You may feel confused if you miss your period, but receive a negative pregnancy test. Are you currently pregnant? Are you pregnant?
First, don’t panic. There are many reasons why you might miss your period, but not receive a positive pregnancy test. However, it is rare to have a false negative pregnancy test result (assuming that the test was performed under optimal conditions).
These are the most likely explanations for
- Your period is not due to be missed
- Although you are currently pregnant, the pregnancy hormones are not yet strong enough to detect.
- The test has stopped working because you are pregnant.
- You’re pregnant but something is wrong.
It can be emotionally difficult to get a negative outcome when you expected one. The majority of the times, the uncertainty will disappear within a few days. Either you’ll get your period, or another test to confirm that you’re pregnant. It is less common for something to go wrong, but this is very rare.
This is a list of reasons you might get a negative pregnancy test if your period has missed.
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The Positive Pregnancy Test: Now What!
False Negative Pregnancy Test
False negative pregnancy tests are when the test shows that you are not pregnant. False negatives are most commonly caused by taking the test too soon. You might experience an irregular or off-beat cycle from time to time. You might also be missing a few days from the date of your last period.
A home pregnancy test that is sensitive will not give you a positive result until enough time has passed between conception and ovulation, and enough hormones have been accumulated.
You will need to test again if ovulation happens later in the month. You might have a different reason than usual for ovulating later than normal.
Pregnancy tests check for the pregnancy hormone, hCG. This hormone increases with each pregnancy. There is a wide range of hCG levels that pregnant women can have. Your levels may not be high enough for detection (especially if your period isn’t overdue).
A pregnancy test done early might show very low levels of hCG. It is possible, however, that you don’t have enough circulating HCG to give a positive test.
This does not mean that anything is wrong. It doesn’t matter how much hCG you have. What matters is how fast your levels increase and decrease (this can only been measured by a blood test).
A false negative can also be caused by not enough hCG in the urine. Drinking a lot of water prior to testing can help dilute the hormone level in early pregnancy.
If you test in the afternoon, it is more likely that this will happen in early pregnancy. It is more likely that the hCG level is higher if you have held your urine for a long time. This is why it is recommended to take a pregnancy test early in the morning.
What is a negative pregnancy test?
Pregnancy Test Errors
Test errors can also lead to false negatives. False negatives can also occur if you delay reading the results. False positives are more likely when you wait too long to read the results.1 Follow the instructions on the specific pregnancy test that you bought. You should read the results within the recommended time frame to avoid any confusion.
An expired test is another possible reason for a false positive. A test that has been expired can also malfunction if it is not stored correctly (e.g. in a hot, damp bathroom cabinet).
Rare Test Malfunctions
False negatives can be caused by a rare and counterintuitive reason. A pregnancy test could be negative if you have a period that is several weeks or months late. This is known as the variant hook effect.4
A false negative can also be caused by the possibility of triplets, twins, or other unusual circumstances. A false negative pregnancy test could be caused by the high dose hook effect. Unusually high levels of hCG can lead to a false negative pregnancy test.
False negative pregnancy tests are very rare. This is because the anti-hCG chemicals in your test do not react to the hCG hormones in your body. You might have to wait for a positive result, or you may need to take a blood test.
To confirm your pregnancy, you might need a blood test for pregnancy or an ultrasound.
If you have not had your period for a few days, it’s worth re-taking the test. Talk to your healthcare provider if you get a negative pregnancy test.
Rare Reasons for a False Negative
An ectopic pregnancy may result in a false-negative test result. This is rare. Ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo implants outside of the uterus. It is most common in the fallopian tubes but can also occur elsewhere.
Ectopic pregnancy is not a normal development process and the fetus will not be viable. Delay in the formation of the placenta can cause hCG to be produced. If the fallopian tube ruptures, an ectopic pregnancy could be fatal.
Call your doctor immediately if you feel severe pain or your period is delayed.
Ectopic pregnancies, which occur in approximately 1 in 40 pregnancies, are uncommon. They can prove fatal. About 9% of all pregnancy-related deaths are caused by an ectopic pregnancy.5
A false negative pregnancy test can also be caused by a rare condition called gestational tumoroblastic disease (GTD). GTD is a rare form of cancer that develops from a developing embryo. A molar pregnancy can result in a healthy baby in less than one hundred cases. A molar pregnancy usually ends in miscarriage.
GTD can cause extremely high levels of HCG. High levels of hCG can cause a negative pregnancy test, as mentioned above. GTD can be a tumor but is rarely considered cancerous. Treatment usually involves a D&C. Chemotherapy may be necessary if pregnancy hormone levels are high.
A Review of Home Pregnancy Tests
Reasons Why Your Period Is Late
A delayed period or a negative pregnancy test are the most common reasons for a late period. It is normal to have one or two irregular periods per year. This does not necessarily mean that you are having a problem.
Your period could be late for the following reasons:
- High stress
- Hormonal birth control
- Poor sleep
- Too much exercise
Your entire cycle can be disrupted by excessive stress or illness just before ovulation. Your periods may be irregular if you are breastfeeding or your cycle has just restarted. It can be difficult to tell when your period is late because of this. It could indicate that you are in perimenopause if your period is late if you’re in your 40s. However, you shouldn’t assume that you aren’t pregnant. You can test anyway!
You may also experience irregular periods if you have recently stopped using birth control pills. Birth control can affect your natural cycle and prevent you from ovulating. It can take several months for your hormones to return to normal after you have taken hormonal birth control. It is not unusual for the first few cycles of hormonal birth control to be slightly irregular.
Although it is less likely, you can get pregnant within the first month of stopping birth control.
Fertility treatment is another reason for an off-cycle. Clomid (clomiphene), which is a fertility drug, can prolong your cycle if your cycles are usually short.8 This could also happen if you have just had an IVF, IUI or injectable cycle.
If you were being monitored during treatment, you will likely know when your ovulation day was. The “ovulation date” can be described as:
- The day for insemination
- Day of your egg retrieval
- Within 24 to36 hours of receiving a trigger shot
You can determine if your period is late by counting 14 days from the day you “ovulate”. Your period is not “late” if it hasn’t been 14 days.
Irregular Periods and Amenorrhea
You might miss your period for a longer time due to pregnancy. Most people experience their period on a regular basis, but some women may have irregular periods. It can be difficult to tell when your period is due. It is possible to miss a period or more altogether (amenorrhea span>
What is Amenorrhea?
Amenorrhea can be defined as not having your period for more than three cycles consecutively. This condition can fluctuate depending on many factors, including pregnancy and menopause.
There are other possible causes for late periods or not having menstruation for several months.7
- Being severely under or overweight
- Radiation and Chemotherapy
- Excessive exercise
- Hormonal imbalances (like thyroid problems or PCOS)
- Antidepressants and blood pressure medications
- Problems with either the hypothalamus, pituitary or both
- Scar tissue found in the uterine line
- Birth control forms (sometimes this is an intentional result)
Do not assume you cannot get pregnant if you don’t have your period. You could ovulate again depending on what caused your inability to conceive. You could fall pregnant without realizing it, since you won’t miss your period.
Call your Provider
A pregnancy blood test can be done if your period is more than two weeks late and you are still getting negative pregnancy tests. Talk to your provider if your periods are irregular or frequent. Most providers will request that you have a period if your periods last longer than two to three months. This depends on your situation.
Your provider should be consulted if your cycles have become irregular or if you are experiencing irregular periods for longer than three months following the discontinuation of birth control. Infertility can also be caused by irregular cycles.