Things You Should Know About Pregnancy, PMS and Breast Tenderness

A missed menstrual cycle is often perceived as the first sign of pregnancy. However, it may not always be the case. Many women find it difficult to figure out whether they are pregnant or are about to start their period or have PMS.

PMS or premenstrual syndrome is a group of symptoms which are generally linked to the menstrual cycle. You may experience PMS one or two weeks before your periods start and the symptoms seize once you get your periods. PMS symptoms can be extremely similar to the early pregnancy symptoms.

Do you often confuse breast tenderness before period vs. early pregnancy sign? If so, you are not alone. If you are unaware whether you are pregnant or are just experiencing PMS, we are here to help you.

Breast Tenderness Before Period vs. Early Pregnancy Sign

What is PMS?


Menstruation or periods, as they are more often called, is a process of bleeding from the vagina that occurs after every 28 days. The menstruation begins during puberty and lasts until the age of 50. During this time, the uterus sheds its lining because the pregnancy did not occur. All through this time many women may experience bloating, cramping, breast tenderness and mood change.

Pre Menstrual Syndrome is a condition which is defined by physical and psychological symptoms that develop after you ovulate and ends once you get your periods. These symptoms generally include fatigue, irritability, food craving, depression, breast tenderness, acne, and crying. While a majority of women, generally 90% of women, experience these symptoms, approximately 10% women experience severe PMS.

What Are First Signs of Pregnancy and PMS?

Women during the early stages of pregnancy experience a number of different symptoms that generally signs toward pregnancy. The early signs of pregnancy, seen in the first 2 weeks and the PMS are almost same. These include:


Mood swings are common signs of early pregnancy and PMS. These changes generally are characterized by anxiety, crying spells, depression, irritability and more.

Nausea or vomiting

A woman may experience morning sickness or nausea as the early sign of pregnancy.

Missed period

A missed period is considered as one of the most prominent sign of early pregnancy. However, periods can be delayed owing to a number of factors like emotional stress or medications.


You can feel fatigue when your periods are approaching or it can even be one of the early signs of pregnancy.

Swollen or tender breasts

Breast pain, enlargement, tenderness, or swelling can occur in early pregnancy or before you have your periods. During this time, the breast may feel heavy and become sensitive to touch in both the conditions.

Increased urination

You may feel increased urge to urinate if you are about to have your periods or are pregnant.


Digestive disturbances such as constipation may be experienced during both the scenario owing to the hormone progesterone. Hormonal changes during pregnancy or during the second half of the periods can lead to constipation.

Food craving

You may not have like anything sweet throughout your life, but suddenly now you may be craving for ice cream. Your appetite may increase and you may gorge on food which you may not have liked in the past. These signs don’t indicate pregnancy as they are not the early signs of pregnancy; rather they indicate that you are PMS-ing.

Abdominal cramping

Abdominal cramps can indicate both pregnancy and PMS. However, you will be able to differentiate between the two as cramping when pregnant last longer than abdominal cramping you will experience during PMS.

However, it may sound surprising that you are not considered pregnant in the first week of pregnancy. A 40-week calendar is used to measure pregnancy and day one begins on the last day of your menstrual cycle. A woman is considered pregnant at the end of week two or in the third-week beginning.

Breast Pain Before Period vs. Early Pregnancy


Swollen breasts before period are a sign of PMS. Breast soreness and swelling can occur during the second half of the periods. The tenderness can vary from mild to severe and the most severe pain generally happens right before the beginning of the menstrual cycle. However, women in the childbearing age can experience more severe symptoms of period-coming as compared to their counterparts.

Tip: Reduce breast pain with a cold pack like the Lansinoh TheraPearl. Breastfeeding mothers use it to reduce breast engorgement pain. It can be used to smooth breast pain too.

During PMS-ing, the breast tissue may feel dense and bumpy. Thus, you may have a feeling of breast fullness along with dull yet heavy pain. However, you may experience an improvement in the pain, once your periods start as the progesterone level will begin to decrease during that time.

