You're late but you're not getting a positive result when you take a pregnancy test - we explain why this could be.
You're late, the anticipation grows, you take the test but get a big fat negative - possibly one of the most disheartening experiences of trying for a baby.
So, to help you figure out why aunt flo is missing in action but you aren't getting a positive test, we explaining what could be causing your body to play this incredibly confusing trick on you.
A false negative
Pregnancy tests are designed to detect the presence of the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) in your urine. Your body releases this chemical shortly after you conceive and a fertilised egg has implanted in the lining of your womb. After your pregnancy becomes established the levels of hCG produced roughly double in quantity every day throughout your first trimester. So, by the time you miss a period (roughly two weeks after ovulation) they should be high enough to be picked up by a pregnancy test and able to give you a positive result.
However, technically it is possible to get a false negative result (where you are actually pregnant but it doesn't show up on the test) if, for example, you ovulated later than expected, used an older less sensitive pregnancy test that requires higher levels of hCG to be present for a positive result to appear, or took the test after later in the day after drinking a lot of water (it's best to test the first time you go to the toilet after waking as hCG levels will be higher and more likely to be detected soon after waking).
Because of this, if you have missed a period but get a negative pregnancy test result it can be a good idea to re-test a few days later, making sure you following the instructions to the letter, just to be sure that your negative isn't a positive in disguise.
Whether or not you usually suffer with irregular periods it's completely normal to experience some variation in the length of your cycle. For this reason it is possible that you actually ovulated later than expected meaning that implantation would not have occurred until a little later and consequently levels of hCG would not be sufficient to produce a positive test result at this time. However, by the same thread it is possible that your period will simply come a little later than expected too.
Coming off contraception
Hormonal contraceptives such as the pill work by artificially controlling the balance of reproductive related hormones in your body. So, once you stop taking them it can be several months before your body is able to reestablish the natural rhythm of its own menstrual cycle. For this reason it is possible that your periods will be irregular for a couple of months as your cycle and hormone fluctuations return to normal, potentially making you late or even miss a period entirely on occasion.
It is because of the time that it takes for your cycle to regain its natural regularity that many health care professionals recommend holding off trying to get pregnant for a couple of months after coming off hormonal contraception because it is much easier to confirm your pregnancy and estimate the likely date of conception and your baby's developmental age if you conceive when your cycle has returned to 'normal'.
Prolonged stress and anxiety can upset your body's hormonal balance to such an extent that your regular menstrual cycle is disrupted and menstruation is delayed. For this reason it's important to stay as calm as possible on a day to day basis whether the cause of your stress if the fact that you're trying to conceive or something else. Talking about both how your feeling and the cause of your anxiety should help you to feel a little better while getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and eating well will leave you feeling better able to cope.
While moderate exercise is likely to improve your general health, help to balance your hormones and consequently boost your fertility, it is possible that excessive exercise such as that undertaken by professional athletes and those training for a marathon may cause menstruation to
cease temporarily. If you feel that this is something that may apply to you it is advisable to discuss the suitability of your training program with your doctor.
Just as with excessive exercise, being very under or overweight or severely restricting your diet can disrupt the hormonal balance that controls your menstrual cycle and ability to conceive. If you think you may have some weight issues that are affecting your ability to get pregnant it's a good idea to seek advice from your doctor as soon as possible as they will be able to advise you on the best course of action.
There are a number of medical conditions that will cause you to miss a period and get a negative result when you take a pregnancy test. So, it's generally advised that if you miss 3 or more consecutive periods you visit your doctor so that he or she can investigate whether there is an underlying problem that needs treating.
Have you been confused by missing a period but getting a negative test result? Why not visit the AskBaby forums and share your experiences and questions with other AskBaby members who are also trying to conceive.