DPO Symptoms: What to Expect From 1 to 12 Days Past Ovulation

by Aug 4, 2021

If you’re already familiar with some fertility acronyms, you probably know where we’re going with this post: today, we’re going to talk about the two-week wait (TWW), an infamously difficult time for couples who are trying to conceive (TTC) and the DPO symptoms that accompany it.

ovulation calendar

While you’re waiting to take a pregnancy test, you might be eager to keep an eye out for any potential signs of pregnancy in your body. Let’s break down exactly what happens during those 12 days past ovulation (DPO), including early pregnancy symptoms day-by-day, after an egg gets fertilized.

Pregnancy Symptoms After Ovulation Day by Day

Days 1-6 Past Ovulation (1-6 DPO)

Ovulation is a crucial moment, as it’s the first day of the TWW. You probably remember that during ovulation, the egg is released from the ovaries. The egg then travels to the fallopian tube to meet the sperm and get fertilized.

The released egg is only viable and available for about 24 hours, meaning you need to have sexual intercourse in the five days before or 24 hours after ovulation for the best odds of pregnancy. Mira can assist you in tracking your ovulation for the most precise results.

If the egg is successfully fertilized, it becomes an embryo. In the next 5-7 days, the embryo undergoes multiple divisions until it becomes a blastocyst. That’s when it’s ready for implantation.

So, in the first week after ovulation, the embryo is developing, but has not yet implanted — meaning that, in most cases, your pregnancy has not officially begun. However, it’s important to remember that all pregnancies are unique, and yours may not follow the exact pathway described in this blog post!

1-6 DPO Symptoms

The first 6 DPO also bring on key hormonal changes in the body. During this first week following ovulation, your body produces more progesterone, peaking on 6-8 DPO, regardless of whether the egg is fertilized or not.

Any pregnancy symptoms you feel during the first 6 DPO will most likely result from the effects of progesterone on your body and mood, very similar to those you may experience before your period. Those symptoms include:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Cramps in the abdomen, pelvis, or lower back
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches

Days 7-11 Past Ovulation (7-11 DPO)

The next step is the developed embryo reaching the uterus and implanting in the uterine lining. Typically, implantation happens 6-12 days after fertilization (and usually not earlier than 7 DPO).

Progesterone gets your uterus ready to accept, implant, and maintain a fertilized egg. This hormone prevents muscle contractions from happening in the uterus that can cause a woman’s body to reject an embryo. After the embryo is successfully implanted, progesterone helps create a nurturing environment for the developing baby.

7-11 DPO Symptoms

For about 25% of women, implantation is accompanied by implantation bleeding – slight bleeding or spotting that is lighter in color (from light pink to rust-colored) than your usual menstrual flow. Implantation occurs because a couple of blood vessels in the uterus are damaged during implantation. It only lasts from a few hours to a day or two and usually is very light in flow.

However, it’s important to remember that implantation bleeding is not the most reliable sign of pregnancy, because in some cases women can have a chemical pregnancy (a very early miscarriage) or the spotting can be a sign of another health issue. So, don’t rush to conclusions before the TWW is up!

Along with implantation bleeding, you may experience the following symptoms:

Light or faint cramping (less painful than your normal period cramps), which may be accompanied by pulling and/or tingling sensations

  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Breast tenderness
  • Lower backaches

Again, as you can see, these symptoms are very common and are similar to the signs of the second part of your cycle, the luteal phase, or an upcoming period. So, you’ll have to wait a little longer until your body produces a significant amount of pregnancy hormone before experiencing any sure symptoms of pregnancy.

Days 12-14 Past Ovulation (12-14 DPO)

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) is the hormone that pregnancy tests use to detect pregnancy. Your body begins producing hCG at the moment of implantation, but it takes 2-3 days for the hormone to build up to a certain detectable level. This usually doesn’t happen until at least 12 DPO, so don’t hurry to take a home pregnancy test before 13 DPO.

12-14 DPO Symptoms

According to the National Institutes of Health, as hCG hormone levels grow, women may experience these early pregnancy symptoms:

Unusual fatigue (feeling sleepy), dizziness, or lightheadedness (feeling wobbly, often when you get up after lying down). This happens due to changes in blood vessels carrying oxygen to the brain — not to mention that a huge amount of energy goes into building a placenta, the life-support system for your baby!

Changes in breasts, such as darkening in the color of the nipples, soreness, or nipple sensitivity. Breasts can swell, feel heavy and full, feel tender, tingle, or even itch.

  • Changes in taste and smell, specific food cravings, strong aversion to certain foods and smells, or a metallic taste in your mouth.
  • Gastrointestinal changes, such as increased hunger, cramping, bloating, water retention, diarrhea, or constipation.
  • Morning sickness. Nausea, especially when you are hungry, and/or vomiting may happen at any time of day, despite what the name suggests!
  • Frequent urination. The need to empty the bladder more often is caused by pregnancy hormones that increase blood flow to the kidneys and pelvic region.
  • Headaches and/or muscle aches.
  • Raised basal body temperature, and/or changes in blood pressure and heart rate. During pregnancy, the body pumps more blood to carry nutrients to the fetus, which can cause changes in temperature, blood pressure, or heart rate.

