregnant or not. Even if your period is regular, it’s important to check for any irregularities in your cycle or other changes.

The difference between PMS and pregnancy symptoms is most evident in the presence of morning sickness, which typically sets in a month or so after conception.

Some women may feel hungry and crave certain foods. While cravings related to PMS may last for a couple of days, cravings during pregnancy can last throughout the entire pregnancy. 

In this article, we are going to discuss common pregnancy vs PMS symptoms and how to know the difference between the two. 

What Is PMS?

PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, is a common ailment that affects most women. It is caused by a drop in the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body. These hormones help regulate mood, sleep, and appetite. Women with these symptoms often experience irritability, mood swings, and insomnia.

Symptoms of PMS can vary from mild to severe. In severe cases, these symptoms can interfere with daily life. For these women, treatment must be tailored to address their individual needs. For severe cases, medications can help control the symptoms. 

Learning more about PMS symptoms can help you cope with them and manage them better. It is also useful to know how your body changes during this time of the month. By understanding how your body reacts to different hormones, you can tailor your routine to help manage PMS symptoms. 

Can You Tell the Difference between Period vs Pregnancy Symptoms?

Sometimes, it’s difficult to determine whether a woman is pregnant or suffering from PMS. If the symptoms don’t go away or are worse than usual, it’s best to seek medical advice. A pregnancy test will tell you if you’re pregnant or not.

PMS and pregnancy have many common symptoms. The two often overlap, making it difficult to tell one from the other. A woman who is pregnant has a slightly longer period and more tender breasts. But women with PMS often have no symptoms after menstruation begins.

Many women experience abdominal cramping before menstruation. These cramps are usually caused by hormonal changes. But early pregnancy can also lead to abdominal cramps and mild bleeding. It may also be accompanied by back pain. If you have this symptom, it’s likely that you are pregnant.

Mutual Symptoms of PMS and Pregnancy

The symptoms of pregnancy and PMS often resemble one another. To distinguish between the two, you should test for early pregnancy using a pregnancy test. You should also keep track of your symptoms and note any changes in them.

  • Changes In Mood

Mood changes are common during early pregnancy and PMS, and they can include depression, anxiety, or irritability. Changes in pregnancy hormone levels also can affect your digestive system. Changes in mood during PMS are a normal part of the menstrual cycle, and they usually return to normal after the period begins.

  • Fatigue

Fatigue is a common symptom of both PMS and pregnancy, caused by the fluctuating levels of progesterone and other hormones during the menstrual cycle. It usually subsides when the period arrives, but some women experience prolonged bouts of fatigue during the entire pregnancy.

  • Constipation

If you’re experiencing persistent bowel problems, this could be a sign of pregnancy or PMS. However, these symptoms usually subside once the woman’s period begins. During pregnancy, women suffer from constipation. It is also a symptom of PMS or the onset of a period. 

  • Breast Pain And Tenderness

The symptoms of PMS and pregnancy are similar in some ways. Both conditions can cause breast pain and tenderness. During early pregnancy, breasts may feel heavy and tender, and implantation bleeding may be noticeable. You might also experience breast pain during PMS. 

  • Bleeding or Spotting

PMS and pregnancy are two completely separate conditions, but the symptoms do have some similarities. Both are characterized by cramping and bleeding. Cramps and bleeding typically occur about 4 to 5 days before the start of your next menstrual period, and they last for about a day. 

  • Headaches And Back Pain

Women who are about to get their period may wonder if the pain they’re experiencing is PMS or a pregnancy symptom. The best way to determine if you’re pregnant is to take a pregnancy test. Headache and lower back pain are other common PMS and pregnancy symptoms. 

  • Cramping

PMS, premenstrual syndrome, and pregnancy share some common symptoms. One of the most common is cramping, which feels like a dull, downward feeling inside the womb. It usually affects the lower abdomen but can also occur in the lower back.

  • Changes In Appetite

Women who experience PMS or pregnancy may experience changes in appetite. Symptoms can include an increased desire for sweet or fatty foods, as well as cravings for high-carbohydrate meals. 

