Narong Jongsirikul/Fotolia

Can You Have Pregnancy Symptoms Before A Missed Period? An Expert Explains

Ad failed to load

When people say "life is about the journey, not the destination," they aren't talking about pregnancy. This is one situation in which the outcome is definitely the point and the journey can be a mixed experience. On the one hand, you and your partner may feel closer as you share the anticipation of a positive pregnancy test. However, the pressure to have sex on the right days can make lovemaking feel more like a task than a romantic activity. And then there's all the waiting and wondering. Like can you have pregnancy symptoms before a missed period? Experts say it's impossible to know for sure, but there are some signs that may indicate a baby's on the way.

According to Adrienne Zertuche, OB-GYN at Atlanta Women's Healthcare Specialists, "The cardinal sign of early pregnancy is when a woman does not start her menstrual cycle within one week of when she expects it." Other common symptoms of early pregnancy include nausea, vomiting, breast enlargement and tenderness, increased frequency of urination, and fatigue. You may notice some of these before a missed period, however, Zertuche adds that "many of these [symptoms] can be subtle!"

Additionally, some early pregnancy symptoms may actually be caused by other medical issues. "Mild menstrual-like cramps (without bleeding), bloating, constipation, food cravings and aversions, mood changes, and lightheadedness" are all potential signs of both pregnancy and other conditions. Zertuche says, "If you experience any of these symptoms, especially in the setting of a missed period, you should take a home pregnancy test and call your OB-GYN. He or she will decide if you need to be evaluated in the office and have further testing done."

Ad failed to load
Giphy

For those of us who haven't thought about fertility cycles since middle school health class, Romper asks Zertuche for a refresher on conception timelines and when you can first take a pregnancy test. "Typically, a woman’s ovary releases an egg approximately two weeks after her last menses began. When a sperm fertilizes this egg, the resultant cell (zygote) rapidly divides into a collection of cells called an embryo. Over the course of the next week, the embryo travels along the fallopian tube and into the uterus, where it implants in the cavity (endometrium). Supported by the mother’s surrounding cells and blood supply, the embryo then begins to grow and develop into what will later become the fetus and placenta. This rapidly dividing tissue produces hCG (the pregnancy hormone). Once the urinary hCG level rises high enough — which will be typically within a few days of the woman’s next expected menstrual cycle — a home pregnancy test will turn positive," explains Zertuche.

One of the biggest challenges women face when trying to conceive is figuring out when their most fertile days are and when the egg has been released. Romper asks Zertuche about methods for tracking fertility in order to improve your chances of successful conception. "While it is not mandatory, keeping a menstrual calendar may be valuable to a woman trying to get pregnant so that she can determine the timing of her fertile window," she says. "If day one is considered the first day of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and her period typically occurs approximately every 28 days, she can expect to ovulate on day 14. The fertile window is the three to five days leading up to and including the day of ovulation (i.e. days 10 to 14). To maximize the chances of pregnancy, a woman and her partner should have intercourse every day or every other day during this fertile window," says Zertuche.

Ad failed to load
Giphy

Beyond using a simple calendar, "Other methods for fertility tracking include measurement of basal body temperature, evaluation of cervical mucus, and ovulation predictor kits," says Zertuche, who recommends consulting with an obstetrician to learn more about any of these methods.

Finally, I asked Zertuche for conception advice specifically for women with irregular periods or longer-than-average cycles, which can make it harder to track and identify your fertile days. "If a woman’s cycle is longer than 28 days, she should estimate that her day of ovulation is approximately 14 days prior to her anticipated next period. For instance, if her cycles occur every 30 days, she probably ovulates on day 16. If her cycles occur every 32 days, she probably ovulates on day 18," says Zertuche, adding that "if a woman’s cycle is irregular, she should consult with an obstetrician. She may need testing to determine why her cycles are irregular, a medication to ensure that she is ovulating, or counseling on how to track and maximize her fertility."

Ad failed to load

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}