Symptoms and Signs of PMS vs. Pregnancy Symptoms and Signs

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Medically Reviewed on 5/24/2022

Doctor's Notes on PMS vs. Pregnancy Symptoms and Signs

PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is a set of symptoms that occur prior to the menstrual period. The symptoms may begin anytime in the 2 weeks before menstrual bleeding. Pregnancy is the time during which one or more offspring develops inside a woman; from fertilization to birth of offspring, pregnancy lasts about 38 weeks. Similar signs and symptoms of PMS and pregnancy may include

PMS symptoms can wax and wane each month in a non-pregnant woman, but pregnant women may have symptoms all during the pregnancy or some symptoms may last for a month or more and then relent. PMS signs and symptoms of acne and joint pain don't occur in early pregnancy. In pregnancy, a whitish vaginal discharge and darkening of the nipples and/or areolas can occur but does not occur in PMS.

The cause of a normal pregnancy is when one or more fertilized eggs reaches the uterus, attaches, and continues to develop; the normal hormonal changes triggered by the pregnancy play a role in pregnancy symptoms. The cause of PMS is due to monthly changes in estrogen, progesterone, and serotonin levels in some women especially during the 2 weeks prior to menstrual bleeding.

What Are the Treatments for PMS vs. Pregnancy?

The most important step before any treatment begins is the result of an accurate pregnancy test. Then the treatment comparisons become clear. In contrast to PMS, pregnant women should follow their ob-gyn's suggestions until the pregnancy ends (hopefully with delivery of a normal healthy infant). The treatments for PMS are different than that for pregnancy.

Some women may need only lifestyle changes: a regular sleep pattern, exercises, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, healthy diet, and others may relieve many PMS symptoms without medicines. However, the following medicines may be helpful in some women:

Your doctor can help you with questions about PMS and pregnancy.

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REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.