It’s the million dollar question when you miss a period – could I be pregnant?!
If your period has done a no-show, this is one of many signs of pregnancy, but it doesn’t automatically mean that you could be pregnant. Firstly, lets look at some basics, assuming you haven’t taken a pregnancy test as yet.
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. If you do track your cycle and know when to expect your period, 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 4 weeks out from your last period and you ovulate at around day 14. Did you have unprotected sex around 2 weeks ago? If you’ve not had a period for 5 weeks, did you have unprotected sex 3 weeks ago? And so on…
Not sure how to tell if you’re fertile or not? Have a read of Cervical Mucus, Ovulation and Your Fertile Period.
3. Do you have any pregnancy signs or symptoms?
There is a great list of early pregnancy symptoms worth checking out. If you can relate to some of those, this may strengthen the case for being pregnant.
No Period – 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 missed or no period.
1. Are You Taking Any Medications Or Are You On The Pill?
I’m not a huge fan of the pill, but the times I have taken it in the past, I have experienced messed up cycles and even fallen pregnant on it. While it’s usually a reliable form of contraception, its not 100% fail-proof, nor does it come without its fair share of side effects. It is a very common reason why your cycle may have been messed up. I was put on the pill quite young due to problems with my cycle – I was only 15 years of age and went off it when I was 20. I had problems with my cycle and a blood test showed some very skewed hormone levels, which the doctor didn’t explain to me at the time that it was likely from being on the pill all that time.
It’s worth having a check up with your doctor to find out if your medications are messing with your body. You also might like to consider natural fertility management. As my naturopath, Nicole Tracey (who is also a natural fertility educator) once said to me, ‘It doesn’t make sense to take a pill every day of the month when you’re only at risk of conception for about 5 of those.”
It made me realise that we’re putting unnatural levels of hormone into our body every single day to protect us from pregnancy for just 5 days out of a month. There are three days before ovulation (sperm can live for up to 72 hours inside your body) and an egg can survive for around 24 hours once released. I highly recommend looking into this method which is much better for your body and easy once you’ve learnt some basics.
2. Have You Been Sick Lately?
Illness can throw your cycle out. 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 definitely create havoc on hormones. Have you been under any intense stress of late? When we’re stressed, hormones can prevent ovulation and or a 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.
- Get a good nights 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. I find acupuncture to be very effective and also relaxing – I have fallen asleep on the treatment table many times!
- 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 veggie juices are a great way of boosting vitamin and mineral intake too.
- 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 wheat and sugar as you can will make a big difference, and try 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 and to get a better understanding or visual on your weight loss, myself and other BellyBelly members love (and have lost weight by using) the iPhone application called, ‘My Fitness Pal.’ You pop in your weight, goal 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. The database of foods is great, I have found calorie counts for all sorts of foods I didn’t expect. I also use Run Keeper which is a great motivator to get out and about. 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 mentioned above, the My Fitness Pal iPhone app can help you with your fitness and weight goals.
6. Are You A Shift Worker or Frequent Traveller?
If your body clock is all out of whack working various shifts 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 nights, travel or whatever it is that is not agreeing with your body.
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 and fertility issues. While the cause of PCOS isn’t known, one theory is that it’s the result of increased insulin production in the body. It’s important that PCOS be treated as it can have other serious side effects. PCOS also appears to run in families, so if someone in your family also has it this may be the cause.
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?
I have been very blessed to have a long periods of time before I got my period back post birth. It was around 18 months with my first two before my period returned, after my first, I got pregnant on the first cycle so never had a full period (I was only spotting, and we wanted to try for a second so we gave it a go around a guess of ovulation time two weeks later!). With my second bub, my period returned but I had problems with it. It was very heavy for a while and all over the place. After putting up with it for two years (and probably the cause of iron problems I then had) I ended up having acupuncture to regulate my cycle. This worked after one treatment and I was gobsmacked. It was the first time I tried acupuncture for anything and I haven’t stopped using it since, for all sorts of ailments.
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.
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.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to confirm a pregnancy is to do a test. This will rule it out for you once and for all. If you make sure that you have a healthy lifestyle, then you should be well on your way to having a normal cycle again.