Ovulation and pregnancy symptoms are believed to be caused by increased levels of the hormone progesterone and the fact that symptoms of early pregnancy are often similar to those experienced during ovulation. The difference is that ovulation symptoms usually subside shortly after ovulation occurs while symptoms of pregnancy will only increase in frequency and severity as the fetus develops.
Below, we discuss and differentiate between the signs of ovulation and pregnancy to help women and expecting mothers prepare.
Swollen or Tender Breasts
Many women have breast tenderness just before they ovulate, but the tenderness usually ends after a day or two. If breast tenderness continues after ovulation, it may be an early symptom of pregnancy, which can begin as early as one or two weeks after conceptions.
Although tenderness is the only symptom experienced by most women during ovulation, pregnant women may see darkening of the color of the areola around the nipple, and more rarely, may have goose bump-like skin patches, called Montgomery’s tubercles, around the areola and nipples.
Nonetheless, other explanations for swollen or sore breasts can include hormonal changes or imbalances, your birth control or the arrival of your period.
Lower Abdominal Pain
Another of the shared ovulation and early pregnancy symptoms is a dull ache or bloated feeling in the lower abdomen, sometimes even in the form of a backache. During ovulation, this pain or cramping tends to more noticeable on one side of the abdomen, but as an early pregnancy symptom, it is typically general discomfort.
It may be accompanied by frequent urination which is not one of the ovulation signs, but is a possible indicator of pregnancy. As with other signs of ovulation, abdominal discomfort is short lived and lasts only about two days during the release of an ovum.
Nausea and Vomiting
Unlike breast tenderness and lower abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting (known as morning sickness) are not ovulation symptoms and are most likely an indication of pregnancy. Many women experience morning sickness between 2 to 8 weeks after conception, as their hormone levels change. In a fairly rare condition, called hyperemesis gravidarum, vomiting will persist throughout the pregnancy and may cause dehydration if not treated.
Women who have nausea and vomiting after ovulation should take a pregnancy test to confirm or rule out pregnancy as a cause of their symptoms. On the other hand, some women are fortunate enough not to experience any nausea or morning sickness at all and other causes may be food poisoning, stress, and/or stomach disorders.
Changes In The Senses
Some women report a heightened sense of taste or smell as a sign of ovulation, but changes in the senses of taste and smell are also fairly common indicators of early pregnancy. The difference between a pregnancy and ovulation symptom is the duration and severity of the change.
During ovulation, the symptom may last a day or two, but pregnant women often find they like or dislike the taste of foods they previously hated or loved. This can last through all 9 months of your pregnancy. The smell of certain foods and substances may bring on a bout of nausea or vomiting throughout the course of the pregnancy.
Night Sweats and Hot Flashes
While not a common problem, night sweats and hot flashes can be ovulation symptoms or pregnancy signs. These symptoms are believed to be caused by increases in the hormone progesterone, and both ovulation and pregnancy cause the blood levels of this hormone to rise.
Women who have never experienced these symptoms during ovulation may want to take a pregnancy test. Women over 40 who experience night sweats and hot flashes may be beginning menopause which causes fluctuations in hormone levels. Stress, depression, and breast cancer can also cause hot flashes or night sweats.
Ovulation symptoms and pregnancy indicators are often similar with the primary difference being the duration of the symptoms. If ovulation symptoms persist for more than a day or two, they may actually be early symptoms of pregnancy.