Are there any pregnancy symptoms you might experience as soon as a few days past ovulation (DPO)?
Many women recognize changes in their bodies a few weeks after ovulation. There are the classic symptoms of tiredness, irritability, and stomach cramps. Then comes the bleeding as your period starts, or not, as the case may be.
But is it possible to pick up on pregnancy symptoms in the very early days? Let’s look at the most common DPO symptoms in the first 14 days.
Basics of the Menstrual Cycle
Before we detail the DPO symptoms you might experience, it will help if you understand the stages of your menstrual cycle. This is what prepares our bodies for pregnancy each month.
1. Phase One
The first phase of your cycle is the follicular stage. This phase begins with the start of the period and ends when you ovulate. It covers approximately days one to 13 of your cycle.
2. Phase Two
This phase is the start of ovulation. Ovulation happens around day 14 of your cycle. The ovary releases an egg, which is carried along the fallopian tube to the uterus. If it encounters a viable sperm along the way, fertilization may occur.
3. Phase Three
Days 15 to 28 constitute the luteal phase, in which the uterine lining prepares itself for a fertilized egg. It becomes a soft, spongy, egg-friendly environment.
Two things can then happen. A fertilized egg may find its cozy home and embed itself in the uterine lining during implantation.
Or, if the egg has avoided the sperm, the remaining follicle cells shrink and hormone levels drop. This sets off the trigger for your body to release the uterine lining, and menstruation begins.
What Happens in the Days Past Ovulation?
Now that you understand the fertility cycle, let’s consider the symptoms we can expect between days 14 to 28 of our cycle and whether they indicate pregnancy or not.
It’s not an exact science since all women are different. But let’s look at some more common DPO symptoms you might experience, from as early as the first day after an egg has implanted.
1. Tender Breasts and Sore Nipples
Are you waking up and finding your breasts are a bit more tender than usual? You might even find your favorite, most comfortable bra doesn’t give you any relief.
This breast discomfort is one of the first signs that a new life is growing inside you. You may experience it from the first day past ovulation, and it can continue throughout your pregnancy (1).
Along with tenderness in the breasts can come soreness in your nipples.
All that bouncing around during your morning run can aggravate the soreness! Investing in a good sports bra or maternity bra could be the way forward.
Remember, though, that these are symptoms you might generally experience around the time of ovulation anyway, whether you’re pregnant or not. It’s a result of the surge in hormones. However, it’s likely to be more exaggerated than usual when you’re pregnant.
Those same hormones could be at it again, making you feel extra tired. All the physical and hormonal changes going on in your body are making it work harder than usual. Even though you’re sleeping a lot, maybe even more than usual, you still have no energy (2).
From about 10 DPO you might feel the need to take naps.
One of the best pieces of advice I was given when pregnant was: if you’re tired, sleep. Mid-afternoon naps became the norm, and I rarely stayed awake later than 10 p.m. each night.
3. Abdominal Cramps
Tummy cramps are something many of us experience every month. For some, they’re mild and manageable; for others, they’re excruciating and debilitating.
Cramps are also quite normal during early pregnancy. You might feel these cramps as a mild pressure or a quick, sharp pain. They could even be felt as soon as the egg nestles into the uterus, at about 6 DPO.
Your womb can grow rapidly during the early stages of pregnancy, bringing with it these uncomfortable feelings. After all, it’s preparing itself to house your baby for the next nine months.
While these pains are generally nothing to worry about, if you’re concerned in any way, it’s best to see your doctor.
4. Pinching and Pulling in the Abdomen
As well as getting stomach cramps, some women describe a sensation like their muscles being pulled or stretched. Some feel like something is pinching them inside their abdomen.
These feelings are quite normal and can happen from six days past ovulation and onwards. While this might be a bit uncomfortable, it shouldn’t be painful. If you are experiencing painful cramps or bleeding, contact your OB provider.
5. Frequent Urination
We all know that needing the bathroom more when you are pregnant is something most women experience. At this early stage, you won’t be reaching for the pack of adult diapers or letting out a drip when you cough, sneeze or laugh.
However, you could experience the need to pee a little more often than usual.
This is partly to do with those sneaky hormones yet again. They can make your blood flow to your kidneys quicker, filling your bladder with more urine.
Another contributing factor is the increase in the volume of blood in your body. So, as well as moving quicker, there’s more blood passing through the kidneys. This means more waste products and a full bladder (3).
This can start as early as 9 DPO, and the bad news is it’s unlikely to get better until after the baby arrives.
As your pregnancy progresses, pressure from your baby and uterus on your bladder increases. This will have you in the bathroom what feels like every five minutes.
