Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms

You could be reading this for one of a variety of reasons. Maybe you recently had unprotected sex, missed a period, or forgot to take your birth control. Maybe you just want to know! Both planned and unplanned pregnancies happen every day. The possibility of an unplanned pregnancy can cause feelings of stress or anxiety, but know that you are not alone. In fact, there was a 2011 study that noted that approximately 45% of all pregnancies in the US were unplanned (1). Even before taking a pregnancy test, you should know how to recognize some early signs of pregnancy.

What are the signs I may be pregnant?

Pregnancy symptoms can differ from person to person, but the most common signs of early pregnancy include:

  • A missed period (This is the most common indicator, unless you typically experience irregular menstrual cycles. It's also important to note that Plan B can also temporarily affect the regularity of your menstrual cycle.)
  • Swollen/tender breasts 
  • Nausea (with or without vomiting)
  • Increased urination
  • Fatigue or feeling really tired

Some other signs commonly experienced in the first trimester can include:

  • Mood changes 
  • Backache 
  • Headache
  • Food cravings
  • Bloating
  • Increase in vaginal discharge

I'm experiencing some of these symptoms. Now what?

If you are sexually active and have recently missed your period, here’s what to do:

  • It’s best to wait at least 10-14 days (about 2 weeks) after you had unprotected sex to test for pregnancy.
  • Urine pregnancy tests work by measuring levels of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). The presence of hCG typically indicates pregnancy and can be detected in urine as early as the first day of a missed period.
  • Occasionally, certain medications or health conditions can also cause a false positive result of a urine pregnancy test. Some of these include (2):

    • Medications – Sleeping tablets, opioids, tranquilizers, infertility medications, diuretics, some antipsychotics, and some allergy medications such as Promethazine
    • Health Conditions – having a deficiency in an important antibody used in immune function, rare pregnancy related tumors, rare uterine tumors, cancers of the intestinal tract or carcinomas of the bladder and urinary tract
  • If your test is positive, the next step is to medically confirm the pregnancy. A positive urine pregnancy test indicates the presence of the pregnancy hormone hCG in your system. However, it cannot confirm that the pregnancy is viable (able to develop healthily under normal conditions) and intrauterine (developing in the correct location, which is inside the uterus).
  • By medically confirming your pregnancy, you can determine how far along you are and if the pregnancy is currently viable. This information matters whether or not you intend to continue the pregnancy.
  • You can also contact an OB/GYN to make your first appointment; however, it’s important to note that most doctors will not schedule your appointment until towards the end of your first trimester (10-12 weeks). If you would like to confirm your pregnancy sooner, we can schedule you for a free ultrasound to confirm gestational age and viability.
  • If this pregnancy wasn’t planned, confirming your pregnancy empowers you with the information you need to begin exploring all your options. It’s time to do your research and find out what’s the best option for you.
  • You have 3 options: parenting, abortion, or adoption. None of these decisions are easy, and each has its own unique pros and cons. As the pregnant person, you have the autonomy to decide what you want for this pregnancy. For the sake of your own long-term well-being, it’s best to make your decision intentionally.
    • If you are parenting, find resources and care to support your pregnancy journey. We can help you get started!
    • In you are considering abortion, know the procedures available to you and any possible risks of your chosen procedure. One of our nurses would be happy to go over this information with you.
    • If you are thinking about adoption, research the different types of adoption and listen to true stories from birth mothers. You can find stories like these on
  • Know that there ARE resources available to you, whether you need financial assistance, emotional support, materials goods, housing, insurance, prenatal education classes, or something else. You are not alone! Contact us today to make a resource appointment.  

Reviewed by Lynn B., BSN, RN


Additional Resources

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