It’s the million dollar question when you have a missed period – could I be pregnant?
If your period has given you a no-show, it's just one of several possible signs of pregnancy.
It doesn’t automatically mean that you could be pregnant.
Firstly, lets look at some cycle basics, assuming you haven’t taken a pregnancy test as yet.
Things To Consider After A Missed Period
#1: How Many Days Have Passed In Your Cycle?
If you don’t track your cycle (and I highly recommend you do – check out BellyBelly’s article on charting your cycle) then you may not know the answer to this one. But if you do track your cycle and know the date when your period should have be due, you should have an idea if you’re just a few days off, or quite a bit off. Your period may be late for various reasons – including a possible miscalculation in your cycle days.
#2: Have You Had Unprotected Intercourse While You Were Fertile?
Lets say you’re about four weeks out from your last period, and you ovulated around day 14. Did you have unprotected sex approximately two weeks ago? If you’ve not had a period for five weeks, did you have unprotected sex three weeks ago? And so on…
Not sure how to tell if you’re fertile or not? See our article about cervical mucus, ovulation and your fertile period.
#3: Do You Have Any Pregnancy Signs Or Symptoms?
Here is a great list of pregnancy symptoms worth checking out.
If you can relate to some of those, this may strengthen the case for being pregnant.
10 Reasons Why You May Have Missed Your Period — But Are Not Pregnant
If you’re not sure if you may or may not be pregnant, and assuming you haven’t miscalculated your cycle, here are some possible explanations of a missed period (or no period).
#1: Are You Taking Any Medications Or Are You On The Pill?
The pill is notorious for masking any underlying reproductive problems.
While it’s usually a reliable form of contraception, it's not 100% fail-proof, nor does it come without its fair share of side effects, and it can cause missed periods. Taking the pill can hide any reproductive issues requiring attention, which could be the reason why your cycle may be off the rails.
It might be worth asking your doctor for a blood test to find out if there are any issues with hormone levels. Acupunture is commonly used by fertility patients with great results, so consider seeing a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, who can help to diagnose any issues, regulate your cycle, and let you know when you may need the help of Western medicine.
See BellyBelly's article on why the pill might be prescribed and what effective alternatives you have available to you.
#2: Have You Been Sick Lately?
Illness can cause a missed period.
Even if it’s been just a short illness, it can still effect your hormones.
This shouldn’t occur on an ongoing basis and it’s definitely still worth checking with your doctor if you’re concerned.
Stress can create inflammation in the body and havoc on hormones. Have you been under any intense stress of late?
When we’re stressed, hormones can prevent ovulation and even your period. If you have been stressed, it’s best to look into some ways in which you can decrease your stress levels and regulate your hormones. Some of the best things for stress relief include:
- Exercise – try and get out for even a short walk every day. It helps to clear the mind and boosts happy hormones. Its one of the best things you can do for depression and anxiety. Vitamin D from the sun is a great mood booster too.
- Get a good night's sleep – if you’re not sleeping as long as you should, this needs to be made a priority. If you’re having trouble sleeping, exercise early in the day/morning opposed to night time is a good way to help promote restful sleep.
- Acupuncture – Chinese medicine has been around for a heck of a lot longer than modern medicine and it does work. In fact the World Health Organisation recommends its for a treatment for over a thousand conditions. It's not only effective, but relaxing.
- Boost your vitamin intake – If your diet isn’t great or you in case you need a boost, get a great multi-B supplement and magnesium to help replenish these vitamins that fall victim to stress! Fresh veggies of all colours are a great way of boosting vitamin and mineral intake too. Check your iron (ferritin) levels too, which can make you feel tired and stressed when they're low.
- Massage – great for relieving tension and relaxing tense muscles. Massage isn’t a luxury, its a must with lots of benefits to your mind and body.
#4: Are You Overweight?
If you’re overweight, this can alter hormones and prevent your period. This doesn’t mean you need to lose a drastic amount of weight to get your period again, but you may need to shift some.
If this is the case, cutting out as much sugar and processed foods (especially wheat products) as you can, will make a big difference. Aim to get some exercise each day. If you feel quite unfit (as many of us have at some point in our lives!) start small. Even a walk around the block each day helps, and you can build up from there. Doing something will result in a difference compared to doing nothing.
To help with weight loss, BellyBelly members love the iPhone application, My Fitness Pal. Pop in your current weight, goal weight, and it gives you a target calorie intake per day. You enter in the foods you eat (like a journal) and it deducts the calories for you, so you can see exactly where the calories are going. However, the most important thing is to reduce the calories from sugar and processed food intake.
You might also like to use Run Keeper which is a great motivator to get out and about, no matter if you walk or run. You can program your music into it and it keeps track of time, distance, calories and sends reminders to get out and exercise.
#5: Are You Underweight?
If your body fat level is too low, you can get missed or no periods.
Putting on weight usually rectifies this problem, but its important to put on weight healthily or you could have other health consequences.
As per above, the My Fitness Pal iPhone app can help you with your fitness and weight goals.
#6: Are You A Shift Worker Or Have You Been Traveling?
If your body clock is competing against your shiftwork or if you travel across time zones, your hormones can be thrown out of whack too.
Where possible, try to find ways to help make your schedule more body friendly – cut back night work, reduce travel demands, or do whatever it takes to help your body get into a more natural rhythm.
#7: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the result of a hormonal imbalance which interferes with normal ovulation.
As a result, women with PCOS can have very long cycles, painful ovulation, and other hormonal and fertility issues.
Find out lots of great information in BellyBelly's article on PCOS.
#8: Are You Breastfeeding?
If you’re currently breastfeeding, it may take a while for your hormones to adjust back into normal, regular periods.
Our bodies are really clever – after you give birth, the baby breastfeeding signals the body to suppress ovulation.
Over time, your hormone levels build up enough to the point of ovulating, then menstruating.
For more information, have a look at BellyBelly’s article, Menstruation, Your Period and Ovulation After Baby.
#9: Have You Had A Baby Recently?
If you've just had a baby, your cycle may be irregular at first.
Especially if you're exclusively breastfeeding, it may take a little longer for your period to return to normal.
#10: Other Medical Problems
There are some other medical problems which can result in missed, irregular or no periods. An underactive thyroid can result in irregular periods (as well as weight gain), so when you see your doctor, make sure this is one thing they check out. A thorough check is needed for an accurate result — make sure they test for T3 and T4 in your blood test.
In some rarer cases, younger women can go through menopause early or there could be some other medical reason for your lack of period.
If any of the above don’t relate to you, its worth paying the doctor a visit so you can find out exactly what your hormones are doing and if you need referral to a gynaecologist. There’s no need to expect the worst, sometimes it can be a simple or unexplained thing that resolves itself.
If you've had a missed period, one of the quickest and easiest ways to confirm or rule out a pregnancy is to do a test, then follow up with a fertility specialist (GPs are not skilled in fertility issues, so make sure you get a referral).
If you have no medical problems and have a healthy lifestyle, then you should be well on your way to having a normal cycle again.