Can I Be Pregnant After a Negative Test?
So you felt like you were pregnant - perhaps your period was even late and it never has been before. Maybe you had pregnancy symptoms like feeling nauseous or having sore boobs. You took a test and it was negative. You are maybe feeling deflated or confused and wondering why this is.
Here we try and explain some reasons why you may have had a negative pregnancy test despite thinking you were pregnant and whether or not you might still be pregnant.
Why You Could be Pregnant After a Negative Test
You Took the Test Too Soon
Pregnancy tests show up as positive if there is hCG in the urine to trigger the reaction in the test strip. This will only happen if there is enough hCG. HCG builds up as the pregnancy progresses, starting from when fertilization occurs. For some people there will be enough hCG in the urine around 6-8 days after ovulation, but for other people this may happen later, at around 12-14 days after ovulation.
If you get a negative result but tested very early in your cycle then you may want to wait another 2-3 days (or even a week if you can) to take another test.
HCG Takes a While to Build for Some People
For some people the levels of hCG may take a while to build up in the body and so you may not have a positive pregnancy test until a few weeks into the pregnancy.
If you really are convinced that you are pregnant and your period has not arrived after another week then take another test.
Cryptic or Stealth Pregnancy
This is something that happens rarely but can still happen! There are 2 types of cryptic or stealth pregnancies - the main type that you will find reports on is women who don't know that they are pregnant until they are about to give birth - and the second type is where a woman is convinced she is pregnant but the tests say negative.
In the second case it seems that the pregnancy cannot be detected by standard clinical tests like pregnancy tests. For some reason there is no detectable hCG either in urine or blood tests and women have been known to have been turned away by doctors because of negative tests when they are in fact pregnant.
In some cases it has also been difficult to see the baby via an ultrasound, perhaps because of a tilted uterus.
There is a very long discussion with tales from those that it has happened to on Babycenter which makes very interesting reading.
An Incorrect Test
You need to make sure that you have followed the instructions correctly on the test kit. Some tests ask you to use first morning urine (which can be stronger and contain higher levels of hCG) and other tests state that you should not have been to the toilet for a few hours beforehand (for the same reason).
Also make sure you dip or hold the test in the urine for the correct amount of time and read the result in the stated time frame.
Another possibility of an incorrect test is that the test is out of date or has become contaminated somehow.
Why You Might Not be Pregnant After a Negative Test
Your Boobs are Sore
Having sore boobs is caused by the progesterone in the body and this happens towards the end of your cycle when your period is due. However, it occurs more often when someone is pregnant because of the increased amount of progesterone produced by the body.
So you can get sore boobs whether you are pregnant or not, but if you don't normally get them every month then it may make you think you are pregnant if you suddenly get them.
Medical New Today explains why your breasts may be sore just before your period.
Weight Loss or Gain
If you have recently had some significant weight gain or loss than this is something that can make your period late and you are still getting a negative pregnancy test result.
Stress Makes Your Period Late
It is well known that stress can make your period late*. This can then put you in a catch 22 situation where you are stressing about possibly being pregnant because you had unprotected sex and it is actually the stress of this situation making your period late, rather then you actually being pregnant.
Therefore, if you take a pregnancy test after your period is late, it can still show up as negative due to stress.
* A report in PubMed Central concludes that stress, smoking and obesity are significant contributors to irregular menstrual cycles.
If your period is late (it can be up to a week late) and you get a negative pregnancy test then it may be the case that you have had a chemical pregnancy. This means that the sperm and egg tried to fertilize but the process somehow got aborted. This can cause your period to be late by either a few days or up to a week but you may still get a negative pregnancy test.
Hormone changes can make your period late. As this is not something that you can really monitor yourself there may not be any external signs of this happening and so it is not something you will know about.
Women will experience hormone changes throughout their lives whether that be as a result of changes in puberty, peri-menopause, thyroid or other medical issues or PCOS.
Peri-menopause can start 10-15 years before the menopause and these hormone changes can affect and change your cycle length.
Even if your cycles are very regular, there will come a time in your life when that changes - so don't be too surprised when all of a sudden your cycle changes to a different length.
So in conclusion, if you get a negative pregnancy test then the likelihood is that you are not pregnant, but there are exceptions to this rule, many of which we have covered above.
If you still believe that you are pregnant after taking a negative test after your period is due, then it is advisable to take another test 4-5 days later to make sure.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Jackie Grant