How do I Tell if I Have Pregnancy Cramps or Period Cramps?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 30 April 2019
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Many of the symptoms of early pregnancy are similar to what you might get just before your menstrual period begins. For example, the typical pregnant woman gets cramps in the first trimester that may feel similar to period cramps, making it difficult to decide whether to take a pregnancy test or wait for the period to come. One of the only ways to tell whether you have pregnancy cramps or period cramps is to consider their severity, as an embryo often only causes light cramps. Additionally, if the cramping is pregnancy-induced, you should notice other symptoms, as well. In general, if you are feeling a little different this cycle compared to past months, it may be time to take a test.

The first step to figuring out what type of cramps you have is to compare the intensity to what you are used to. For example, if you normally get severe period cramps that require pain relievers and a heating pad, but your current cramps are much lighter, you might be pregnant. In addition, if you normally do not feel cramping in your back just prior to menstruation, but you currently do, this could also be a sign of early pregnancy.


To add further confusion to the matter, some women experience light bleeding, called spotting, with their pregnancy cramps. This is usually due to implantation of the embryo, and typically occurs an average of ten days after ovulation. Not only does this frequently cause light cramping, but it also may result in light bleeding due to the embryo burrowing into the uterine lining. You may assume that the spotting is the start of your period, but if the light bleeding does not turn into a flow, and then stops after a few days, it could be implantation instead. On the other hand, if the bleeding becomes heavier than your normal period, you should consult a medical professional because you might be experiencing a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

If you are still not sure whether you are having pregnancy cramps or period cramps, you should consider any other symptoms you have. For instance, you may have tender breasts, fatigue and nausea, all of which are common in early pregnancy. Of course, if you normally experience these just before your period, it may still be difficult to tell the difference. In such a case, it may be necessary for you to take a pregnancy test once your period is late, as it should be accurate at that time. After you have determined the cause of your cramps, you can find out ways to treat them, if needed.


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Post 12

I have been having some light cramping for the last four days before expected period. I have been tired more than usual and my nipples are sore. My husband and I have been trying for a couple of months but no luck. How do you distinguish between a period or possibly being pregnant?

Post 11

I am a married 25 year old female. I have cramps in my stomach 10 days after completing my period. What can be the reason for that?

Post 10

Mittelschmerz means you are extremely fertile, per my research. Middle pain or Mittelschmerz is when there is a ripe egg full of nutrition that bursts through the follicle, which is a rod like tube. If you have middle pain, be thankful!

Post 9

My period is late. I was expecting it two days ago. I have taken a pregnancy test every day. The test showed negative today. I had intercourse six days before and we used protection. Should I be worried about pregnancy?

Post 8

I have a question to ask. I'm not sure if I'm pregnant or not but I took a pregnant test one week before my period and it had two lines, but the other one is very, very faint to the point where I had to hold it in the light to see it. Then I also took a clear blue one that turned out to be negative. So I'm pretty lost at the moment since I don't know if I'm pregnant or not.

Today I'm having light cramps, which I don't usually have a week prior to my period. I usually have them like two or three weeks prior. That way I know I'm having my period. I'm so lost. Help me.

Post 7

I have a question. I am not due for my period for another 12 days. I've been regular for three months now with my period. However today, I felt mild cramping like I was going to come on my period. But I never did. I don't understand. I'm wondering if this was implantation cramping. Should I be concerned about pregnancy?

Post 5

I have a question. I don't have any PMS symptoms until my period starts. When it starts, I just feel a bit of pain in my lower back and pain in my legs, and no cramps at all. Since I have been trying to conceive, this is the first cycle where I'm having cramps, actually. I'm supposed to have artificial fertilization in three days, but the cramps I felt yesterday (four days before the date) were tremendously painful, but today I feel OK, with occasional cramps. I also felt my lower abdomen cramping while I was advised to make out. I just don't understand this. Can someone help?

Post 1

Can Mittelschmerz make women infertile? If yes, can it be treated and how long does the treatment take?

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