Reasons of Missed Period & Negative Pregnancy Test

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Dr. Deepinder Kaur (Obstetrician and Gynaecologist)
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Before the release of the first at-home pregnancy tests, it was difficult for women to reliably know if they were pregnant. Even now, an at-home pregnancy test can lead to many questions for women, such as: ‘Why have I had a delayed or missed period but still have a negative pregnancy test?’

These issues can cause great concern for women, and here we will touch on some of the reasons why a woman’s period might be late, even if their pregnancy test is still negative.

Is There a Possibility of Pregnancy If Your Period Is Late but Pregnancy Tests Are Negative?

It is possible that you are pregnant if your period is late and your at-home pregnancy tests continue to be negative, although it is unlikely. Normally, the cause of the late period will be something else besides a pregnancy. Most pregnancy tests are highly very reliable.

Reasons for No Period and Negative Pregnancy Test

The reasons for having no period and a negative pregnancy test are complicated and can include both situations where you are pregnant and where you are not pregnant at all.

The following lists provide reasons for why you might have no period and receive a negative pregnancy test in both situations:

1. If You Are Pregnant

These could be the reasons for your negative pregnancy test if you’re pregnant:

Low-Sensitivity Pregnancy Test

This means that the pregnancy test you purchased from the store is only capable of detecting pregnancy when hCG levels are quite high. Such a test will not be able to detect pregnancy at a very early stage.

Drinking a Lot of Fluids Before the Test

This can dilute the hCG levels in the urine. In these cases, try to avoid drinking a lot of fluids before your test. Holding urine for several hours before collecting a sample, or testing a sample collected in the morning can ensure pregnancy.

Carrying Twins or Triplets

In some cases, carrying twins or triplets can produce high levels of hCG and will result in at-home pregnancy tests not working well. This is known as the “high-dose hook effect”.

Misusing the Test

Make sure you are reading and properly following the instructions of the pregnancy test, particularly with respect to “reaction time”.

Ectopic Pregnancy

This is rare but occurs when the fertilized egg implants itself somewhere other than the uterus (such as the fallopian tube), delaying the production of hCG and causing abdomen pain.

Faulty Test

In very rare cases, there may be anti-hCG antibodies in the test reagent which do not bind well with the hCG hormone composition of a woman, resulting in a delayed positive.

Test Taken too Early

If you take the pregnancy test too early, your body might not yet be producing enough hCG hormone to detect pregnancy. Normally, hCG can only be detected in the urine two weeks after conception.

Too Far Along in Pregnancy

At-home pregnancy tests are normally designed to detect early molecular forms of hCG, and being too far along in the pregnancy can sometimes lead to problems with detection.

Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD)

This is a very rare disease wherein tumours in the layer of cells (known as the trophoblast) surround the embryo.

2. If You Are Not Pregnant

These could be the reasons for your negative pregnancy test if you’re pregnant:

Thyroid Problems

Women with thyroid problems can experience abnormalities in their menstrual cycles, including late or missed periods. In cases of hyperthyroidism, there can be infrequent or light periods, and in cases of hypothyroidism, there can be too frequent or heavy periods.

Too Much Prolactin

This usually happens in breastfeeding mothers. Prolactin is a hormone that enables breast milk production, but it can simultaneously suppress the hormones associated with a menstrual cycle.


Some medications – such as implants, antidepressants, thyroid medications, chemotherapy drugs, and antipsychotics – can cause late periods or abnormal menstrual cycles and activity.

Stress and Anxiety

Too much stress and anxiety in everyday life can in some cases lead to a delayed – though very rarely missed – period.

Uterine Abnormalities

Physical defects or problems with the uterus – such as cysts, fibroids or polyps – can lead to late periods or other menstrual abnormalities.

Too Much Exercise

Intense exercise or high-interval exercise regiments can stress the reproductive system, leading to late periods or fertility issues.

Imbalanced Hormones

Underlying hormonal imbalances can lead to late periods. For example, with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), women often experience irregular ovulation and late or missed periods.

Fertility Treatment

If you normally have a short menstrual cycle, fertility drugs like Clomid can extend the cycle length. Also, if you went through IVF, IUI, an injectable cycle or other related treatment, it can throw you off your expected period date.

Woman holding pregnancy test

When Should a Late Period With a Negative Pregnancy Test Be Taken Seriously?

A late period in combination with a negative pregnancy test should be taken seriously when there are problems with the thyroid gland or when the brain produces too high levels of prolactin. In both cases, a doctor can prescribe medications which can help you with these symptoms.

If you have a late period that is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately and/or go to the emergency room:

What Should You Do When You Have Missed Your Period but There Is a Negative Pregnancy Test?

If you are frequently late for one to two weeks and/or miss more than three periods in a row with the tests remaining negative, you should consult your doctor for evaluation. In most cases, there is a simple explanation for a pregnancy test being negative but still not having a period.

Often a missed period with no pregnancy symptoms and with a negative pregnancy test may not require you to see a doctor at all. However, when diagnosing the problem, it can sometimes be difficult to separate from your daily life what might have caused your period be late, for which seeing a doctor will be useful.

It is more likely that your period is late than that a pregnancy test is negative, meaning that a late or missed period in combination with a negative pregnancy test often means you are not pregnant, though not always. Common reasons for a late or missed period include anxiety and stress, fertility treatments, imbalanced hormones, and medication and thyroid problems, among others. In some cases – such as a delayed positive, misuse of a pregnancy test, a faulty test or low-sensitivity test or other rare reasons –you can be pregnant and have the test be wrong. If you are late on your period by more than one or two weeks, it is recommended you follow-up with your doctor.

Also Read: Ways To Calculate Safe Period To Avoid Pregnancy

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