How Soon Can You Tell if You're Pregnant? How to Know for Sure
How to Tell if You're Pregnant
Answering the burning question of whether you are pregnant or not can be easy or difficult depending on how far along you are, and also how well you know your own body. Many women can tell if they are pregnant within 2 or 3 weeks of conceiving, and some women know a lot sooner -- within a few days, even. It really depends on your ability to pick up on the changes occurring within your body and how sensitive you are to them.
Of course, you'll be able to find out for sure once you have missed your first period by doing a pregnancy test. Don't be tempted to take a pregnancy test before this point, though -- taking a pregnancy test too early will yield inaccurate results.
What Causes Pregnancy Symptoms?
If you know your body well, you may notice some subtle (or not-so-subtle changes) in the first few weeks of pregnancy. These are all caused by the changes in your hormone levels.
The pregnancy hormones rushing around your body will progressively increase the further down the road of pregnancy you are and so will the strength of the potential symptoms. You can go from feeling a little nauseous to being frequently sick in a matter of weeks. Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin hormone, or hCG, is the hormone that tells your body to increase progesterone levels and this is what makes your periods stop, as well as being responsible for most of the "symptoms" of pregnancy.
Over-the-counter pregnancy tests are testing for hCG in your urine and are very reliable because hCG levels are so much higher in pregnancy than when we are not pregnant -- in fact, they double every day.
The Early Signs of Pregnancy
Sometimes a confusing factor when trying to determine if you are pregnant is that all of the symptoms of pregnancy can be symptoms of other conditions. So, detecting the very early signs of pregnancy without having done a test can be tricky, especially if it is your first pregnancy. Once you are on to pregnancy 2, 3 or 4, you will more than likely recognise the signs quite quickly.
There are several early signs that can tell you that you may be pregnant. The most obvious is missing your period or having light spotting instead of a proper period.
Pregnancy is the number one reason for missing your period.
At the point of missing your period you are probably 1-3 weeks pregnant unless there is something else that could be interfering with your menstrual cycle (see below).
It can be possible to know you are pregnant even before that first missed period. On a personal note, I knew I was pregnant within 2 weeks of conceiving on each of the three occasions I've been pregnant.
How to Tell if You're Pregnant: 13 Early Signs and Symptoms
1. Extreme Tiredness
If you're trying to determine whether the feeling of being tired is one of the early pregnancy symptoms you are experiencing, then be aware that the kind of tiredness you'll feel within the first 4-6 weeks of conception is probably unlike any kind of tiredness you've felt before. You will feel exhausted and will more than likely be falling asleep on the sofa and will be wanting early nights and afternoon naps for no apparent reason.
2. Feeling Sick (Nausea)
Feeling nauseous is often one the first signs that you may be pregnant. The way to tell whether this is nausea caused by pregnancy, rather than a virus, is that the nausea tends to last all day and also tends to get increasingly worse over a period of weeks. In the early weeks you may just feel a bit sick, then later on it may progress to actually vomiting.
3. Metallic Taste in Mouth
The experience of constantly having a metallic taste in your mouth is a pregnancy sign that I am familiar with. It's difficult to describe, but your mouth feels like you have been sucking on a coin. It's a pregnancy symptom that is very common and is unmistakable (unless you have actually been sucking metal . . . if so, that's a very weird thing to do!)
4. Aversion to Certain Foods and/or Drinks
Do you suddenly dislike the taste of foods and drinks you used to love? Do they make you feel nauseous? If so, this is another common pregnancy symptom that many women experience. Common culprits are tea, coffee and alcohol.
5. Heightened Sense of Smell
Related to the point above (taste and smell are very closely linked), a heightened sense of smell is another common pregnancy symptom. Are you quite suddenly starting to feel nauseous from everyday smells such as soap, cooking or perfumes? This can be another early pregnancy sign to watch for.
6. Breast Changes
One of the first things most women notice and that causes us to suspect pregnancy is changes to our breasts. These changes can take on many forms, including prominent blue veins in the breast tissue. Some more of the common breast changes caused by pregnancy are listed below:
- Enlarged nipples
- Darkened nipples
- Sore breasts
- Swollen breasts
- Enlarged breasts
7. Feeling Dizzy and Light-headed
Another extremely common sign of pregnancy is having bouts of dizziness and/or light headedness. If you've been experiencing these sensations, have had unprotected sex recently and are sure you don't have a virus, then this could well be an early sign of pregnancy.
