Are You Actually Pregnant? 5 Symptoms That Mimic Pregnancy

By: Jordan Stachel, RDN

Medically Reviewed By: Cara Everett, MS, RDN, LDN

Publication Date: January 5th, 2024

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

The journey of pregnancy is unique, personal, and sometimes emotional. When you’re waiting to find out if you’re pregnant, you may experience symptoms that make you think you’re pregnant even if you aren’t, leading to confusion. Read this article for everything you need to know about symptoms that may mimic pregnancy and what they could mean instead. 

Do You Have Pregnancy Symptoms but a Negative Test?

If you have pregnancy symptoms but your pregnancy test is negative, you may still be pregnant. Let’s look at some of the most common reasons this could be the case.

It May Be Too Early

Over-the-counter pregnancy tests measure urine levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone the body produces during pregnancy. (1) It is possible to get a false negative test if it’s taken too early and HCG levels are too low. Alternatively, your HCG levels could be diluted in urine due to overhydration or other reasons. 

It Could Be PMS

Early signs of pregnancy can also mimic premenstrual syndrome (PMS). (2) Symptoms like breast pain, nausea, changes in mood, and lethargy are common both before menstruation and during early pregnancy. 

Progesterone rises in the first weeks of pregnancy and just before a woman's period. This increase is responsible for some of the fatigue a woman can experience at either time. While fatigue typically goes away once a woman’s period begins, fatigue due to pregnancy often continues through the first trimester.

Symptoms That Can Make You Think You’re Pregnant

There are several symptoms that may make you believe you’re pregnant. Some of the most common symptoms of pregnancy include: (3)

1. A Missed Period

This is the most common and obvious sign of pregnancy. In an American Pregnancy Association poll, 29% of women reported that missing their period was the first symptom they noticed upon getting pregnant. (2) 

2. Increased Need to Urinate

During pregnancy, you may need to use the restroom more often due to the increase in blood volume that takes place.

3. Fatigue

As mentioned above, extreme tiredness is a common symptom of early pregnancy because of elevated progesterone levels. Typically, women notice higher energy levels once they are past the second trimester.

4. Nausea

Morning (or any time of the day) sickness is a common symptom that pregnant women may experience. The severity and duration of nausea differ from woman to woman.

5. Sore Breasts

While many women experience sore breasts before their periods, this often occurs more intensely at the start of pregnancy.

What to Do About a Negative Pregnancy Test

If you are taking pregnancy tests at home, it is often advised to wait until you have missed a period to get the most accurate results (4). If taken too early, as mentioned above, the body does not have enough HCG to be picked up by the test, thus resulting in a negative pregnancy test that may or may not be accurate. To take most pregnancy tests at home, wait until you have missed your period and then follow the directions on the test.

If you've taken a pregnancy test and gotten a negative result but are having pregnancy symptoms, you may want to try a second test. 

If you get a second negative test result but still believe you may be pregnant, contact your healthcare provider. They may recommend a blood test to more reliably confirm your pregnancy or rule out other health issues that may be causing your symptoms.

The Bottom Line

By knowing when to take a pregnancy test and familiarizing yourself with common symptoms that can mimic pregnancy, you’ll be ready when it’s time to find out if you’re expecting. 

Because every woman has a unique genetic makeup, it can be helpful to undergo genetic screening so you know how to best support your body during pregnancy. With this knowledge, you can combat fatigue and ensure you and your baby are getting what you both need. 

One such screening tool is called the Genate Test. The test results and nutrigenetic counseling, provided by registered dietitians, give you guidance on how to optimize your diet and supplement regimen to support a healthy pregnancy. 

Start your pregnancy right with the Genate Essential Prenatal, a vegan prenatal vitamin designed by our team of health experts with 20 essential vitamins and minerals that are well-tolerated and absorbed for optimal use in the body.

This article is not intended as medical advice to treat or diagnose any health condition, but rather as educational health information for the general public. It should not be used as a substitute for individualized medical care from your healthcare provider. 

About the Author

Jordan Stachel MS, RDN


Jordan is an RDN who holds a Master’s degree in Dietetics from The University of Southern California. She has many years of experience helping clients reach their health goals through her clinical work within private practice. It can be difficult for individuals to discern nutrition information that is both credible and relevant from misinformation and conflicting guidance. As an expert in the field, Jordan finds great fulfillment in filling this gap by providing detailed clarification and explanation by leading the discussion surrounding nutrition and wellness. Jordan looks forward to continuing to help others achieve the most optimal version of themselves and improve their longevity as well as being a dependable source and voice within the field of nutrition and dietetics.

Sources

  1. What are HCG levels? American Pregnancy Association. https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/hcg-levels/ Accessed October 19, 2023.

  2. Is it PMS or am I pregnant? Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health. https://www.lancastergeneralhealth.org/health-hub-home/motherhood/getting-pregnant/is-it-pms-or-am-i-pregnant Published 2023. Accessed September 22, 2023. 

  3. Am I Pregnant? Early Symptoms of Pregnancy & When To Test. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9709-pregnancy-am-i-pregnant

  4. Home pregnancy tests: Can you trust the results? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/home-pregnancy-tests/art-20047940 Published December 23, 2022. Accessed September 22, 2023.

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