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 and devoured message boards for some hope. 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 catching 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 decided to ask medical professionals to see once and for all if it was truly a symptom, or just a coincidence. And if it was a symptom, what the hell does a runny nose have to do with your uterus?
According to Sarah Wohlman, a certified midwife and nurse practitioner with Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida, 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.
The American Pregnancy Association (APA) doesn’t mention having a cold as an early symptom, but listed nausea, fatigue, spotting, mild cramping, and some breast changes as symptoms. Unfortunately, according to the APA, “One of the most frustrating things for those questioning a potential pregnancy comes from the reality that many of the symptoms of pregnancy can be associated with a pending menstruation, tension. or stress.” Because of course PMS symptoms have to be the same as early pregnancy symptoms, right? No rollercoaster there.
To top off those runny nose feelings, I feel like I’ve had this cold my entire pregnancy. Why is that? 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 adds 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. 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.