Is Increased Appetite an Early Sign of Pregnancy?

If you're extra hungry before your period, is PMS or pregnancy to blame?
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Early pregnancy is notorious for causing nausea and morning sickness. But could an uptick in your hunger be a sign of pregnancy even before you've missed a period?


The short answer is: Maybe.

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While a grumbling stomach alone isn't akin to a positive pregnancy test, "some women experience an immediate change in their appetite within days of conception," says Paul Quinn, PhD, CNM, a certified nurse midwife and author of ‌Pregnant Possibilities‌ and ‌Prenatal Possibilities‌.

Here's more on why you might have the sudden urge to eat, eat, eat, plus other signs that could mean you're pregnant and when to take a pregnancy test.


Hunger in Early Pregnancy

It's not uncommon to feel hungrier than usual or crave particular foods when you're pregnant, especially early on. The reasons, while not fully understood, are thought to have to do with the hormones estrogen, progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which tend to fluctuate in early pregnancy.

"Think of a woman's body as a factory during pregnancy. It's open 24 hours, going at top speed, continuously growing and nourishing a baby," Quinn says. "That factory requires fuel, and fuel comes in the form of food. It's natural, then, for a woman to have peaks of hunger or cravings as the levels of the key hormones of pregnancy continue to rise and ebb."


On the other hand? Not everyone feels extra hungry during their pregnancy, and that's also normal.

"The same fluctuations in the three key hormones that typically cause an increase in appetite can also have the opposite effect, especially in the first trimester," Quinn says.

It's typical, too, for foods you usually like to suddenly seem off-putting.


And if you're queasy or vomiting? That's also par for the course, unfortunately, especially in the first trimester. (And not just in the morning.)


Again, it largely comes down to hormones, but the sensation might get worse when you're stressed or tired, according to the March of Dimes.

When Does Pregnancy Hunger Start?

Many people experience an uptick in hunger during the first trimester. For some, appetite increases can hit almost immediately, before your missed period. Within days of conception, levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG start to rapidly spike. By the time a fertilized egg has implanted into the uterus, "hCG levels may be high enough to cause early pregnancy symptoms like increased appetite or hunger that precedes a positive pregnancy test," Quinn says.

Other Possible Reasons You're Suddenly Hungrier Than Usual

Pregnancy can make you ravenous, but it's not the only thing that can ramp up your appetite. According to the Cleveland Clinic, sudden increases in hunger can also be caused by:


  • Certain medications, such as corticosteroids
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • PMS
  • Depression
  • Stress or anxiety

Other Early Signs of Pregnancy

If you suspect your appetite is up because you're pregnant, you might be looking for more signs to confirm your hunch. Per Planned Parenthood, these can include:


  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Bloating
  • Peeing more than usual
  • Mood swings,
  • Nausea
  • Tender or swollen breasts

Not everyone who's pregnant will have all of these symptoms. But it's pretty common to experience at least one of them, Planned Parenthood says.

Still, you shouldn't rely on these signs alone. If you're having symptoms that suggest you might be pregnant, you should get confirmation with a pregnancy test.


When to Take a Pregnancy Test

You can take a pregnancy test as early as the first day of your missed period, per the Mayo Clinic. While it can be tough to wait if you're experiencing possible pregnancy symptoms, testing sooner ups your odds for inaccurate results like a false negative.

Home pregnancy tests work by measuring the amount of hCG in your urine, Quinn says. Your hCG concentrations are usually high enough for a test to pick up by the time you reach the day where your period was supposed to come. But they might not be high enough if you test earlier than that.


When to See a Doctor

A noticeable change in hunger levels is usually a sign that something's going on. If you think you might be pregnant, take a home pregnancy test to confirm the results. Let your ob-gyn know if the test is positive so you can start getting prenatal care.

If the test is negative and your hunger persists after your next period, reach out to your primary care doctor. Increased hunger can be a normal PMS symptom, the Cleveland Clinic notes. But when it persists past your period, it could potentially indicate an underlying medical condition.




Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.