Whether you've been trying to conceive for awhile or you are unexpectedly wondering if you're pregnant, deciphering the signs your body is giving you can be tricky. Many women report flu-like symptoms such as headache, muscle aches and nausea and vomiting as early pregnancy signs, though some typical flu symptoms such as cough and fever are not related to pregnancy and may indicate illness instead.
Signs of Pregnancy
The American Pregnancy Association reports that signs of pregnancy will differ from woman to woman and even from pregnancy to pregnancy for the same woman. The most common sign of pregnancy is a missed menstrual period. Women may also experience swollen, tender, enlarged and/or tingling breasts, darkening of the areola, hunger, fatigue that can be profound, nasal congestion, nausea, vomiting, backache, headache and frequent urination. A general feeling of malaise or not feeling well can also be reported.
Signs of the Flu
According to the MayoClinic.com, signs and symptoms of the flu include fever, aches, chills, fatigue, nasal congestion, cough, loss of appetite and headache. Flu symptoms, like pregnancy signs, can be different from person to person and can vary in severity. Pregnancy is not known to bring on fever, chills, cough or loss of appetite.
Many women anecdotally report flu-type symptoms as signs of early pregnancy--headache, backache, nasal congestion and fatigue are common to both conditions. If severe sore throat, fever and cough with or without mucous are producing white, green or yellow mucous, these symptoms are more likely due to a cold or flu than pregnancy. If a woman is pregnant, these flu-type symptoms are likely caused by a cold or flu that has coincided with conception and not the pregnancy itself.
Time Line for Pregnancy Signs
Often the first and most obvious sign of pregnancy is a missed menstrual period. Symptoms can be detected as early as the first missed period--though some women report breast changes and fatigue before missing their period. Women who experience signs of the flu and/or pregnancy and suspect pregnancy should take a home pregnancy test as a reliable first step.
Home Pregnancy Test
At-home pregnancy tests look for human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, in a woman's blood. This hormone is produced by the placenta and begins to be emitted into the mother's bloodstream on the day of implantation. Levels of hCG are different for every woman, especially in early pregnancy, but many over-the-counter home pregnancy tests can detect the hormone on the first day of a missed period.
Fever, Pregnancy and the Flu
During the menstrual cycle the basal body temperature--the temperature of the body at rest--will increase. While these increases are subtle, they can be tracked to help predict when ovulation is occurring and hopefully help with conception. It is important to note that neither ovulation or conception will typically raise body temperature to fever levels. If there is a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, it is more likely the fever is being caused by an infection or illness than pregnancy.