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Difference Between Pregnancy and PMS Symptoms

By Clark Sarullo ; Updated July 28, 2017

Identifying the first signs of being pregnant can be challenging because symptoms of PMS and early pregnancy are similar. Therefore it is important to listen to your body when you feel something isn't quite right. Several indicators of pregnancy like moodiness, breast tenderness and cramps are similar to a symptoms of menstruation. For the most part, early pregnancy will resemble PMS, but there are ways to help decipher the two conditions and know when to take a pregnancy test.

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PMS is a cluster of symptoms that occur one to two weeks before a woman's monthly period. A majority of these symptoms parallel with the early signs of pregnancy.


Aches and pains related to PMS and early signs of pregnancy include headaches, backaches and stomach cramps. Other shared symptoms include irritability, mood swings and fatigue.


A typical first sign of pregnancy is tiredness. In early pregnancy, the fatigue is unfamiliar and uncontrollable. Rest requirements are much more intense than with the fatigue associated with PMS.

Breast Tenderness

Breasts are tender a week before menstruation. In early pregnancy, the pain is far more intense, and reports of throbbing and an inability to get comfortable are common.


PMS is rarely said to cause nausea. Morning sickness due to pregnancy occurs two to eight weeks after conception and can happen before a missed period.

Missed Period

Menstrual cycles can often fluctuate, but a missed period paired with extremely tender breasts, fatigue and nausea are signs of early pregnancy.

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About the Author

Clark Sarullo is an experienced professional writer with expertise in natural skin care, hair care, nutrition, stress management, relaxation techniques, fitness and management of various health conditions. Other areas of expertise include personal finance, money management and debt solutions. Sarullo is based in Atlanta and holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the College of Charleston.

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