6. Increased Sense of Smell
Just like Spiderman has his spidey senses, pregnant women also get superpowers. One of these is an increased sense of smell, which may be noticeable from day nine post ovulation and onwards. For some, this can be a good thing; in others, it’s not so great.
For me, it was definitely a bad thing; just the smell of coffee or fried food sent me running to the bathroom.
No one knows what causes this odd superpower, but those darn hormones could be the culprits again. Combine them with increased blood flow, and your nose goes into overdrive (4).
There is a theory that nausea and vomiting in pregnancy is a protective agent from our hunter-gatherer days. This would keep a woman who doesn’t know she is pregnant yet from eating game that had spoiled or ingesting potentially contaminated food (5).
Editor's Note:Caitlin Goodwin, MSN, RN, CNM
7. Nausea and Sickness
This is the one symptom that hit me like a train for the first four months of pregnancy. It can begin as early as ten DPO, and this was the case for me. Even before I thought about peeing on a stick, the thought of drinking tea and coffee nauseated me.
These feelings affect different women at different times of the day. Some get it in the morning, others in the afternoon, and a few unlucky ones suffer all day long.
Again, it’s one of those things that just happens without the exact cause being known. It could be hormones, as they’re still running the show, or it could be our new increased olfactory ability.
Heightened progesterone levels can affect the gastrointestinal system, causing it to become a little sluggish. This could increase gas and bloating and make you feel sick (6).
Your new super smell sense can also contribute to nausea. You may have to relegate that cologne you bought your partner last year to the back of the bathroom cabinet for the next nine months.
While you loved it at the time, it now makes you feel sick, as does the smell of many other things.
8. Increased Appetite
Some of these symptoms are a contradiction in terms. One day, you’re feeling nauseous, and the next, you feel like you could eat everything off the fast-food menu.
It could be that you’re craving foods you wouldn’t normally eat. It might be savory things like pizza and other fast foods, sweet things like chocolate or candy, or a particular kind of fruit. Some moms have strange cravings, such as the proverbial ice cream and pickles!
There are few hypotheses for why this happens. It could be hormonal, or it may be your body telling you what nutrients it needs (7).
Whatever the cause, an increase in appetite, especially if you aren’t feeling nauseous, can begin at about 10 days past ovulation.
9. Enlarged Breasts
Bigger breasts are one symptom many will welcome while others will dread.
You may gain a whole cup size — and that’s just during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy!
Larger breasts can start manifesting as early as 10 DPO and keep growing from then on (8). You may also notice a crisscrossing of blue vessels across your growing bosom as blood flow increases to the area to prepare for breastfeeding.
You are riding the waves on a stormy sea during the early stages of pregnancy. Mood swings can be pretty extreme. You may be euphoric one minute but inconsolably down in the dumps the next.
It’s those hormones wreaking havoc again. Moodiness up to 4 DPO can indicate that “Aunt Flow” may be on her way, but between days five and seven, it could swing either way, just like your mood.
If you think about all the changes taking place in your body, it stands to reason that everything will take a while to adjust.
Weepiness is something all pregnant women will likely experience. While your hormones are working hard to build a baby from scratch, an unpleasant consequence is that you may feel a little more sensitive than usual.
You might cry at the drop of a hat — I know I did. Sad films were a no-no unless I wanted to use up a whole box of tissues. Even the wrong words at the wrong time could set me off (9).
12. Dizzy Spells
Some women experience dizziness during early pregnancy, especially if they aren’t eating properly or have low blood pressure. It can manifest itself as early as 5 DPO.
One moment you feel fine; the next, you need to sit down as you feel faint. Luckily this symptom is usually temporary and will settle down as your pregnancy progresses.
This could be the result of the egg implanting in the uterus, and it seems to last anywhere from a couple of hours to a day or two. This is one of those instances where you should see your doctor if you’re concerned.
For some, it could be a sign of early miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, but for most women, the pregnancy will continue to full term. If you’re concerned, your OB provider can do back-to-back blood tests to check that your pregnancy hormone levels are increasing as they should.
The Bottom Line on DPO Symptoms
There are many symptoms you may experience in the days after you ovulate. However, there’s only one sure way to know whether you’re pregnant or not, and that’s to do a test.
What is a sure-fire thing is that every woman is different. Some might be unlucky enough to experience all the symptoms we’ve mentioned, while others may feel just a few or none at all.
Either way, you now have some insight into what can go on in your body after that egg is released from your ovary.
Remember, if any of these symptoms concern you, see your health care provider for advice.