Is Constipation a Sign of Early Pregnancy? How to Tell

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Written by Shandra Williams

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Determining what is and isn’t a pregnancy sign can be pretty challenging. Take constipation, for example; could it be a sign of early pregnancy, and what should you look for?

Constipation can be a sign of early pregnancy, though it’s not one of the most reliable. For most women, pregnancy-related constipation doesn’t start until the second or third month into the pregnancy. However, other women can experience it sooner. 

Like many early indicators, constipation is a sign of early pregnancy but not a reliable one. That’s what makes determining what is and isn’t an early pregnancy symptom so hard.

Is Constipation a Sign of Early Pregnancy?

Constipation alone isn’t a reliable enough sign of early pregnancy to start anticipating a baby. Typically, you should watch for other common pregnancy symptoms that might accompany constipation. Constipation accompanied by tender breasts, unexplained fatigue, or a missed period is a much stronger pregnancy sign.

woman suffering from constipation

If you haven’t yet had your menstrual period and then become constipated, your mind probably won’t go straight to “I’m pregnant!” Of course, if you’re desperately hoping – or fearing and fretting – that you might be, that’s another story. In those cases, that might be precisely where your mind goes.

But as I mentioned already, constipation alone shouldn’t automatically trigger the “I’m pregnant” response. After all, constipation is a common sign of PMS (source: Mayo Clinic). 

So, imagine you’re expecting your menstrual period and get hit with a bout of constipation instead. That could just mean your period is on its way, and PMS is preceding it. Furthermore, constipation is a pretty common ailment. Over two and a half million people go to the doctor because of it every year (source: My Cleveland Clinic). 

And the potential causes of constipation are many. My Cleveland Clinic lists common constipation causes as including the following: 

  • Lack of fiber in the diet
  • Not drinking plenty of water
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Too much milk or cheese
  • Stress

And those are only a few items on a very long list. If you’re trying to determine whether or not constipation might be related to pregnancy, you’ll want to see if there are any other early obvious signs.

Is Constipation and Gas a Sign of Pregnancy?

Constipation coupled with gas could be a sign of pregnancy, but it isn’t always. Frequently, constipation and gas go hand-in-hand, no matter why you’re constipated. 

However, increased gas can be an early pregnancy symptom (sources: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center & National Center for Biotechnology Information). 

When you become pregnant, your body immediately begins producing more estrogen and progesterone, and both of those can wreak havoc on your GI system. Gas is a common side effect of this hormonal increase. 

If you aren’t usually a gassy person and suddenly start experiencing both gas and constipation, you might want to pick up a pregnancy test. However, don’t get too excited (or worried) just yet. These same hormones are released when you menstruate, so even this combination could signify PMS instead of pregnancy.

Is Constipation and Bloating an Early Pregnancy Sign?

Like constipation and gas, constipation and bloating can collectively be considered an early pregnancy sign. However, also like constipation and gas, constipation and bloating can also occur because of PMS or because you’ve eaten too much dairy. 

Healthline lists the combination of bloating and constipation among its list of 15 early signs of pregnancy. These symptoms also occur because of the increase in estrogen and progesterone levels, and one is often the cause of the other (source: Healthline). 

For example, pregnancy hormones could cause your digestive tract to slow down, leading to constipation. In turn, that constipation can make you feel overly full and bloated. It often leads to cramping, as well. 

woman with acne on her face and neck

Is Constipation and Acne a Sign of Early Pregnancy?

Constipation and acne can be early symptoms of pregnancy. They can also be signs of PMS. They result from the increased release of estrogen and progesterone, which happens during both pregnancy and menstruation. 

Are you starting to see a trend here? Increased levels of hormones lead to all kinds of unpleasant things. Hormone levels increase during pregnancy. However, they also increase while you’re menstruating. 

That’s what makes it so tough to differentiate between early symptoms of pregnancy and PMS. Often, the symptoms are the same for both. Other signs of pregnancy that are also PMS and menstruation symptoms include: 

However, if you’ve had similar PMS symptoms for years and are now experiencing something new – acne, for example – then you could potentially be pregnant. 

The best way to know for sure, of course, is to take a pregnancy test. Then, if it shows a positive pregnancy result, have it confirmed by your doctor. 

woman with constipation sitting on a toilet bowl

Can Constipation Be a Sign of an Ectopic Pregnancy?

Constipation isn’t generally a sign of ectopic pregnancy. However, unexplained abdominal pain is an indication. In fact, it’s the most common symptom of ectopic pregnancy and shouldn’t be taken lightly. 

According to an article in the Canadian Journal of Surgery, abdominal pain is the “single most consistent feature” of an ectopic pregnancy (source: Canadian Journal of Surgery). That kind of abdominal pain and cramping can often be confused with constipation, especially when women haven’t had a bowel movement in a while. 

Therefore, if you can have children and are experiencing abdominal pain that can’t be explained by anything else, it’s essential that you have it checked out by a health professional. An undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy can be extremely dangerous, so don’t take any chances with it (source: My Cleveland Clinic). 

I know this article probably didn’t leave you with the definitive answers you were hoping to get. However, facts are facts, and the facts are that constipation could be a symptom of pregnancy – or something else. If you have any concerns, then speak to your healthcare provider.