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Pregnancy Scare! Why Is My Period Late?

Updated on August 15, 2009

It's been estimated that every day, a significant number of women are panicking their nuts off (head nuts, not the other nuts, that wouldn't make any sense,) because their period is late. Sometimes it's a day late, other times its more like 10 days late. Sometimes it has gone utterly AWOL and not been seen for many cycles.

If it's more than a couple of days late most women reach for a pregnancy test, which, generally speaking, unless they're pregnant, comes back negative. Now there are women who report that pregnancy tests, even ones which claim to be 99% accurate sometimes don't pick up a pregnancy until six to eight weeks after conception, however those women are in the minority. If you are not actively trying to get pregnant and you haven't been engaging in unprotected bedroom shenanigans, it is fairly unlikely that you are pregnant.

Getting pregnant, as the plethora of forums filled with women sharing their wanting-to-be-pregnant-but-not-being-pregnant woes will soon teach you, isn't always as easy as simply omitting to use protection. Sure, unexpected and unplanned pregnancies occur all the time, but conception isn't nearly as easy as one might think. The egg itself only lives for 24 hours, and with sperm being able to eek out a life existence of around 72 hours, your maximum window for getting pregnant in any month is about three days around ovulation time.

If you've taken a pregnancy test and your period is still missing, take the advice of the inimitable Douglas Adams and DON'T PANIC. Women's bodies are temperamental things at the best of times. Our systems are delicately tuned to respond to external conditions (stresses) as they are to internal conditions (sickness, hormonal imbalance.) When big things are going on in your life, ie, perhaps you're being affected by a global recession, or maybe you're moving house, perhaps even dealing with family problems, your period can come late because your ovulation may be delayed.

Ovulation is the process whereby your body releases an egg hoping that there will be some sperm to meet with it in the womb region. If the egg does not meet with any friendly and vigorous sperm, then it dies, is ejected and a couple of weeks later you commence your menstrual cycle.

Now, if your ovulation was late for any reason, your period may be late too, by up to a few weeks sometimes. If you have had unprotected sex and you suspect that you may indeed be pregnant, then you can test with a home pregnancy test no sooner than three days after the last test. If that continues to come back negative, but you really do think you are pregnant, then seeing your doctor and getting a blood test is a fairly sure way to tell.

In some rare cases, conditions such as hyperthyroidism may lead to periods skipping or being missed entirely. If your period remains late beyond a couple of weeks, it is a good idea to go and get a check up and see if anything is amiss. It is usually a fairly straightforward matter of having a few tests and having your cycle kick started again if the doctor deems is necessary.

Above all, remember to always carry your towel and refrain from panicking.


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    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 7 years ago from United States

      Mine was late a lot due to cysts when I tried to get pregnant. So I kept thinking I was pregnant. It took me months to realize that the reason I was having many of the pregnancy symtpoms was because I had huge cysts that would stimulate certain hormones tha would make my chest swell, my period be late, and sometimes even nauseous. I think I would have rather had the scare than the hope. lol. :)

    • DAlfor profile image

      DAlfor 8 years ago from Redmond, WA

      One of the things a sexually active woman should do is to be acquainted with a natural fertility monitor or any natural form of contraceptive. This should at least eliminate one cause of panic for delayed periods.

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 8 years ago from DC Area

      Pregnancy tests drain your wallet, but give you a relative piece of mind. LOL