When a woman experiences pain or discomfort in her abdomen, it is natural that she wants to understand the cause behind these signs. Sometimes it can be confusing to differentiate between menstrual pains or pregnancy symptoms, so here we will provide you with the definitive characteristics of both to help you determine the possible diagnosis.

Our goal is for you to understand the concepts and differentiate menstrual pain from pregnancy symptoms. We also want you to know why you also have headaches when you have your period .

What are menstrual pains?

menstrual pain or pregnancy symptoms

Menstrual pain, also known as dysmenorrhea, is common among women of reproductive age. They usually occur before or during the menstrual period and are characterized by cramps in the lower abdomen. Some key aspects of menstrual pain are:

  • Menstrual calendar : If you are experiencing abdominal pain and are close to your expected menstruation date, it is likely that the pains are simply premenstrual symptoms.
  • Duration : Menstrual pains generally last 1 to 3 days, although this may vary for each woman.
  • Intensity : Although period pains can be uncomfortable, they are usually not debilitating or extremely intense.

How to identify the signs of Premenstrual Syndrome?

Each month, many women experience a variety of symptoms before the arrival of their menstrual period.

These symptoms, known as premenstrual symptoms (PMS), can vary in intensity and duration from one woman to another.

Mood changes

One of the most recognized symptoms of PMS is mood swings. These may include:

  • Irritability: Feeling easily upset or frustrated by situations that normally wouldn't be a problem.
  • Anxiety and nervousness: Experiencing a generalized feeling of worry or nervousness without an apparent cause.
  • Depression: Feeling sad, discouraged or with a feeling of emotional emptiness.
  • Sudden mood swings : Going quickly from happiness to sadness or irritability for no apparent reason.

Breast swelling and tenderness

Many women experience physical changes in their breasts before their period, such as:

  • Breast swelling: Breasts may feel fuller, tighter, or heavier.
  • Sensitivity: The breasts may become more sensitive to touch or experience pain or discomfort.
  • Increase in size: Some women may notice an increase in the size of their breasts during this stage.

Fluid retention

menstrual pain or pregnancy symptoms

Fluid retention is a common symptom before menstruation and can manifest itself in several ways:

  • Abdominal bloating: You may experience a feeling of bloating or distension in the abdominal area.
  • Temporary weight gain: Due to fluid retention, you may notice an increase on the scale, which will disappear once your period begins.
  • Swelling in the extremities: Some women may notice that their hands, feet, or legs feel swollen or heavy.

Fatigue and changes in energy levels

Before menstruation, it is common to experience changes in energy levels and feel more tired than usual. We want to take this opportunity to tell you what you should and should not do when you have your period to minimize these associated symptoms, which include:

  • Generalized fatigue: Feeling tired and lacking energy during the day.
  • Sleepiness: Having a greater need to sleep or feeling sleepier than usual.
  • Lack of concentration: Difficulty concentrating or feeling that your mind is not as clear as usual.

Changes in bowel habits

Some women may experience changes in bowel movement patterns before their period, such as:

How to identify all the peculiar signs that say you are pregnant?

menstrual pain or pregnancy symptoms

Early in the first trimester of pregnancy, some women experience PMS-like symptoms, such as breast tenderness, fatigue, and changes in appetite. However, these symptoms are accompanied by the most obvious signs that would indicate a possible pregnancy such as delayed menstrual periods, vomiting, nausea and cravings.

Menstrual delay

One of the most common signs of pregnancy is lack of menstruation. If your period does not arrive on the expected date, especially if your menstrual cycle is regular, it could be an indicator of a possible pregnancy. However, it is important to keep in mind that there are other factors, such as stress or hormonal imbalances, that can also cause delays in menstruation.

Breast tenderness

During early pregnancy, it is common to experience breast changes, just as we do with PMS, but it is accompanied by other changes. Some signs to look out for are:

  • Sensitivity: Your breasts are more sensitive to touch and feel sore.
  • Swelling: You may notice that your breasts are fuller or larger than usual.
  • Nipple changes: You may notice darkening of the nipples or the appearance of small bumps known as Montgomery tubercles.

Nausea and vomiting

Morning sickness is a classic pregnancy symptom, although not all women experience it. These symptoms usually occur during the first weeks of pregnancy and can appear at any time of the day. If you suddenly feel sick or experience vomiting for no apparent reason, it could be a sign of pregnancy.

Fatigue and tiredness

menstrual pain or pregnancy symptoms

Pregnancy can cause an overwhelming feeling of fatigue and exhaustion, especially in the early stages. If you feel extremely tired, with a constant need to rest or lack energy to carry out daily activities, you may be pregnant.

Changes in appetite and cravings

During pregnancy, it is common to experience changes in eating habits. Some women may crave specific foods or develop aversions to certain smells or tastes. These changes in appetite can manifest as more or less hunger, and they can vary for each woman. Therefore, it is important that you know what you should and should not eat during your menstruation.

Increased urinary frequency

As your uterus grows and puts pressure on your bladder, you may feel the need to urinate more frequently than usual. This symptom can appear early in pregnancy and persist throughout pregnancy.

Emotional and hormonal changes

Pregnancy brings significant hormonal changes that can affect your mood and emotions. You may experience sudden changes in mood, feel more emotional, or have greater emotional sensitivity.

Pregnancy is an exciting and changing time in a woman's life. Identifying early signs of pregnancy can be key to confirming this stage and seeking appropriate prenatal care.

If you are experiencing symptoms that could indicate both menstrual cramps and pregnancy, it is essential to obtain an accurate evaluation. Here are some steps you can follow:

  • Take a pregnancy test: Home pregnancy tests are a quick and easy way to get an initial indication. Make sure you follow the instructions properly and take the test a few days after you miss your period.
  • Consult a medical professional: If your pregnancy test results are uncertain or if you are experiencing concerning symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention. A doctor will be able to provide you with an appropriate evaluation.

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Frequent questions

Do pregnant women experience PMS?

Premenstrual syndrome does not occur in pregnant women. However, some pregnancy symptoms are similar to those of PMS, such as crying for no apparent reason, sudden mood swings , breast tenderness, and even specific food cravings. These symptoms arise due to the notable hormonal fluctuations that women experience both during the days of PMS and throughout pregnancy.

Is there a solution for PMS?

In addition to oral contraceptive options, there are natural alternatives , herbal products, personalized formulas, and even subcutaneous implants. Sometimes, doctors suggest the use of regulated sedatives, which should be taken only in the recommended quantities and under medical supervision. It is essential not to start any treatment without having received an evaluation from a specialized professional.

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