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When a Missed Period Means You're Pregnant

Katlyn Joy | 8, November 2013


You've passed that little red star on the calendar and Aunt Flo just hasn't come to town. Does that mean you're pregnant or that your period is late for some other reason?

A missed period may mean you're pregnant but it can be due to a number of other factors. Think of your period as an indicator of normal menstrual health. If your health is good, your periods should be regular — like clockwork. When you get pregnant, your cycles will react by either stopping your period altogether or slowing down. A missed period may be sign that you are pregnant, or it could be something else.

When a missed period probably means you're pregnant

You had unprotected sex in the last month.
No protection + sex = baby. That is an easy formula. Don't try to alter the equation with "But I just finished my period — I wasn't fertile then," or "He pulled out." These are not likely to interfere with the simple equation of woman plus man equals pregnancy.

Breast tenderness.
One of the early pregnancy signs, most women who are pregnant will relate that this type of breast tenderness quickly becomes far more intense than that they experienced as part of PMS.

Another likely early symptom, and again, it will differentiate itself quite quickly from any regular PMS ickiness. Some women don't vomit, but the thought of many foods, or all foods, suddenly makes them queasy.

Extreme fatigue.
Overnight, the couch and the bed have strange and powerful gravitational pulls. The fatigue will be pronounced in lots of women.

PMS plus infinity.
Do you get hormonal with PMS? Have mood swings? Hang on tight, because pregnancy hormones will be elevated in your system and make PMS make you look like Miss Congeniality in comparison.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several other telltale signs such as dizziness, food cravings, constipation, slight bleeding or spotting, and cramping that may be similar to period cramping.

If you are unsure if you are pregnant, it is best to take a home pregnancy test. If the test comes back negative, try taking the test in week. If your period still doesn't come after taking two home pregnancy tests, or your period is a couple weeks past due when it's usually comes like clockwork, it is time to call your doctor. She will have you take a blood test to find out for sure if you are pregnant. In the meantime, don't do anything you wouldn't want to expose your unborn child to such as:

  • Drinking alcohol,
  • Partaking in risky physical behavior,
  • Smoking,
  • Taking drugs or prescription medications that are known to be harmful to fetuses.

What else could cause a missed period?

Amenorrhea, specifically secondary amenorrhea, is when a woman misses three periods in a row. If ever you skip periods in this way, you should speak to your gynecologist. Something is indeed amiss if you are missing periods. Here are a few of the possible reasons besides being pregnant that can delay or stop periods:

Strenuous exercise.
If you are training for a marathon, or recently began an intensive workout schedule, this can throw off your cycles.

Weight changes.
Amenorrhea can be caused by weight changes, and being overweight or underweight can interfere with your normal menstrual cycle.

This is a biggie, and rather unspecific but if you have noticed an increase in the amount of stress whether at home, work or due to other physical concerns, your body might react by shutting down your periods.

Polycystic ovary syndrome.
This condition is fairly common and can cause a number of problems including inconsistent periods. It also may cause weight gain, acne, thinning hair, increased body hair, depression and high blood pressure.

Some medicines can mess with your natural cycle, particularly prescription hormones.

Thyroid issues.
If you have hypothyroidism, your periods might be delayed or absent.

If you are in your 40s this may be due to changes in your hormone levels and months of skipped ovulation may directly result in no period.

Cysts on reproductive organs.
If you have a cyst, you may have a delayed period.

Other illnesses or conditions.
Other medical problems can throw off your monthly cycles.

Unfortunately the wait and see answer is hard to avoid. If your period starts, you know what's up. If it stays away and the signs of pregnancy multiply and grow along with your waistline, you will know a baby is likely on the way.

Related Articles

Am I Pregnant or is this PMS?

8 Signs You May Be Pregnant

What Being Pregnant Really Feels Like

Didn't Know You Were Pregnant?

Pregnant Moms Say, "Oh, My Aching Back!!!"


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