You feel nauseated, tired, and a little woozy, and your period is a week late, but is it really pregnancy? In the early stages, it’s hard to tell. If you’ve been hoping for a baby for awhile and you’re undergoing fertility treatments, you might alternate between noticing small symptoms and getting excited about possible pregnancy, and ignoring the early signs completely because you’ve had so many disappointments.
Even more confusing is the task of distinguishing early pregnancy symptoms from side effects of fertility treatment and fertility medicines. Before you jump for the phone and schedule a pregnancy test with your doctor, check out this list of early pregnancy symptoms and fertility drug side effects that are often mistaken for early signs of pregnancy.
Pregnant or Not?
Here’s the lowdown on common symptoms and whether they really indicate pregnancy.
- Hot flashes: This is not a typical pregnancy symptom in early pregnancy but it’s a common side effect of fertility medications like clomiphene (also known as Clomid or Serophene). If you’re experiencing hot flashes, sweating, chills, or shortness of breath, it is most likely due to fertility medications and not from pregnancy.
- Bloating: While bloating may occur later on during pregnancy, it’s not common in the early stages of pregnancy. Bloating is a possible side effect of clomiphene (Serophene), so if you’re experiencing this symptom it isn’t likely connected to pregnancy. It could also be signaling a delayed period.
- Fatigue: This could be a symptom of early pregnancy, but it’s also a common side effect of many fertility medications. In addition, fertility treatment can be emotionally exhausting so if you’re feeling tired or run down, it doesn’t warrant a pregnancy test.
- Headache: Many fertility medications may cause minor headaches, so if headaches are your only symptom then you probably aren’t pregnant because headaches alone usually aren’t an early sign of pregnancy. However, since there’s a chance you could be pregnant, be careful about taking medication to treat your headache. Tylenol is usually the only medicine that’s recommended for pregnant women.
- Frequent bathroom breaks: Having more frequent trips to the restroom is a classic early symptom of pregnancy, but it could also be caused by drinking more water then usual, increased caffeine intake, taking prenatal vitamins, or it could be a side effect of fertility medicines.
- Missed period: This is the classic wake-up call for women across the world, but if you’re taking fertility medicine it could have other causes. Due to their impact on hormone levels, fertility medicines can alter and change the pattern or frequency of your cycle.
- Swollen breasts: As hormone levels change in the early stages of pregnancy, many women notice that their breasts feel tender, achy, or uncomfortable. In fact, breast changes are often one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. However, since coming menstruation also can cause breast tenderness, it can’t be taken as a sign of pregnancy unless accompanied by several other symptoms.
- Appetite changes: The classic pregnancy symptom of food cravings usually doesn’t set in until at least the fifth or sixth week of pregnancy. If you’re experiencing changes in appetite (either suddenly disliking certain foods or really craving others), it could be due to many factors, including stress, hormonal fluctuations, or even fertility treatments. If it keeps going on and it’s also accompanied by a missed period, you might want to get a pregnancy test.
Remember, the only way to really tell if you’re pregnant is to take a pregnancy test, and then wait, since even pregnancy tests can sometimes be incorrect. If you’re feeling discouraged about your chances of having a baby, contact Santa Monica Fertility for a consultation with world-renowned fertility expert Dr. John Jain.