Pregnant or Starting Menopause- Compare the Symptoms

Pregnancy and menopause share a lot of similar symptoms. It may be more difficult to distinguise between pregnancy and menopause for a women aged 40 and older.

Updated: November 7, 2017

Pregnancy and menopause share a lot of similar symptoms. It may be more difficult to distinguish between pregnancy and menopause for a women aged 40 and older.

Symptoms Common in Both Pregnancy and Menopause:

There are many symptoms that may accompany pregnancy and menopause. Even in the same woman, symptoms in one pregnancy may differ from another pregnancy. Likewise, menopause symptoms differ from person to person, and they also can change over time.
The following are some general symptoms that you may have in perimenopause and pregnancy.

Changes in menstrual cycle:

Women who are pregnant or in perimenopause stage will experience irregularities in their menstrual cycle because of hormonal changes. A missed period is a common sign of pregnancy, while irregular periods may mean the onset of menopause.
Signs of irregular menstruation include changes in blood flow, light spotting, infrequent periods and longer or shorter periods,. Irregular periods could indicate other health condition also.

Mood Swings:

Hormonal changes cause mood swings in pregnancy and during perimenopause. In pregnancy, mood changes may cause you to be unusually emotional and weepy where as in perimenopause, these changes may show as moodiness, irritability, or an increased risk of depression.

Fatigue and sleep problems:

Fatigue and sleep disturbances can occur both in pregnancy and during perimenopause. In pregnancy, fatigue is caused by soaring levels of progesterone which may cause you to become sleepy. In perimenopause, you are more likely to have trouble sleeping and staying asleep, which can cause you to become more tired than normal.

Weight gain:

Weight gain happens gradually during pregnancy in your belly as your baby grows. Your metabolism slows down during menopause which makes it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Hormonal changes may also cause you to gain weight around your abdomen.

Headaches:

In both perimenopause and pregnancy, headaches are caused by changes in hormones. loss of estrogen can cause headaches in menopause where as an increase in hormonal level may be the cause of increased headaches in pregnancy.
Some of the other causes of headache could be lack of sleep, stress, and dehydration.

Hot flashes and night sweats:

Hot flashes and night sweats are commonly associated with menopause, but they may also be early signs of pregnancy. These are a sudden, transient sensation of warmth or heat that spreads over the body, creating a flushing, or redness, that is particularly noticeable on the face and upper portion of your body.
The intensity of a hot flash can range from mild to very strong, even waking you from sleep.

Bloating and cramping :

Changes to hormones in pregnancy can also cause bloating. Your uterus may cramp early in pregnancy.
Bloating and cramping may be a signal that you are about to start your period in perimenopause.

Changes to sex drive:

During pregnancy, your libido can increase or decrease due to hormonal changes where as in menopause you are more likely to have a low sex drive.

Problems with urinating:

Urinating more often is common during pregnancy which is because of the increased blood causes your kidneys to process more fluids, which end up in your bladder.
However, during menopause loss of tissue tone may cause you to lose control of your bladder. Incontinence can also happen during pregnancy.

Symptoms Unique to Pregnancy:

These can include:

Nausea with or without vomiting:

Although morning sickness is a common symptom women experience in the first trimester of pregnancy,  the feeling of nausea can occur throughout the day.

Constipation:

Changes in your body during pregnancy will slow down your metabolic activity which can lead to constipation.

Food sensitivity:

During pregnancy your taste buds may change. You may start to eat foods you haven’t had for years or stop eating your favorite foods. You may also become sick after eating certain foods or smelling certain odors.

Sensitive and swollen breasts:

Your breasts may feel tender and sore at the beginning of pregnancy. The feeling of discomfort will ease when your body adjusts to the hormonal changes during this period.

Symptoms Unique to Menopause:

Decrease in fertility:

During perimenopause, ovulation becomes irregular which decreases your chances of becoming pregnant. However if you are still having periods, you can still become pregnant.

Vaginal dryness:

Your vagina may lose lubrication and elasticity as your estrogen levels are decreasing. This can make painful intercourse and can also cause bleeding after sex.

Loss of bone density:

Lower estrogen levels in perimenopause and menopause can cause a loss of bone density which increases your risk for osteoporosis.
Bone mass is not affected by pregnancy.

Cholesterol changes and increased risk of heart disease:

A loss of estrogen can cause an increase in LDL cholesterol and a decrease in HDL. This increases your risk of heart disease.


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