Pregnancy Vs PMS Symptoms: How to Know The Difference?

It’s important to know the difference between PMS symptoms and those of pregnancy. Here are some common pregnancy symptoms and how they differ from PMS.

  • Bleeding During PMS vs Pregnancy

Bleeding during PMS is very different from bleeding during pregnancy. The period is a different experience, as bleeding is more regular and lasts for a longer time. Generally, bleeding during pregnancy is pink or brownish in colour. Women may mistake it for period spotting, which is not normal. In addition, some women may also experience implantation bleeding, which differs from the menstrual flow. 

  • Cramping During PMS vs Pregnancy

Cramping during PMS can resemble pregnancy symptoms, but the two are different. While both conditions cause cramps, the cramps during pregnancy may last a little longer. A woman should consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis and not ignore severe symptoms.

  • Food Cravings During PMS vs Pregnancy

The cravings and changes in appetite caused by PMS can differ from those experienced during pregnancy. During PMS, women may crave carbohydrates, sweets, and salty foods. On the other hand, food cravings and aversions in pregnancy may be more extreme and may even last throughout the entire pregnancy. 

  • Mood Swings During PMS vs Pregnancy

Pregnancy and PMS are two conditions that can cause mood swings. These mood swings can range from extreme joviality to sadness. You may become upset at the tiniest of problems, or you might find yourself laughing over something silly. Mood swings in pregnancy will persist for more than two weeks. 

  • Fatigue During PMS vs Pregnancy

Fatigue during pregnancy is a common symptom. The hormonal changes caused by increasing progesterone levels and the fluctuating hormone levels during your period can leave you feeling drained and run down. It usually goes away once your period arrives, but if you are pregnant, it will last throughout the entire nine-month pregnancy. 

  • Headaches During PMS vs Pregnancy

Headaches during PMS and pregnancy are not uncommon. Depending on the cause, they may last anywhere from two to four hours. Headaches during pregnancy are often caused by changing hormone levels and increased blood volume. In PMS, headaches usually go away after a few days. 

  • Nausea During PMS vs Pregnancy

Nausea is one of the most common symptoms of early pregnancy and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Most women experience nausea and vomiting between two and eight weeks post-conception, and the condition usually continues during pregnancy. Symptoms of PMS can be mild to severe and can last from one day to several weeks. 

Unique PMS Symptoms

Here are some unique symptoms of PMS that you won’t experience during pregnancy. These symptoms only occur during PMS and are not common if you are pregnant. 

  • Cramping accompanied by no bleeding
  • Sudden increase in appetite
  • Untimely onset of acne

Unique Pregnancy Symptoms

Here are some unique symptoms of pregnancy that you won’t experience during PMS. These symptoms only occur during pregnancy and are not common if you are suffering from PMS. 

  • Missed periods or cycles of periods
  • Nipple changes
  • Light vaginal bleeding
  • Extreme morning sickness



  • Can Early Pregnancy Feel Just Like PMS?

Yes, early pregnancy can feel just like PMS as both conditions share many common symptoms like cramping, nausea, headache, increase in appetite, etc.

  • Where Do You Feel Period Cramps Vs Pregnancy Cramps?

Period cramps are uncomfortable, but they are not the same as pregnancy cramps. First, pregnancy cramps are felt in the lower stomach, back and side

  • What Kind of Breast Pain Indicates Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, you might experience sore, swollen and tender breasts. If your breasts are extremely sensitive to touch, it is a sign of pregnancy. But it is always better to take  a test and be sure.


PMS and pregnancy are two different conditions, but it is very difficult to differentiate between them during the early days. Both these conditions have the same symptoms. In order to differentiate between them, you need to know about signs of period vs pregnancy. If you want to be 100% sure, it is best to take a pregnancy test. You can also visit your doctor to get accurate test results and better plan ahead.

Srujana Mohanty
She is the Managing Editor of Cogito137, one of India’s leading student-run science communication magazines. She's been working in scientific and medical writing and editing since 2018, also associated with the quality assurance team of scientific journal editing. Majored in Chemistry with a minor in Biology at IISER Kolkata, Srujana loves doodling and watching series.


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