Early pregnancy symptoms are caused by the pregnancy hormone hCG or "Human Chorionic Gonadotropin." Even though hCG is not usually detectable in large quantities in blood or urine until after a missed menstrual period, early pregnancy symptoms can sometimes happen before a missed period and before a positive pregnancy test.
Early pregnancy signs and symptoms differ from one woman to the next and from one pregnancy to the next. Some women experience early pregnancy signs within a week after ovulation, fertilization and conception. In other women, early pregnancy symptoms may develop much later, well after a missed period and / or positive pregnancy test. Other women may not have early pregnancy signs at all.
The most significant early pregnancy sign is a late or missed menstrual period, but the only definitive diagnosis is a positive pregnancy test.
Small amounts of hCG enter the blood stream several days after implantation, about 8-10 days after ovulation and before a missed period. Therefore, pregnancy symptoms do not typically appear until the hCG has reached sufficient levels, about 1-2 weeks after you miss your period (3-4 weeks after ovulation, or 2-3 weeks after implantation). Though pregnancy symptoms may suggest that a woman is pregnant, a positive pregnancy test is needed to confirm a pregnancy.
Read more about the day-to-day appearance of pregnancy symptoms on the Pregnancy Symptoms Timeline Page.
|Pregnancy Symptoms||Timing of Pregnancy Symptom
|Temperature drop (dip)||Implantation day|
|Implantation bleeding or spotting:(a slight staining of a pink or brown color)||8-10 days after ovulation|
|Lower abdominal cramps / Implantation cramps / hot flashes||8-10 days after ovulation|
|A positive blood hCG pregnancy test||10 days after fertilization/ovulation|
|A positive urine home pregnancy test (HPT)
||10-14 days after ovulation/fertilization|
|An elevated BBT||15+ days without a menstrual period|
|No period. A missed menstrual period
|Your period is supposed to come 14-16 days after ovulation|
|Nausea||2-4 weeks after ovulation|
|Nipple or breast tenderness||3-4 weeks after conception|
|Fatigue and tiredness||3-10 weeks after conception|
|Vomiting||3-10 weeks after conception|
|Food cravings||1-2 months after conception|
|Frequent urination||Usually after 1-2 months|
|Softening of cervix||6+ weeks after LMP|
|Breast changes||After 14 weeks|
|Fetal heartbeat on sonogram||8-9 weeks after conception|
|Fetal movements||18-20+ weeks|
As soon as you think you might be pregnant, you should visit your OBGYN or a pregnancy clinic or help center for a pregnancy test. If you are pregnant it is important to:
- Learn what to expect from pregnancy and how to care for yourself and your growing baby.
- Take a prenatal vitamin containing the recommended vitamins and minerals (including folic acid).
- Ensure your nutritional needs are being met by learning about pregnancy nutrition and what foods you should and should not eat during pregnancy.
- If you smoke or drink alcohol, you should stop immediately — tobacco and alcohol can harm your unborn child.
- Take inventory of your prescribed and over-the-counter medications and make sure they are safe to take during pregnancy. Certain medications can harm the fetus.
Have a negative pregnancy test but think you could be pregnant? Read about the chances that you are pregnant with a negative pregnancy test.