Mon | Jan 21, 2019

PMS or pregnancy symptoms? How to tell the difference

Published:Monday | October 22, 2018 | 12:00 AM


Imagine being nauseous for days with sore breasts and unusual food cravings, too, with perpetual abdominal cramps. These symptoms are also accompanied by extreme fatigue. You're not pregnant. What you were experiencing was just premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.

Oftentimes, many women get their hearts broken when this happens, especially if they have been trying to conceive for a while. Early pregnancy signs and PMS indicators are very similar. But is there a way to tell the difference? According gynaecologist Kiri-an Bridgewater, yes, you can. And it starts with you knowing your body.

"It's common for women to confuse the two. So, it is important for a woman to take note of the changes that normally occur in her body throughout her cycle. This way she can easily identify when something is out of the ordinary," the doctor explained.With early observation, knowing for certain if you are indeed expecting is not an easy feat. Features signalling conception can start as early as a week before you miss your period. This is the same as premenstrual syndrome, which Dr Bridgewater told Flair can last for a minimum of five days and a maximum of 10. Your menses will arrive at the end of each monthly PMS episode.

At times, you'll have a strong gut feeling that you are pregnant. And there is nothing wrong with that; oftentimes it's true. This is why you should be looking for symptoms that are not similar to the two conditions. Certainly, nausea and vomiting are more common in early pregnancy than in PMS; nonetheless, there are other ways to tell whether or not you are having a baby.

As the expert notes, "Other symptoms more commonly seen in early pregnancy are your nipples will darken as well as the area around it called the areola, and mild intermittent spotting. Of course, remember if you get your period at the usual time, for the usual length, then you'll be able to tell the difference."




Moderate to severe symptoms need to be assessed by your doctor. Dr Bridgewater asserts that oral contraceptive pill or antidepressants may be required for your relief.

And if these symptoms affect your daily functioning, whether you believe they are caused by an egg being successfully fertilised and implanted in your womb, or have concluded that it's PMS, you need to seek medical assistance.

PMS can be confused with other health concerns, such as anaemia (low blood count), thyroid disease, depression, and some autoimmune conditions.

"But regular exercise can significantly decrease the severity of PMS symptoms. Also dietary changes such as avoiding caffeine, salt and alcohol, and adding foods high in calcium and vitamin B6 during the one or two weeks before your period can also help," she advised.