woman holding pregnancy test in bathroom

Could you be pregnant?

If you're wondering whether or not you could be pregnant, not knowing for sure can be particularly nerve-wracking. Unfortunately, the symptoms of early pregnancy may very closely resemble the symptoms of PMS, so it can be very difficult to know for sure before a positive pregnancy test. Even a missed or late period does not conclusively indicate pregnancy. However, there are some signs you can look to get a better sense of whether or not you've conceived.

  • Elevated BBT: Basal body temperature spikes a few days after ovulation and retreats to a normal level as you approach your period. If you've conceived, BBT won't drop, but will remain elevated through the pregnancy as a result of fluctuating hormones. Because the difference in BBT is so small between the pre- and post-spike measurements, you’ll have to have been tracking your BBT for at least a cycle or two for it to provide any insight.
  • Implantation bleeding: Implantation bleeding is a very common symptom of early pregnancy, and occurs as the embryo displaces tissue when it embeds itself into your uterus, approximately 7-10 days after fertilization. Many people will mistake this bleeding or spotting for the start of their period, so take note if you experience slight spotting with a pink or brownish tint before your expected period.
  • Cramping: It's not uncommon to suffer from slight abdominal cramping as the embryo imbeds itself into the uterus. Like implantation bleeding, this cramping is often confused for PMS cramps, as they will usually happen a few days to a week before an expected period.
  • Breast tenderness/changes: Due to an increase in hormones, individuals who've just conceived may notice sore, swollen breasts, or a darkening of the areolas (the area around the nipple) as their first symptoms. Make sure you log any physical symptoms that you notice after ovulation to help get a better picture of whether or not you conceived.

How can you know for sure?

Although some people can recognize that they're pregnant based on symptoms witnessed in the few days after fertilization, most don't have a solid clue until they miss their first period. So no matter what gave you the idea that you could be expecting, you'll want to take a home pregnancy test as soon as you can. Home pregnancy tests search for the presence of the hormone human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), which is released as the embryo implants itself into the uterus. Some test products claim that they can successfully detect conception as soon as ten days following ovulation, but most kits that test urine take a bit longer, and the results become more accurate the longer you wait to take a test.

How should you proceed if you get a positive pregnancy test result?

If you've been trying to get pregnant, this might be incredibly welcome, joyful news. If you weren't trying to get pregnant, the news might be rather surprisng, to say the least. And, regardless, many people find themselves surprised or overwhelmed by the range of emotions that they're feeling. Everyone reacts differently after seeing a positive pregnancy test result, and however you're feeling is totally okay. But the next step that applies to everyone is to calling your healthcare provider to set an appointment to confirm the pregnancy. In the meantime, see that you take good care of yourself for whatever comes next.

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