Missed period? Negative pregnancy test? Yeah, that can be pretty confusing—mostly because basic health classes failed us all. It may be common knowledge that pregnancy can cause a missed period or periods, but there are other lesser known causes as well. So, assuming you have the missed period negative pregnancy test situation, what else could it be?
A false negative pregnancy test
You can read about the possible failure of pregnancy tests in-depth here, but basically, home tests are not error proof. You could have tested too early, gotten an expired test, misread your result, or even be one of those women that just never get a positive home test (I have known a few and their children). Now a blood test is far more definitive. I have never heard of a false negative blood test (excluding lab error). If you have a missed period and a negative pregnancy test along with pregnancy symptoms, most doctors will still just do a urine test unless you have missed more than one period. So to save you some cash, I’d recommend forgoing alcohol and other not-pregnancy-safe stuff, and wait to see what happens when your next period is due. 90% of the time women who have the missed period negative pregnancy situation end up getting their period—just a bit late. If you miss another period, I’d speak with a care provider for a blood test. It should also be noted, it is possible to have bleeding and be pregnant, you can read about that here.
OK, with that out of the way, what are those other causes? Several hormonal imbalances can mimic pregnancy, the most common of which being high progesterone. Why? Well, progesterone is a hormone that maintains the uterine lining during pregnancy. Its rise is triggered by ovulation, and it remains high until either the egg begins to die so to speak or you become pregnant. If you become pregnant, implantation signals progesterone to continue and increase. If you don’t become pregnant, once levels drop low enough you’ll get a period. It is the high levels of progesterone in early pregnancy that cause many of the common pregnancy symptoms including sore breasts, gas, bloating, and even nausea. This is why some women experience some or all of these issues as PMS. If you have a high progesterone cycle (levels naturally can vary by cycle), you may have a longer than usual cycle (late) along with pregnancy-like symptoms.
Low estrogen can also have this effect as it delays ovulation. When you ovulate late, the second phase of your cycle dominated by progesterone remains the same length in most cases. This makes for a longer cycle as well. Low estrogen is less likely to cause pregnancy-like symptoms, but you may experience vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, and dry skin.
I have another post that goes into other signs of hormonal imbalances that can affect your cycle here in situations such as short periods, irregular bleeding and spotting found here. If you experience more than one cycle indicative of hormonal imbalance, I recommend trying Vitex, a slow-acting herb often effective in hormone balancing. If you aren’t trying to conceive, birth control is also commonly prescribed.
Next, if you fail to ovulate, you may experience repeated seemingly missed periods. I often explain the menstrual cycle as being like dominoes. Each phase triggers the next by altering the hormone balance. Ovulation is the key piece to switching from high estrogen to build the uterine lining and high progesterone to maintain it. If you don’t ovulate for one reason or another nothing prompts progesterone to rise. Depending on your natural hormone balance, estrogen may just continue to build your lining for some time, and you won’t get a period. Some women also experience frequent or irregular periods when not ovulating, but excessively long cycles that appear to be missed periods are more common (note, that these periods are not technically missed, they simply haven’t started yet.) Many women will eventually ovulate during a super-long cycle, and either this, or an inability of estrogen to keep the lining up, leads to bleeding.
Failure to ovulate often has an underlying health cause such as ovarian cysts or low egg reserve. It’s recommended you speak with a health care provider. The exclusion to this is while breastfeeding, when wonky or absent periods is expected.
Hopefully this has shed some light on how you ended up with need to Google, “missed period negative pregnancy test.” If you have any questions feel free to drop me a comment, I do my best to help.
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