PMS or Pregnancy

Have you been experiencing irritability, a nagging sore back, insatiable hunger pangs, and low energy? These unpleasant symptoms may result from either premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or pregnancy at the early stage. This symptomatic similarity may make it challenging to discern whether you are pregnant or merely coming up to menstruation. This article will help you to discover the true cause of your symptoms.


Fatigue is a common sign of both PMS and pregnancy. This exhaustion normally occurs during both the first and third trimesters of pregnancy. It is therefore possible to experience this fatigue before realizing you are pregnant, which might lead you to believe you are simply suffering from PMS. Pregnancy fatigue is caused by elevated levels of the hormone progesterone combined with reduced blood sugar and low blood pressure.

Food aversions or cravings

Food aversion is a common sign of early pregnancy. The once beloved scent of frying bacon will suddenly evoke nausea, due to an increase in the beta-hCG hormone. While these food aversions are only symptomatic of the early stages of pregnancy, food cravings can result from either pregnancy or PMS. While salty or sweet food cravings indicate PMS, cravings of a stranger nature typically appear during the first trimester of pregnancy. A common example of such a craving might be peanut butter and pickles eaten together.

Increased urination

This annoying physical symptom is exclusively experienced during pregnancy. To add insult to injury, this frequent urination typically occurs at night.

Tender and swollen breasts

This is a common symptom of both PMS and pregnancy. During PMS, women experience tender and slightly enlarged breasts, referred to as "cyclical mastalgia," or "cyclical mastodynia". This symptom in PMS disappears during menstruation, while pregnant women will experience markedly swollen and tender breasts 1-2 weeks after conception.

Morning sickness

This is perhaps the most distinctive and iconic symptom of early pregnancy. Morning sickness is an unpleasant feeling of nausea, which is sometimes accompanied by vomiting. Not all women have morning sickness during the early stages of pregnancy, but those who do may experience it as early as three weeks after conception. Morning sickness is not a symptom of PMS.

Slight bleeding or cramping

This can be a sign of either PMS or pregnancy. Cramping during PMS is a common occurrence and will vary in severity for each woman. Not all women will experience cramping during early pregnancy, but some will feel mild abdominal cramping. Spotting or slight bleeding may actually be the first sign of pregnancy. This spotting is known as implantation bleeding and is caused by the fertilized egg being embedded into the uterine wall.

Below I have outlined the symptoms experienced with PMS, pregnancy, or both. I have also detailed the slight differences for symptoms inherent to both PMS and pregnancy.




Swollen and tender breasts

This will disappear once your period begins

This will manifest 1-2 weeks after conception and remain during the pregnancy

Morning sickness

This is not experienced during PMS

This is a common and distinctive sign of pregnancy


Spotting is not experienced during PMS, just menstruation

Slight spotting is normal during early pregnancy


This will differ in severity with each woman

Mild abdominal cramping may occur in early pregnancy, but not always

Food cravings

Cravings for sweet and salty food

Cravings for odd food combinations

Food aversions

Does not often occur during PMS

Aversions to certain food smells, sights, and tastes


Occurs during the days preceding menstruation

Experienced during the 1st and 3rd trimesters

Mood swings

Involves bouts of crying, anger, irritability, and sadness

Heightened emotions

Increased urination

Not experienced during PMS

Increased urination


Constipation or diarrhea


Missed period

You will experience your normal menstruation

You will miss your period



Menstruation will not be experienced

Back pain

PMS back pain is often radiated from pelvic or abdominal pain.

Lower back pain

Darkening of areolae

Not experienced during PMS

Darkening of areolae

Hopefully after reading this article you are now able to discern which of these two female conditions you are experiencing. If you are still unsure, you should either visit a doctor or take a home pregnancy test.