Menstruation is nothing new to girls; it is something that women face every month. And menstruation never comes alone; it brings the episode of terrible cramps along with it. And it doesn’t just end there; some women get cramps even before they start menstruating; that is what we call PMS or premenstrual syndrome. It is not the same for everyone, as the factors affecting them are different.
There is something else that feels similar to period cramps, and that is pregnancy cramps. Basically, this is abdominal cramps and can feel similar whether it is because of your period or early pregnancy. But there are some obvious ways to tell them apart. The basic thing is to monitor your ovulatory phase, and that can tell the difference.
The mild abdominal pain that we call cramps is often confused with the cramping that happens right after implantation in some women. The pain that women get in the pelvic area is also a reminder that your period is near. So, in this article, we will discuss period cramps vs early pregnancy cramps and try to make things clear.
What Exactly Are Early Pregnancy Cramps?
At the beginning of the pregnancy, mostly in the first trimester, that is, from the 1st week till the 13th week, it is not unnatural to experience cramping. And there are several reasons behind it. Some cramps are related to the growth of the baby, and some can be a sign of a pregnancy-related condition that might need to be addressed immediately.
Some reasons behind early pregnancy cramps are:
- Implantation bleeding – early pregnancy cramps are popularly known as implantation cramps. For pregnancy, it is necessary for an egg to get fertilized and attach itself to the uterine wall. This is when women experience abdominal cramps along with light spotting or bleeding. It generally happens for 1 to 2 days. But not all women experience this; only 20% of pregnant women face this.
- Ectopic pregnancy – this is a condition where the fertilized egg gets implanted outside the uterus. This is a condition that can be very dangerous for the expecting mother. These symptoms start to show around the sixth to eighth week, along with severe vaginal bleeding, cramps, shoulder pain, and dizziness.
- Miscarriage – it is before the third month of pregnancy when most of the miscarriages happen. If we check the pregnancy stats, almost 20% of it ends in miscarriage, and that is when there are symptoms like cramps, vaginal bleeding, and pain in the lower back and abdomen.
What Do Early Pregnancy Cramps Feel Like?
As soon as the fertilized egg gets implanted in the uterus, the wome body starts going through many changes and gets different sensations as the body tries to adjust itself to pregnancy.
Just like period cramps or PMS, pregnancy cramps can also renege from mild cramping to blinding pain, and all of this depends on the reading behind the cramps. Early pregnancy cramps are seen in almost every woman because of the implantation in the uterus. It generally doesn’t last for long and is not very fierce. There are other symptoms as well that happen along with the cramps, which are:
- Light bleeding or spotting along with light brown or pink blood.
- Minor abdominal pain.
- Watery and thin discharge.
- A tingling or prickling sensation.
Implantation can cause this kind of light cramping and show some other symptoms like constipation and bloating. But do not take this as something absolute because these sensations and feelings are different for every woman.
Most women report the issue or feeling to be similar to mild cramps, twinges, and a dull achiness. And how long does implantation cramping last? It can also feel like a pulling sensation that can last for a day or more and can come and go before it completely disappears.
Symptoms For Early Period Cramps
This is the time when the female body goes through ample changes, and that starts from the beginning of the phase. Most women face these and can’t escape. These symptoms can be a bit difficult to handle, but they can be the indication that will let you know that you are expecting.
Apart from the implantation cramps, most women at least expect a minimum of the two pregnancy-related symptoms in their first trimester. Let’s list the symptoms below.
- Vaginal bleeding
- Mood swings
- Vulvar itching
- Change in nipples
- Breast tenderness
- Food cravings and aversions
This can help in sorting the war between period cramps vs early pregnancy cramps. Before getting into detail about how to separate period cramps and pregnancy cramps or PMS vs pregnancy symptoms, it is important to know what a period cramp feels like.
What Do Period Cramps Feel Like?
The term cramping cannot justify what a woman feels during menstruation. It is like someone is pulling, twisting, and punching the uterus or doing all of these at once. Some feel a little gassy and nothing else, while others may feel immense and unbearable pain. And it also happens that you don’t feel the same pain on every cycle, while some get the same pain every time. Along with these cramps, the bleeding does not make things easier.
Some women get more severe pain than others, and that can happen because of various reasons like hormonal imbalance, intrauterine devices, genetics, and some other medical conditions.
Symptoms Of Period Cramps
Most women experience additional symptoms during their premenstrual week and during their period. Almost 95% of women get PMS symptoms. Besides cramps, there are many other symptoms as well, which resemble symptoms of pregnancy during periods. Those are:
- Non-abdominal pain(pelvis and lower back)
- Abdominal bloating
- Breast tenderness
- Mood swings
Ways To Distinguish Period Cramps VS Early Pregnancy Cramps
Before going to a doctor, you can try and figure it out on your own with the help of the following points. The main difference between the two cramps is listed below.
Location – In general, early pregnancy cramps are around the lower abdomen. Period cramps start fro the lower abdomen and travel to the pelvic area, thighs, and lower back. If the pain is severe, it is more likely to radiate to the other parts of the body.
Timing – Period cramps come around the same window every month, from PMS till menstruation. You can get cramps 10 days before period, as well as 3 to 4 days after the period as well. Implantation cramps can happen till ten days after ovulation. But cramps that are caused because of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy are different.
Duration – some women get period cramps from one to two days, which is a lot like getting implantation cramps. But the bleeding duration will help us get the answer we are looking for. If it is because of implantation, it will be there for 1 to 2 days; if it is periods, it will be around 7 days, and if it stays more than that, it can be a sign of ectopic pregnancy or any other health condition.
Other symptoms – Look for the symptoms that are not related to menstruation. Period cramps often come with symptoms like fatigue, bloating, and headaches, which are a lot similar to pregnancy cramps. But if you are getting symptoms like very tender breasts, vomiting, and nausea, then it is like you are pregnant.
Cramps are not something great, irrespective of the fact why it is happening, even if we keep debating about period cramps vs early pregnancy cramps. But it can lead to something nice and happy if it is early period cramps. Just look for the symptoms carefully, and that will help you figure out the reason. Of course, it is best to see a doctor to get the good news, but there is no harm in guessing before going to a doctor.
- How Soon After Unprotected Can I Test For Pregnancy?
- Understanding Implantation Bleeding: Causes And Symptoms
- DIY Pregnancy Tests: How To Check Pregnancy At Home Naturally
- Understanding Fertility: Can You Get Pregnant Right Before Your Period?
- A Guide to Natural Pregnancy Prevention: How to Avoid Pregnancy without Contraceptives