Can Ultrasound Detect Pregnancy before Missed Period?

Your monthly cycle is one of your body’s earliest signals that you’re pregnant. It is why full-term gestation is counted as 40 weeks from the first day of your last menstruation. But can ultrasound detect pregnancy before missed period?

An ultrasound can detect a gestation sac at around four to five weeks of conception, but not earlier. By that time, you’ll have missed your period. Your baby’s signs of life, noted through cardiac activity, start at the sixth week of pregnancy. However, transvaginal ultrasounds are used early in the first trimester to get closer to the developing embryo.

While signs may be few and far between before missing your period, an ultrasound scan won’t reveal you’re pregnant yet. If you’re experiencing symptoms that make you suspect you’re in a delicate condition, a home pregnancy test will set your mind at ease. In this article, let’s talk about ultrasounds when to take the scan, and the results you can expect depending on the type of test.

What Are Signs of Pregnancy before Missed Period?

Before missing your period, there’s no 100% way of knowing for sure if you’re pregnant. You can get a blood test or use a home pregnancy kit with reliable results, and then weeks later, an ultrasound exam.

However, some signs or symptoms could give you an early hint of your pregnancy before missed period. While these may vary on an individual basis, they include;

Sensitive or Sore Breasts

Aching and soreness in your breasts are the earliest signs of becoming pregnant, even before a missed period. Your boobs will feel tender to the touch, heavier than normal, and appear fuller. Rising progesterone hormone levels cause this. The symptoms may either subside after a couple of weeks or prevail throughout pregnancy.

Darkened Areolas

Areolas are the dark circles surrounding your breasts nipples, and you will notice them darken after a week or two of conceiving. Alongside sensitivity all over the boobs, this is one of the earliest signs that you’re pregnant.


During the first week, and almost all of that trimester, you’ll be exhausted due to lower blood pressure and sugar. That’s caused by hormonal changes. These hormones also interact with your muscles, joints, and ligaments for that sluggish feeling.

Morning Sickness

While this is worse for some than others, a queasy feeling accompanies you everywhere from a week after conception. Often, morning sickness, although not relegated to mornings only, is the first sign you’re not alright, a precursor to many pregnancy tests. Nausea will continue to the fourth or sixth week for many would-be mums, but to the seventh or eighth month of gestation if you’re unlucky.

Vaginal Discharge

Before missed period, you may note thick, sticky white or pale-yellow vaginal mucus in the form of discharge. Uterine preparations triggered by increased hormones cause that. As your cervix softens, thin secretions may continue throughout your pregnancy.

Implantation Bleeding

Around the 10th or 14th day of conceiving, you’ll notice light bleeding or spotting. That usually occurs a week before your expected menstrual period, but it’s a lot lighter. Implantation blood spots should minimize or decrease after two or three days.

Frequent Peeing

As your body increases blood capacity in preparation for supporting the new life, kidneys work overtime to process all that fluid. That again is triggered by pregnancy hormones and results in frequent urination. Bathroom breaks at all times can begin as early as two weeks after conceiving. Later, the growing fetus will also start to put pressure on your bladder.

Rise in Basal Temperature

Basal Body Temperature is taken when you’re at rest, preferably in the morning after waking up. If there’s a rise in your BBT, it’s an indication that you’ve conceived following ovulation. You can notice this change a week or two after conception. That works best if you’ve been tracking ovulation and know your pre-pregnancy and cycle-wide BBTs.

Bloated Stomach

One of the early symptoms of pregnancy before missed period is a stomach that feels bloated all the time. Due to hormonal changes, your digestive system slows down, leading to gas, constipation, and bloating. You may also experience mood swings, stomach cramps, nasal congestion or headaches, and dizziness.

How Can I Know That I Am Pregnant Before Missed Period?

It’s impossible to ascertain that you’re pregnant on the symptoms above alone, as they can be confused with conditions like premenstrual stress or PMS. If you think the signs differ from previous months, you can take a home pregnancy test or see a doctor even when you’re yet to miss your period.

However, with a home pregnancy kit, you’re also likely to get a false-positive result. That gets generated when you’re taking a particular medication or from an ectopic or chemical pregnancy.  You can get a reliable confirmation of pregnancy through a urine or blood test at your doctor’s.

The first week of pregnancy technically begins the first day of your last monthly period. That’s before ovulation or fertilization has taken place, and you’ve conceived. A lot of hormones get produced by your body, including an escalation of regular estrogen and progesterone.

One early pregnancy hormone is human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG, which the home pregnancy test detects. Once the embryo attaches to the intrauterine walls within a gestation sac, it doubles every two or three days.

Another is human placental lactogen, also known as hPL. Some tests can detect if you’re pregnant after a week to your expected period. Urine and blood exams will tell of hCG levels in your system, and positive results more likely than not can confirm your pregnancy.

How Soon Can Ultrasound Detect Pregnancy?

Ovulation occurs amid your menstrual calendar. Thats when the ovum is fertilized by a spermatozoid.  Afterward, the fused cells travel down the fallopian tube to the uterus, becoming embedded in a developing mucus layer. At this stage, an ultrasound scan is used to reveal whether these tubes have blockages, a leading cause of infertility in women.

If your obstetrician-gynecologist seeks to detect pregnancy using an ultrasound exam, several conditions must be fulfilled. These include;

Your Pregnancy’s Term

You have to give sufficient time to embryo growth time. That makes it easy to discern it against a background of mucus layers. 

Lack of Inflammation

The ultrasound shouldn’t reveal any inflammation within your uterus mucus layer. While this can cause swelling, it interferes with the fertilized zygote’s growth and detection ability. That can also point to a chemical, ectopic, or pregnancy you’ve recently lost.

Type of Ultrasound Technique

Ultrasound diagnostics must match how early or late your pregnancy is. An obstetric-gynecologic technician or radiologist can use an abdominal or transvaginal scanner in 2D, 3D, or Video 4D, each offering different digital results.


You may have conceived your baby a few weeks before your expected period, which means an ultrasound is impractical for detecting the pregnancy. A scan can be performed on the 5th or 6th day afterward using the intra-vaginal sensor if you miss it. You can do a more detailed exam after the 5th week when the technician can confirm your pregnancy beyond suspicion.