When I was trying to conceive (TTC), it got to the point where I was obsessing over every little symptom and hoping and praying it meant I was pregnant. I searched online for all of the bizarre pregnancy symptoms that could happen, so one September when I caught a random cold a week or so before I was supposed to start my period, of course I Googled, "Is a cold a sign of implantation?" Now hear me out before you judge, because as odd as it may sound, most of my friends told me they caught a random cold right before they found out they were pregnant. I found some articles online with conflicting answers saying it does happen, and some that claimed it doesn’t. Since it turned out I was pregnant (yay!), I needed to know: was my cold a sign?
Sarah Wohlman, a certified midwife and nurse practitioner with Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida, tells Romper that catching a cold or having flu-like symptoms right before getting a positive pregnancy test can be a sign of conception because it’s hormonal and your membranes inside your nose are swelling from these hormones and they’re causing increased mucus. “While not every woman will experience this, it affects enough women to have its own name: Pregnancy Rhinitis. Women have different early signs of pregnancy — some women feel very tired, some have decreased libidos, some are more emotional, others have cravings early on. A lot of those things are hormonal and will affect each woman in a different way,” Wohlman explains.
This theory is pretty well known, and Dr. Jamil Abdur-Rahman, OB-GYN, medical travel blogger, and one-half of the Twin Doctors from TwinDoctorsTV, tells Romper that it "certainly can be a symptom." The Mayo Clinic doesn’t mention having a cold as a common early pregnancy symptom — listing nausea, fatigue, a missed period, and tender breasts instead — but the website does note that nasal congestion can be a less obvious sign. "Increasing hormone levels and blood production can cause the mucous membranes in your nose to swell, dry out and bleed easily. This might cause you to have a stuffy or runny nose," the article noted.
To top off those runny nose feelings, I also feel like I’ve had this cold my entire pregnancy. Apparently I'm not alone. Glory Guerrero, also a nurse practitioner with Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida, says it’s still those pesky hormones. “Your hormones cause you to produce more mucus when you are pregnant. Everyone is different — some women produce more mucus than others. It depends on your immune system and hormone levels. The amount of mucus produced will vary from one woman to the next.” She also tells Romper that it can happen any time during your pregnancy, but it’s usually early on. “The hormones in your body are now producing extra saliva and affect the amount and thickness of mucus in your membranes, so you may experience more congestion.”
“All in all, the lesson here is cold or flu-like symptoms are not necessarily a confirmation of a positive pregnancy test or a negative one. If you experience these symptoms, either wait to see if you miss your period or if the discomfort is too high, go see your medical provider,” Wohlman says.
So while it may not necessarily mean you’re pregnant, it could mean you’re pregnant. How's that for a mind game? Just remember that all women’s symptoms differ when it comes to pregnancy. And now I don’t feel like such a looney for searching if cold symptoms were a sign of implantation.
This post was originally published on Jan. 19, 2018. It was updated on Sep. 5, 2019.