Pregnancy Tests, Late Periods, & Conflicting Results
Explanations for a missed period and a negative pregnancy test….
One of the most frustrating things a woman can experience is having a late period and a negative pregnancy test! It does not matter if you are trying-to-conceive or if you’re trying-not-to-conceive, a late period and recurring negative pregnancy test results can lead to a great deal of stress, worry, confusion, and conjecture on what might be happening…. Am I pregnant? If so, then why the negative test result? If I’m not pregnant, then where is my period?!?
First off, having a late period and a negative test result is not necessarily a paradox. There are a few possible explanations. Indeed, in many cases there may be explanations other than pregnancy for why your period is late or has gone missing. There are also possible situations where a missed period is indeed caused by a pregnancy, and you nevertheless receive a negative pregnancy test result. Let’s take a closer look at these two possible scenarios, and explore some of the possible causes.
Let’s say that you have a missed period and have already noticed a few early pregnancy symptoms, etc, but your pregnancy test still tells you that you are not pregnant. What could be going on? Are you experiencing a “false negative pregnancy test”? If so, what causes false negatives?
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Assuming that you are pregnant, the most simple explanation is that the test you have purchased from the drugstore is of a lower-sensitivity. This means that the test is capable of detecting pregnancy only when the level of hCG reaches a certain threshold, and the test is simply not sensitive enough to yield the positive result. Many test brands still ask you to wait at least until the first day of your missed period to test. One solution here it to simply use a more sensitive brand – and ensure that you follow certain pregnancy testing tips that will increase the accuracy of the tests by guaranteeing that the hCG level in a particular sample will be at its highest potential. Click here to learn more about these pregnancy testing tips. The key tip for getting an accurate result is to use a first morning urine sample.
Next, following instructions is quite important as well! Learn how to properly use and read the test, and respect the given “reaction time”. Do not discard a diagnostic kit until the completed reaction time (typically between 5 and 10 minutes) has elapsed. The test must also exhibit a control line for the test to be considered valid.
In some cases, a woman may drink a great deal of fluids before collecting a urine sample, thereby diluting the amount of hCG present in the urine. If your schedule prevents you from using a first morning urine, avoid drinking a lot of fluids before testing – and try to hold your urine for several hours before collecting a sample.
It’s also a fact that hCG develops at different rates among women. Some women can easily discover if they are pregnant well before their missed period. Other women may need to wait a bit longer. According to the literature on this subject, the amount of hCG in your urine doubles each day following the implantation of the fertilized egg in the womb. Based on studies to determine an “average” hCG development rate, the crest of the bell curve suggests that hCG levels will reach 20mIU/ml/hCG at seven to ten days following ovulation. Again, this is an “average”, so many women will fall on either side of the bell curve peak.
Also, in our discussions with test manufacturers, there may be rare cases in which the particularly anti-hCG antibodies in the test reagent do not “bind” as well with the particular hCG hormone composition of a pregnant woman. This can result in receiving a slightly delayed positive result. While this is quite unusual, it may explain many of the complaints you can read at Drugstore.com about even the most expensive and sensitive test brands causing delayed positives after a missed period.
In even more rare situations, low (or falling) hCG levels can also theoretically indicate a problem with the pregnancy or an ectopic pregnancy. If you have missed your period and are experiencing pregnancy symptoms, at some point you may wish to contact your doctor regarding a blood hCG test to determine the cause of the missed period, or an unexplained negative test result.
On the other hand, there may be reasons for having a missed or very late period that have nothing to do with being pregnant! For women with irregular cycles, being late now and then is part of the “normal” pattern. Predictability is less of science and variation in cycle length is the rule, not the exception. Other factors that can influence a missed period are, of course, things like increased stress, anxiety, or sleeplessness. Stress and anxiety produce specific hormones in your body – stuff like cortisol (the hormone behind your “fight or flight” response) or adrenaline. Long periods of stress or anxiety can affect the balance of reproductive hormones and delay ovulation or the onset of menstruation. This is pretty normal stuff today, in our stressed out world. So if you are stressed, don’t let worrying about cycle regularity add fuel to the fire. Also note that travel and jet-lag can cause period-lag as well.
As a remedy to stress and anxiety, regular exercise and a healthy diet are the key. In fact, good health is the cornerstone to successfully achieving pregnancy. On the other hand, being overweight or underweight can impact hormonal balance and cause irregularity, and in some cases prevent menstruation all together. Often, women who are long-distance runners or training for a marathon may have irregular cycles or even stop menstruating. This is simply a normal reaction to intense physical conditioning – a change in hormone balance. However, for women who are trying to conceive, a healthy diet and exercise regimen will reduce stress, get you in shape, and help balance your menstrual cycle. Talk to your doctor about a healthy lifestyle for your unique body, age, and medical history. Supplements like FertilAid for Women can also provide preconceptional nutritional support with a special combination of safe herbs to help promote hormonal balance and cycle regularity.
Of course, if you are on birth control or Depo, or have recently discontinued birth control, then cycle regularity can be an issue, as well as missed periods. These medications do function by altering the balance of your reproductive hormones. If you have any questions, talk to your prescribing doctor.
While peri-menopause is the last conclusion you should jump to (in fact, only a doctor can diagnose any issues here), premature menopause is a theoretical explanation for missed periods. You can, however, test for early menopause at home with an FSH test. High levels of FSH on day three of your cycle would indicate that your body is working overtime to stimulate follicular development. High FSH tests may suggest a low ovarian reserve (peri-menopause) requiring a follow up test with your physician.
Finally, if your period is very late and your pregnancy test is still negative, you may wish to talk with your doctor or Ob/Gyn regarding possible explanations or suggestions, health tips, or treatments. A pre-pregnancy check-up is always a good idea, anyway, if you are trying to conceive.
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