How Early Do Pregnancy Symptoms Start? Signs of Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed on 2/17/2022
How Early Do Pregnancy Symptoms Start
Some people notice pregnancy symptoms as early as 1 week after pregnancy begins, which occurs about 2-3 weeks after sex

Some people notice pregnancy symptoms as early as 1 week after pregnancy begins, which occurs about 2-3 weeks after sex when a fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the uterus. Other people, however, may not notice symptoms at all until months into the pregnancy.

Pregnancy can be confirmed with a home pregnancy test as early as 2 weeks after conception by detecting the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) produced by the placenta.

Symptoms of early pregnancy vary from person to person, but often include a missed period, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. According to some studies:

  • 50% of women reported symptoms at 5 weeks of pregnancy
  • 70% of women reported symptoms at 6 weeks
  • 90% of women reported symptoms at 8 weeks

What are the initial signs of pregnancy?

  • Missed period: The most obvious early sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Once the fertilized egg is implanted in the wall of the uterus, the body will begin producing the hCG hormone to maintain the pregnancy. This hormone stops the ovaries from releasing mature eggs each month, resulting in a missed period. However, this symptom can be misleading if you have an irregular menstrual cycle.
  • Fatigue: Feeling fatigued is often related to a high level of progesterone, as well as other factors such as lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, and elevated blood production.
  • Nausea with or without vomiting: Morning sickness can strike at any time of the day or night. However, some women never experience it. While the exact reason for nausea during pregnancy is unclear, pregnancy hormones likely play a role.
  • Tender, swollen breasts: Breast changes are another early symptom of pregnancy. Hormonal changes can make breasts feel sensitive and sore, although the discomfort often subsides after a few weeks as the body adjusts to these changes.
  • Increased urination: Pregnant women may find themselves urinating more often than usual because hormonal changes initiate a chain of events that increase the rate of blood flow through the kidneys. This causes the bladder to fill up more quickly and increases the urge to pee more often.
  • Mood swings: Expecting women often experience mood swings because of hormonal changes that affect the neurotransmitters of the brain. Some may experience alternating moods of happiness, depression, or anxiety.
  • Light spotting: Also called implantation bleeding, light spotting may occur about 10-14 days after conception, about the time a menstrual period would normally occur. 
  • Bloating: Hormonal changes during early pregnancy can cause bloating, which is similar to the start of a menstrual period.
  • Headaches: Pregnancy can cause approximately 50% increase in the volume of blood flow, which can lead to headaches.
  • Back pain: Lower back pain is common but usually experienced later as the pregnancy progresses, at around weeks 27-34.
  • Darkening of the areolas: During pregnancy, it is normal for the areolas around the nipples to darken.

SLIDESHOW

16 Early Signs & Symptoms of Pregnancy: Could You Be Pregnant? See Slideshow

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Medically Reviewed on 2/17/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Sayle AE, Wilcox AJ, Weinberg CR, Baird DD. A prospective study of the onset of symptoms of pregnancy. J Clin Epidemiol. 2002 Jul;55(7):676-80. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12160915/

Lutterodt MC, Kähler P, Kragstrup J, Nicolaisdottir DR, Siersma V, Ertmann RK. Examining to what extent pregnancy-related physical symptoms worry women in the first trimester of pregnancy: a cross-sectional study in general practice [published online ahead of print, 2019 Nov 12]. BJGP Open. 2019;3(4). doi:10.3399/bjgpopen19X101674