If your period is late and you show a negative pregnancy test, you may be confused or concerned. Late periods weigh on your nerves, especially if you’re active, sexually. Whether your period is just a day or even a week late, it can add stress to your already busy life.
So, does a late period mean that you’re pregnant, even if you have a negative result from a pregnancy test?
Pregnancy is the main cause of missed periods
Missed or late periods can be early symptoms of pregnancy. The hormones that will support a growing baby effectively turn off your routine menstrual cycle. If you are pregnant, you won’t have a normal period again until your baby has been born.
The pregnancy tests available over the counter are not as sensitive to the hormones that increase during pregnancy, so if you took a test as soon as you realized you had missed a period, wait about a week and take another one.
There are many other reasons for late periods
Your menstrual cycle is a delicate thing, and it can be impacted by many internal and external factors, like stress, lifestyle habits and medications. These can throw your period timing off track. Technically, though, you will not be diagnosed with lack of menstruation, or amenorrhea, until you have missed three monthly periods consecutively.
Some of the most common reasons for a late period include:
Anxiety and Stress
When you are worried, worn out or anxious, your body may produce hormones like cortisol, which is the hormone that thickens the uterine lining in preparation for implantation, after ovulation.
If you’re stressed, your body may appropriate progesterone from your menstrual cycle for the creation of cortisol. This can cause late periods, as well as problems in fertility.
If you’re a new mom and are breastfeeding, you are more prone to late or missing periods. This is caused by higher than usual levels of the hormone prolactin in your body. This hormone is essential in the production of breast milk, but it does suppress the other hormones related to normal menstrual cycles.
If you have imbalances in your body’s hormones, your periods may be late. If you are entering the period before menopause or suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome, you may have late periods, irregular ovulation and even missed periods.
The period right before you enter menopause, known as peri-menopause, can be confirmed by your physician with a simple blood test that measures your follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. If those levels are shown to be elevated, this suggests that there is no ovulation occurring. Hormone imbalances are common in premature menopause in some younger women, too.
There are various medications that may cause you to have a late period. Birth control shots, pills and implants may cause late periods, or cause you to miss periods altogether. In addition, some antipsychotics, chemotherapy drugs, thyroid medications and anti-depressants may cause irregularity in periods or late periods.
Too much exercise can sometimes delay normal periods. It can stress your reproductive system, leading to problems in fertility and normal periods. To keep your periods regular, exercise moderately for only a half hour or so each day.
Diseases of the Thyroid Gland
If you have problems with your thyroid gland, you may experience abnormalities in your periods. They may be late, or not occur at all.
If you have an overactive thyroid, called hyperthyroidism, you may have light or infrequent periods. If you have an underactive thyroid, known as hypothyroidism, you may have heavy bleeding or periods that are more frequent than they should be.
Abnormalities of the Uterus
There may be physical problems in your uterus that cause late periods. If you have cysts, polyps or fibroids, or endometriosis, you may have late periods or other abnormalities in your menstrual cycle. Endometriosis is a disorder or the reproductive system that happens when the cells that should be in your uterus grow instead in other body areas.
If your diet is high in carbohydrates, or you don’t generally have a healthy diet, you may not be getting the proper nutrients your body needs for regular menstrual cycles. Lack of vitamins and poor eating habits can cause late or light periods. If you drink too much alcohol or caffeine, this can also cause your periods to be late.
Are late periods something to worry about?
Your body has its own menstrual cycles, and not every cycle is like the rest. You may only get a periods four or five times a year. Some women even have periods two times a month. Others have spotting between periods, or heavy periods every two to three months. This is usually caused by irregular ovulation.
Most late or irregular periods aren’t a dangerous thing, and they are relatively easy to treat. They are usually caused by ovulation problems or hormone imbalances that your physician can treat.
If your late periods or menstrual irregularities worry you, contact your gynecologist, and find out what the reasons are for your issues.
Why would you have a negative pregnancy test during a late period?
You could be pregnant if your period is late, and it’s just not showing up on your early pregnancy tests. If you are having pregnancy symptoms along with a late period, and still have a negative home test, check with your gynecologist to have a more accurate test done.
You may also not be pregnant, and still have a late period, for the reasons mentioned above. Ovulation can be affected by many aspects of life.
Dealing with Irregular Cycles
Your physician may prescribe you birth control pills in order to help in regulating the function of your uterus and ovaries. This usually results in more regular cycles. For your part, you can eat healthy, get plenty of rest and exercise moderately. You may also speak with your gynecologist about nutritional supplements that will help to promote a better balance in your body, and regulate your cycles.
If your period is four days or more late, or you miss your period for three or more times in a row, with negative pregnancy test results, you should consult with your gynecologist, so that your uterine health can be evaluated.
Most problems that come from stress, diet or glandular issues can be treated using medications that will help in restoring your regular menstrual cycles.
What do the experts say about late periods with negative pregnancy test results?
Experts in female reproduction tell us that home pregnancy tests are wrong most often when the true result from a physician test is negative, rather than positive. The hCG hormone presence is what leads to a positive test, but just because you have gotten a negative test, doesn’t mean that you are necessarily not pregnant.
If you have conceived but you test for pregnancy too soon, you may see a false negative result if the implantation has not yet taken place. This is one of the reasons why gynecologists recommend that you take a pregnancy test one week or more after you miss a period. At that time, the hCG is more likely to show up in the urine test.
If you feel that you have waited a sufficient time, and you still get a negative result on your pregnancy test, that usually indicates that you aren’t pregnant. Discuss this with your physician, since it could be a temporary delay in the menstrual cycle because of stress or other reasons, or whether you have a medical issue which needs to be further investigated.