What does it mean if your period is late, but a home pregnancy test is negative? Is it a symptom of underlying disease or another problem? Did you accidentally pick out a defective test kit? Whatever the reason, it’s important to find out what’s going on with your body and take any necessary steps to get everything back in proper working order.
Possible causes of a late period but you’re not pregnant
On average, a woman’s menstrual cycle lasts up to 35 days. Usually, women with irregular periods don’t panic if their period is a few days late. But, if it doesn’t come after 7-10 days of the expected date, you need to find out why
The following can all be causes of a late or missed period.
A woman’s body is very sensitive to stress. It is known that during times of war, a lot of women had their periods stop completely or at least for several months. It was a specific protective reaction. Being in dangerous circumstances isn’t the best time for carrying a child, so the body curtails the ability to become pregnant.
Today, while they might not be facing actual warfare, women still have plenty of stress to deal with. Fear, anxiety, ongoing tension and even anger or euphoria can delay the monthly menstrual cycle.
If you drink alcohol moderately, don’t smoke often or abuse drugs/other substances, then your cycle should not be disrupted. However, if you start drinking or smoking more heavily or consume other harmful substances it can affect your period. Likewise, if you try a potentially harmful substance for the first time, it can mess up your period. Consequently, suddenly stopping drinking, smoking or using drugs can also delay your period.
The foods you eat can also impact your cycle.
- Certain foods trigger the release of hormones. For example, consuming too many oysters, avocados, or asparagus spears can increase testosterone.
- Overly spicy, fatty, salty food negatively affect the functioning of all body systems.
Most women know that oral contraceptives are comprised of hormones. However, not everyone is aware of how affect the body. Properly chosen oral contraceptives are beneficial, but the pills will alter the normal functioning of the body. That’s why it’s important to have oral contraceptives prescribed by your gynecologist. Don’t try to self-medicating by using over-the-counter remedies. Your doctor will discuss the potential risks and side effects of hormonal treatment. He or she will also monitor you for the first few months to see how your body is tolerating the regimen.
Even a simple cold with low fever can delay the onset of menstruation. Any type of illness—no matter how minor—stresses the body. Chronic disease, such as serious kidney problems, can cause infertility. Make sure you are following your doctor’s orders and taking good care of yourself. Poorly managed health conditions do not bode well for pending motherhood.
Intense life activities
Any intense undertaking, such as studying for an exam, heavy workload or strength training can throw hormones out of balance. This in turn, can cause menstrual cycle irregularity. Attempts to abruptly lose weight also have a negative impact on the reproductive system. An example is women who do weight lifting. It’s easy to notice they have a massive upper body, but this does not extend to the pelvic region. Generally, their physique is similar to a man’s. One of the reasons is because the male hormone, testosterone, increases during intense strength training. This doesn’t mean that you should skip the gym, but instead, increase your strength and body mass gradually.
Sudden climate or activity changes, traveling or even changing to a different diet, can affect your menstrual cycle.
Natural hormonal changes
There are three main causes of natural hormonal changes in the body:
- Pubertal period. Adolescence—going through puberty—is a time of intensive physical and emotional transformation for a woman. This is a time of fundamental maturation of the body. Some girls’ menstrual cycles stabilize after only a few months or for some, years after the onset of menstruation.
- Climax. It’s another crucial event when hormones are changing greatly. Climax builds gradually, so the cycle begins to fluctuate a lot.
- Lactation. On average, non-breastfeeding moms’ periods restore in two months after delivery. But for women who have chosen breastfeeding, menstruation will start again only after they stop feeding. However, it returns no later than one year after childbirth.
Even the slightest weight gain can cause issues with your menstrual cycle, conception and pregnancy—potentially creating problems with gestation and fetal development. Obese patients have increased risk of infertility and lessened changes of conception. Being overweight can also create health problems for both the mother and her unborn child.
Problems with the reproductive system
This category includes fibroids, various cysts and other conditions such as endometriosis. They might be asymptomatic. In rare cases, a woman begins to feel pain or heaviness in the lower abdomen, fever and sudden onset of nausea. If there is inflammation, then abnormal vaginal discharge may occur.
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Usually, with early intervention, surgery will not be required.
What to do next?
Recheck the result
First, check the home pregnancy test you’ve already taken.
- Was it past its expiration date?
- Was there any damage to the kit or the packaging?
- Were the storage terms followed correctly?
- Did you follow the instructions carefully?
If your answer to all the above questions is “no,” you can try to repeat the procedure in 2-3 days with another test or several. Sometimes it is very useful to ask relatives or friend to help you interpret the result. Anticipation and nerves could cause the woman herself to “imagine” or “ignore” the second line.
Analyze other symptoms
Is the test still negative but your period is still late? It’s time to analyze all your symptoms.
- Do you have a headache? Have you had any dizziness?
- Have you experienced any painful or pulling sensations in your lower abdomen? Have you noticed any vaginal discharge?
- Did you take your temperature (basal too), blood pressure and pulse? Are they normal?
- Do you have nausea, vomiting or gastrointestinal problems? Have you been peeing a lot recently?
- Does your condition worsen while moving or while you’re in a specific position?
- Has your weight changed lately?
- Has your appearance (color and condition of the skin, hair, nails, etc.) changed?
After you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to move on to the next step as soon as possible.
Visit the doctor
After an external examination, the gynecologist may prescribe:
- A lab test for hCG level detection (perhaps its concentration is too low in the urine for now, and the blood test is needed)
- An ultrasound of your genitourinary system
- CT (CAT) and/or MRI of the brain (to exclude the possibility of certain types of tumors).
Your doctor may also refer you to another specialist (endocrinologist, nephrologist, therapist; less often to a cardiologist, or psychotherapist) for additional testing.
Poor health, a missed period and negative home pregnancy test together can turn into a serious problem without the help of a doctor. It is better not to risk your health and immediately seek medical attention. Even if your body is well, the gynecologist help put your mind at ease and alleviate your symptoms and discomfort.