On the other hand, when you are pregnant, your breast may feel sore, tender and sensitive to touch. Your breast may also feel heavier and full during the first two weeks and beyond after you have conceived. This generally occurs because the progesterone levels are high during pregnancy.

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Pregnancy and PMS Cramps

Now, are you wondering, “How to tell the difference between period cramps and pregnancy cramps?” If yes, the answer is simple.

When you have PMS, the cramps generally occur 24 to 48 hours before the periods start. This phenomenon is known as dysmenorrheal and the pain decreases when periods start and go away once the blood flow stops.

In a majority of case, the menstrual cramps get better as you age or after your first pregnancy. However, exceptions are always there and some women will experience cramping once they reach the menopause stage.

So, Where Do Pregnancy Cramps Occur?

On the other hand, a woman will experience light or mild cramping in the early days of being pregnant. These cramps generally mimic the cramps you feel during your periods. However, you will feel the pain only in your lower back or lower stomach.

If you have previously lost your pregnancy, make sure you consider these symptoms and take care of yourself. However, if the symptoms don’t subside, make sure to get in touch with your doctor. Here it must be remembered that you can experience the cramps for months while pregnant.

But if the cramps are followed by bleeding, get in touch with a doctor immediately. Never let a prolong cramps go unattended especially if you are expecting a pregnancy.

Breast Tenderness and Pregnancy

Are breast tenderness and early pregnancy associated? What does breast tenderness feel like in early pregnancy? These are some of the most commonly asked questions by first-time mothers. Yes, breast tenderness and pregnancy are closely associated and breast tenderness happens because of the increased levels of progesterone and estrogen.

The production of estrogen causes a response of the mammary tissue within the breast which causes the tenderness. Moreover, the increased blood flow makes the breast painful to touch. Over the nine months of pregnancy, you can portably gain up to two cup sizes as there will be extra bulk coming from blood, milk and extra fatty tissue.

Tip: Sometime partners might not understand why women experience breast tenderness during pregnancy. Some partners might have perceived that his wife is no longer interested in intimacy since the breast is a “no-go” during pregnancy. A good explanation will make the partner understand and so they do not get the wrong idea.

Sore breasts are generally believed to be the first sign of pregnancy as progesterone shoots up in the first three months, thus stimulating the breast glands which respond by enlarging in size. During the first trimester, you may experience rapid enlargement of the breast gland. This enlargement stretches the ligament which causes breast tenderness and pain.

Breast tenderness occurs during the first trimester and subsides as the pregnancy proceeds. However, it varies from individual to individual as some women experience severe breast tenderness while others not so much.

How to Relieve Sore Breasts During Pregnancy?

Sore breast is a major pain during early pregnancy; however, there are plenty of ways to deal with the situation. But, as breast tenderness is caused by hormonal imbalance, no medication is available to make it feel better. Some of the best ways to relieve sore breasts during pregnancy are:

Wear a Sports Bra

Minimizing the movement of the breast can help you ease pain and this is when a sports bra can help. A sports bra works by holding the breast very close to the chest and preventing any kind of jiggling movement throughout the day. Therefore, be sure to measure yourself well, before investing in a sports bra.

Sleep in a Bra

Sleeping in your bra while pregnant will help minimize movement and also help with tenderness. However, make sure not to choose a bra with underwire. Sports bra works excellent as they keep the breast close to the chest. So if you are feeling comfortable wearing a sports bra, make sure to sleep with it on.

Avoid Spray Shower

Some women may even experience pain when the water hit their breast, therefore make sure to avoid the spray of the shower as it can be a painful scenario. Opt for warm showers and bath using a bucket and mug.

Breast Pads Can Help Too

During the first few weeks of pregnancy, your nipples will become painful too. Therefore, if the lining of the bra is causing pain, invest in some breast pads. These pads will shield your nipples from the bra lining and decrease the pain you may be experiencing.

Wrapping Up

The good news is that you will experience breast tenderness during early pregnancy and as the pregnancy will proceed, the pain will go away on its own. Do not worry if you have sore breasts as it is a sign of early pregnancy.

So how are you dealing with breast tenderness before period vs. early pregnancy sign? Let us know more about your techniques in the comments below!

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