Some women cannot explain any specific symptoms or changes in their bodies, but they intuitively feel that something is “off:” they describe it as feeling unlike themselves or different than usual.

DPO Symptoms: What if You’re Not Pregnant?

Regardless of whether you are trying to conceive or not, the two week wait can be a notoriously frustrating time.  No symptom alone can confirm pregnancy and every woman is different.  The only way to confirm pregnancy is by taking a pregnancy test but there are some benefits to knowing what is happening internally if you’re not pregnant.

What’s happening in your body if you’re not pregnant

Your menstrual cycle is what prepares your body for pregnancy each month, but if that doesn’t happen it returns to a predictable series of events to carry on for the next month.  If a fertilized egg hasn’t found its way to the lining of your uterus for implantation, that lining is no longer needed and the familiar shed and subsequent bleeding will eventually take place.

Since premenstrual symptoms can look very similar to those of an early pregnancy, it can be hard to tell what those symptoms might mean.  The differences between pregnancy and an impending period are subtle and can vary from woman to woman.

Symptoms After Ovulation if You’re Not Pregnant

The symptoms you may experience during your menstrual cycle after ovulation can look very similar to those of early pregnancy.  Some of the symptoms you may experience if you’re not pregnant include breast pain and cramping.

Breast Pain

This familiar pregnancy symptom can be confusing since it also happens for many women in the weeks leading up to your period.  Breast swelling and tenderness can occur in the days past ovulation as estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate.  Estrogen causes breast ducts to enlarge and progesterone contributes by causing the milk glands to swell.  So, as these hormones increase in the second half of your menstrual cycle, your breasts may start to feel sore.

Leading up to your period, you may experience a dull, heavy pain accompanied by tenderness or feelings of fullness.  But since these symptoms are tied to hormone levels, the pain usually improves during your period or right after as progesterone levels go back down.

Cramping

Cramping of any kind in the abdominal region can be uncomfortable, but many women experience this every month with their menstrual cycle making it hard to tell whether this is a sign of pregnancy (like implantation cramping) or another period.  As confusing as they can be, there are subtle differences between the two.  In most women, period cramps originate in the uterus and can range from mild to intense or severe while implantation cramps are usually described as milder and less intense.

Because pregnancy hormones can affect gut health, and implantation may or may not be accompanied by bleeding, it can be an extra confusing symptom.  Period cramps usually happen 24 to 48 hours before your period and gradually decrease with your flow whereas implantation cramping occurs most often between 6-12 DPO so may be felt sooner.

Other possible causes

Although many of these symptoms are signs of early pregnancy, there may be other reasons for them as well.  The hormonal changes a woman goes through each month, whether she’s pregnant or not, can cause a variety of physical changes and resulting symptoms.

Hormonal Imbalance

Estrogen and progesterone regulate your monthly cycle and most definitely play a role in pregnancy, but if they are out of whack, then other problems might result.  Functional issues with the ovaries, thyroid gland issues, and medications can all impact hormone levels and lead to noticeable changes in the body.

Stress

Stress is a normal and natural part of the human experience, but it can directly impact your physical health and you may start to experience symptoms as a result.  In addition to the mood swings, fatigue, and headaches you may be experiencing, stress has the potential to lead to a number of long-term issues as well.  And since symptoms of stress can manifest as emotional, physical, or cognitive symptoms, they may be confused as one of the signs of early pregnancy.

It’s important to note that stress cannot cause infertility directly, but it can impact your fertility in other ways.  The good news is that there are practical ways to manage your stress while you are trying to conceive.

We hope that this blog post will make the TWW easier for you — but don’t worry if you don’t experience these symptoms exactly as described: every pregnancy is a unique experience, so you won’t necessarily experience all of these early pregnancy symptoms or experience them in the same sequence.

Try not to stress about whether or not you’re pregnant. (We know: it’s easier said than done!) Do your best to listen to your body and let things flow. Any sign could be a good one — so, good luck, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed for you!

✔️ Medically Reviewed by Katerina Shkodzik, M.D., OB-GYN

Dr. Katerina Shkodzik is a certified OB-GYN with a special focus on reproductive endocrinology and infertility issues. She has been practising since 2015.

Dr. Shkodzik completed her residency program in the Department of OB/GYN at the Belarusian State Medical University and fellowship program in the Department of Gynecological Surgery at the Medical University of Bialystok, Poland.

Dr. Shkodzik is extensively involved in digital health projects providing her medical expertise and integrating of cutting edge technologies in medical science and clinical practice since 2018.

Dr. Shkodzik has participated in several studies focused on PCOS, endometriosis, menstrual cycle characteristics and their abnormalities based on big data of digital health in collaboration with leading universities.

She believes that paying special attention to women's health is a crucial step to improving the world we live in.

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