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What are the Most Common Early Pregnancy Symptoms?

By Vicki Hogue-Davies
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Early symptoms of pregnancy vary between women and even can vary between pregnancies for the same woman. For some women, symptoms can show up within a few days of conception, and for others it might take weeks for symptoms to appear. Some of the most common early pregnancy symptoms are missed menstrual periods, fatigue, nausea and breast tenderness. Other early pregnancy symptoms can include bleeding, more frequent urination, changes in mood and food cravings. For sexually active women who show early pregnancy symptoms, it is important to take a pregnancy test, because these symptoms also can be caused by other things.

Missing a period is the most common of the early pregnancy symptoms that women notice. Sometimes the period is delayed, or blood flow is lighter rather than completely missing. Other reasons that a period might be missed are major body weight fluctuations, hormonal changes, stress and the use of birth control pills.

Being unusually tired is another common pregnancy symptom. Fatigue often is felt within the first week following conception. Other causes for fatigue can include depression, stress and physical illnesses such as colds or the flu.

Nausea and vomiting, called "morning sickness" in pregnant women, might first occur within two weeks to two months of conception. It can last throughout a pregnancy, but some lucky women never experience morning sickness at all. Other common causes of nausea that might be mistaken for morning sickness can include food poisoning, stomach flu and other ailments.

Breast tenderness is felt early on by some pregnant women. It often starts within a week of conception, and the breasts might appear swollen and feel uncomfortable or sore when touched. Other things that can cause breast tenderness include birth control pills and upcoming menstruation.

One of the earliest pregnancy symptoms is called implantation bleeding, which occurs when the embryo attaches to the uterus. It sometimes can cause blood spotting and cramping. There are other things that can cause the same symptoms, including intercourse, the menstrual period and infection or disease.

Frequent urination also is a common sign of early pregnancy and often starts about six weeks following conception. Early frequent urination is attributed to the increased blood in the body during pregnancy and the extra fluid processed by the kidneys. Later in pregnancy, frequent urination also is caused by the baby putting pressure on the bladder. Other non-pregnancy causes of increased urination, besides more liquid intake, can include urinary tract infection, diuretic use and illnesses such as diabetes.

Cravings for certain foods also can be an early sign of pregnancy. The craving doesn't necessarily have to be for a strange combination of foods, such as the stereotypical ice cream and pickles. It can include strong cravings for a variety of foods, depending upon the woman. Other reasons for food cravings can include nutrient deficiencies, depression and upcoming menstruation. Still other early pregnancy symptoms can include lower back pain, sensitivity to smells and changes in the physical appearance of the breast, such as darkening areolas.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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