8. Increased Urination
Need to pee more often than usual? Waking up in the night to urinate when you normally wouldn't? These are both hints that you might be pregnant.
9. Light Spotting (Implantation Bleeding)
This is one of the least frequently experienced pregnancy symptoms, but it is something that you should take note of if you are wondering how soon you can tell if you are pregnant. Implantation bleeding is different from a normal period. It will usually last between 1-3 days, and will be intermittent spotting, rather than the constant flow of menstruation. Most women who have had implantation bleeding also say that it's more brown in color, rather than red.
10. Feeling Different
How can we put our finger on a sense of "feeling different?" If you just feel different inside for no apparent reason, this can be a sign of pregnancy. I have found it impossible to find any words that explain this feeling. I'm pretty certain that even if I could, my feeling different would be different from your feeling different. If you have a feeling you can't put your finger on, but you sense an internal change, then this could be an early sign of pregnancy.
11. Feeling Emotional
Keep bursting into tears or getting cross and snappy with people around you for no apparent reason? Check to make sure it's not a full or new moon and that it's not your normal PMS -- it could be a sign.
12. Missing Your Period
I mentioned this earlier but I'll say it again. Missing your period is the most obvious and clear sign that you are pregnant. If your period hasn't arrived on time, then it's time to take a pregnancy test.
13. Quick Weight Gain
Have you noticed that you can't do up your trousers or they feel a little more snug than usual? Putting on 4-8 pounds within a short time frame (a week or two) is another common sign of pregnancy to watch out for.
A Personal Note
Some of these pregnancy symptoms are hard to quantify, especially when it's something like "feeling different." But, you may well feel different somehow even though you can't explain how you feel different.
In my first pregnancy, the earliest signs for me were the enlarged nipples and breasts and breast tenderness as well as feeling dizzy, sick and extremely tired. And yes -- I did feel different!
During my second pregnancy, the most noticeable early symptoms were a metallic taste in my mouth, an aversion to drinking tea and a heightened sense of smell. This last symptom got worse and worse throughout my pregnancy and it became difficult to manage all of the smells that made me either feel sick or actually be sick. Smells I couldn't handle were anything soapy such as body wash and deodorant, perfume, aftershave and alcohol. There were a lot more, but these were the main ones.
Because early pregnancy symptoms can be confused with other illnesses or conditions, I would always recommend buying yourself a test. These are very accurate from the point that your period is due, and will take the guesswork out of knowing if you are pregnant or not.
- Pregnancy tests can be really expensive, but you can shop around as the prices will vary greatly. I bought a pack of three tests from a pound store (99c store) and they worked just fine. All the tests work in the same way by testing the hCG levels in your urine.
- It's always advised that you test your first urination of the day. This is because the urine is stronger and you will get a quicker result. Testing the weaker urine that you produce during the day may not give you the real result -- it may tell you that you're not pregnant when in fact, you really are (this actually happened to me).
- If you find you have a positive result, then it's time to book a doctor's appointment. The doctor may decide to do another pregnancy test to confirm your result.
For those who have missed a period and got a negative pregnancy test result, follow the link to learn about the most common reasons behind this.
It goes without saying that if you have had unprotected sex at any time during your menstrual cycle you could well be pregnant, even if it was your first time and even if your partner "pulled out." You could also be pregnant if your contraception failed. Remember, no form of contraception offers a fail safe 100% guarantee. If you're worried about pregnancy because you haven't taken precautions, you might want to read the real story about how to avoid pregnancy.
Other Reasons for Missing Your Period
- Very high levels of exercise
- The morning-after-pill
- Starting a new birth control method
- Hormone imbalance
If you suspect one of these reasons may be disrupting your normal menstrual cycle and you have a negative pregnancy test then you should speak to a health professional.
I hope I've provided enough information here to help you work out how soon you can tell if you are pregnant. If you are pregnant and wanted to be -- Congratulations!