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Premenstrual syndrome vs Pregnancy Symptoms


What Is PMS?

Premenstrual syndrome is a combination of physical, emotional, psychological, and mood disturbances that some women experience after ovulation until their next period. Symptoms remain between five and eleven days before the menstrual flow and disappear on the onset of your period.

There is another severe form of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), also known as late luteal phase dysphoric disorder. While only a few women experience this condition, it does disrupt daily activities owing to unusually severe symptoms.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AACOG), about 85% of women experience at least one PMS symptom in their menstrual cycle

Most of them only experience mild symptoms that do not require any treatment. About 3% to 8% are known to have PMDD.

PMS is more common in women who are:

  • in their late 20s to early 40s
  • having a history of depression
  • having at least one child
  • having a medical history of any mood disorder or postpartum depression

What Causes PMS?

There is no concrete evidence on the exact cause of PMS. However, it is assumed that regular changes in the endocrine system, which makes hormones controlling the menstrual cycle, bring about PMS.

Certain conditions may affect PMS, without directly causing it. Those factors include:

  • Stress
  • Smoke
  • Depression
  • Lack of sleep
  • Lack of exercise
  • Low levels of vitamins and minerals
  • Over intake of salt, sugar and red meat
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeine

Some health conditions, such as asthma, allergies and migraine headaches, could turn worse before periods .

Let us now move to an important question….


What Are PMS Symptoms?

PMS shows up in varied ways – it is different from one woman to another. Here are some of the signs and symptoms of PMS.

Physical signs include:

  • Acne
  • Cramps
  • Sore breasts
  • Bloated tummy
  • Hunger pangs
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Joint pain
  • Weight gain
  • Pimples
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Fatigue

Emotional signs include:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Anxious or tensed behavior
  • Mood swings
  • Crying bouts or episodes
  • Urge to be alone
  • Sleeplessness
  • Anger outbursts
  • Overwhelmed feelings

Behavioral signs of PMS include:

  • Loss of mental focus
  • Forgetting things

Differences Between PMS And Pregnancy

Read on to get more clarity on the oncoming pregnancy or periods.

1. Bleeding;

PMS: You will not have any bleeding or spotting until your period starts.

Pregnancy: You will see light spotting (pink or dark brown) at the time of implantation (happens 10 to 14 days after conception) when the embryo attaches itself to the uterus. It lasts for a couple of days.

2. Fatigue:

PMS: You feel exhausted even if you have not done anything strenuous and it goes away when your periods are round the corner . You feel better with a little bit of rest.

Pregnancy: If your periods are delayed, and you are experiencing extreme fatigue, it can be a symptom of pregnancy. It lasts throughout pregnancy due to the surge in progesterone levels that causes a drop in blood pressure and sugar levels.

3. Food cravings/aversions:

PMS: Your eating habits are likely to change when you have PMS. You will crave for sweets, chocolates, carbohydrates or salty foods, and you will develop a ravenous appetite. Although you crave for some foods, you can easily resist the cravings and temptations.

Pregnancy: You will have extreme cravings for some foods, and have aversions to some others. Some women also suffer from a food eating condition – pica – where they feel like eating non-food items such as dried paint flakes, metal pieces, and ice. In this case, you should consult your doctor immediately . These signs do not show in a PMS.

4. Nausea and vomiting:

PMS: Women do not nauseate or vomit when their periods are late, so you can confidently rule out nausea as a premenstrual syndrome symptom.

Pregnancy: Most women feel nauseous during early pregnancy. If your periods are delayed and you are extremely nauseous, you may be pregnant. Nausea begins anytime after two to eight weeks post conception, and continue throughout pregnancy

5. Abdominal or pelvic cramping:

PMS: Cramps or dysmenorrhea during PMS is common, and the severity varies according to the genetic disposition and body system. However, as bleeding starts, the pain decreases and slowly goes away as the flow ends.

Pregnancy: When the fertilized egg embeds into the uterine wall, it causes mild abdominal cramping along with spotting during early pregnancy. You will experience cramps in the lower back or lower stomach, which continue for weeks or even months, lasting much longer than PMS cramps.

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