When you are TTC, you are most likely paying attention to every little change or hint of change in your body. That two-ish week period of waiting and hoping and anticipating can feel like an eternity, and you might be searching for early hints of pregnancy before you take a test. As with many aspects of the conception and pregnancy journeys, so much of it is individualized. No two women will have the same experience, and it makes for a beautiful, yet slightly confusing personal journey toward motherhood. 

We talked with Dr. Jessica Ryniec, a double board-certified OB/GYN and infertility specialist at CCRM Fertility in Boston, about early signs that may indicate you're pregnant

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So, what are some early signs of pregnancy?

According to Dr. Ryniec, early indicators of pregnancy may include: 

  • Spotting

  • Cervical mucus changes

  • Fatigue

  • Breast tenderness

  • Nausea or food aversions 

  • Mood swings

  • Bloating

  • Frequent urination

  • Increased sense of smell

Or…“No symptoms at all!,” says Dr. Ryniec. Many women might not notice or experience any of these changes in the weeks between ovulation and a missed period. This can also be a little tricky, as many of these “early hints” can also be attributed to other, normal bodily changes during your cycle. 

“While these could be signs of pregnancy, they can also be related to hormonal changes between ovulation and your period. Progesterone can cause many of these symptoms as well,” further explains Dr. Ryniec.

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Is it pregnancy, or are you in your luteal phase?

As Dr. Ryniec clarified, many early pregnancy symptoms can just be common for women as they enter the luteal phase of their cycle. The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle begins right after ovulation, or when your ovary releases an egg into the fallopian tube, and ends when you get your period. Typically, the luteal phase lasts about 14 days. The main purpose of this phase is to prepare your uterus for pregnancy.

Progesterone levels, which are responsible for causing many of the symptoms during this phase, increase in the luteal phase. The increase in hormones causes your cervical mucus to thicken and your discharge to change. It can also result in nausea, mood changes, tender breasts, bloating, breakouts, and changes in appetite.

“Certainly if you’re having many of these signs/symptoms and don't typically have these during the luteal phase, it can be encouraging and exciting. So, being attuned to your body and noticing all possible changes can be helpful if you’re trying to spot symptoms. The only true sign of pregnancy, however, is a missed period and a positive pregnancy test! But remember, many people don't have a single symptom before that time so don't get disheartened if you feel normal!,” says Dr. Ryniec.

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You know your body best

If you are trying to conceive and are hoping for some early signs of pregnancy before your missed period or before you’re able to take an accurate pregnancy test, listen to your body! Knowing how you experience the four phases of the menstrual cycle, particularly the luteal phase, can help indicate if you are having different symptoms than you typically do. And, if you don’t have any symptoms? Don’t lose hope! Many women don’t experience early signs of pregnancy before their missed period. 

Brighid Flynn is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia where she lives with her husband and puppy. She is just beginning her journey toward motherhood.