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Delayed Periods: When to Suspect Pregnancy?

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Delayed Periods: When to Suspect Pregnancy?

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This article discusses the possibility of unintended pregnancies in young sexually active women and suggests some hints on timing the intercourse to minimize the risk of unplanned pregnancies, and consequently their adverse effects on the female reproductive health.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Veena Madhan Kumar

Published At November 23, 2017
Reviewed AtDecember 14, 2022

Being sexually active brings pleasure along with its own set of risks, unwanted pregnancies being one of them. A delayed period could be a sign you are pregnant, but not always. Periods can be late due to various other factors such as stress, illness, exhaustion, contraceptive pills, obesity, thyroid disorders, and depression, among others. Unless you are actively trying to conceive, the delayed period can give you a great range of reasons to worry. That is why many sexually-active women (and men) almost always fear the worst and get paranoid when it comes to facing the situation of a possible pregnancy at a time when they are not ready for it. The following list will not only clear your confusion but also help you understand how to effectively minimize the chance of pregnancy in the future, especially when you use a combination of two or more factors.

Time of Intercourse:

The timing during your cycle when you have sex is the most important determining factor. Although having unprotected sex during the 'safe period' still carries a 20 % chance of getting pregnant, doing so during the fertile days increases the chances to more than 33 %. Calculate your risk using a safe days calculator. You might take help from a few Apps to keep a record of your periods regularly.

Use of Contraception Methods:

If you use one or more of the various types of contraceptives available, that would drastically reduce the chance of conception. In the case of condoms, the effectiveness is 98 % when used correctly, while the emergency contraceptive pills are 89 to 95 % effective depending on when you take them. Another common form of contraception used is the pull-out method, which is 73 to 96 % effective in avoiding pregnancies, while IUDs (intrauterine contraceptive devices) are effective more than 99 % of the time.


Condoms do a fairly good job in contraception. There are condoms for both males and females. A combination of both can contribute to successful contraception.

  • Male Condoms:

  1. A male condom is easier to use than a female condom.

  2. It is also called an external condom.

  3. It is made of both rubber and latex.

  • Female Condoms:

  1. A female condom is technically called ‘Femidom’’. It is also known as an internal condom.

  2. Female condoms are worn for dual protection.

  3. This might not be very tight and has increased the chances of enhancing the pleasure for men.

  4. An alternate opportunity to wear a condom can excite men.

  5. It is more expensive than male condoms.

There are a few rules to be followed while using a condom. They are:

  1. Your condoms should be stored in a place away from the heat, cold, light, and moisture.

  2. Do not buy and stock too many condoms. Check for the expiry date of the condom before using it. Dispose of the expired condoms.

  3. Do not bite with your teeth or sharp nails to tear open the packets.

  4. Make a pinch at the end of the condom, so that you leave space for the sperm to collect.

  5. If you happen to unroll the condom in the wrong direction, use another one.

  6. Avoid oil or petroleum-based lubricants. It might cause an allergy to your partner.

  7. Use a new condom for each act of sexual intercourse or when you change your type of intercourse (oral, vaginal or anal) during the same episode.

  8. The best time to remove a condom is immediately after the ejaculation when the penis is still erect. When you remove after it has become flaccid, there are chances for spillage.

Contraceptive Pills:

Oral contraceptive pills are taken by women and are known to be 99.9% effective. These pills have a certain amount of estrogen and progesterone hormones in them. It can act by altering the lining of the womb so that the egg from the ovum does not get fertilized.

Regularity of Ovulation

Regular periods are usually associated with regular ovulation, which then happens during the mid-cycle. So, if your menstrual cycles are regular, it is fairly easy to assess the risk of pregnancy by calculating how far or close to the ovulation dates you had intercourse and accordingly the chances would increase or decrease. Normally, in a 28-day cycle, days 12 to 18 are unsafe days and having intercourse during these days carries a high risk.

Pregnancy Symptoms

Even though you may experience various pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, breast tenderness, bloating, increased urge to urinate, food cravings, abdomen cramps, constipation or increased basal body temperature, these are not definite signs of pregnancy. But, it is good to be aware of these changes and consult a gynecologist when in doubt.

Vaginal Bleeding

When you fear to be pregnant, even vaginal bleeding can be a confusing sign. How to differentiate between a normal period and implantation bleed? While the implantation blood will be pinkish or dark brown, the menstrual blood will be a bright red color. Implantation bleed is on and off and lasts for a day or two while the period bleeding normally lasts for four to seven days.

Energy Levels

Another symptom most women complain of early on is an unusual sense of fatigue. It can be so severe you cannot get out of bed, and, even if you manage to do so, it can be so bad you are unable to stay awake.

Mood Swings

The hormones can wreak havoc on your mood during early pregnancy, just like they do during a period. If you find yourself abnormally low or grumpy, it can be an early sign. You can expect to notice this symptom two to three weeks after possible conception.

Pregnancy Test

Markers of pregnancy are detectable in the blood and urine early on in the pregnancy. Though the home pregnancy test using a urine sample is quick and convenient, with the serum beta-hCG test there are fewer chances of getting a false result. So, when to test? A urine pregnancy test can be done a week after the expected date of periods and the beta hCG test is best done one to two weeks after you have had sex for a more reliable result.

If you are still uncertain of your risk, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with your specialist doctor at the earliest, to rule out the exact cause of delay in your period. He/she will suggest a few tests which can conclusively rule out pregnancy and put an end to your worrying.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Much Delay Is Normal in Periods?

A delay of two to seven days is normal. The delay can happen in different conditions such as stress, pregnancy, obesity, and change in hormonal levels. A normal menstrual cycle lasts for three days.


What Can Cause Your Period to Be Late?

The causes of delay in periods are pregnancy, menopause, breast-feeding. These are the causes of natural delay in periods. Lifestyle changes such as a change in food patterns and climatic changes can cause your periods to delay. Stress has also known to be the cause. Some conditions, like polycystic ovary syndrome, can also be the reason.


Is It Normal to Miss a Period for a Month?

If you have just reached puberty, it is normal for you to miss a period for a month. It takes time for your menstruation to become normal. But in people who are more than 20 years of age, it is not normal to miss your periods. You should consult your doctor and find out the reason for the delay.


Why Did I Miss My Period If I am Not Pregnant?

Sudden and extreme weight loss, hormonal imbalance, stress at the workplace might be the reasons. If you generally have regular periods, you should talk to your doctor about your menstrual cycle to detect any other health conditions.


Is White Discharge a Sign of the Arrival of Periods?

White discharge before a period is a normal part of the menstrual cycle. The normal discharge during this stage of a cycle is called egg white mucus. This discharge is of thin texture. This discharge is usually odorless.


How Many Days Should I Wait to Confirm My Pregnancy?

You should wait until you miss your periods to confirm your pregnancy. If you are pregnant, provide adequate time for your body to develop higher levels of HCG hormone, so that it can be easily detected in pregnancy kits. You can test your pregnancy one week after you miss your periods.


What to Eat If Periods Are Not Coming?

During irregular periods, here are some home remedies you can try to get your periods:
- Turmeric. Try adding turmeric to milk and drinking it.
- Cumin.
- Unripe papaya.
- Practice yoga and meditation.
- Cinnamon.
- Ginger juice added to water.
- Aloe vera juice.


How Soon Do Pregnancy Symptoms Begin?

The early signs of pregnancy can be seen in 22 days from your last periods. The signs are tenderness in nipples, nausea, backache, headache, and cramps in the abdomen. However, you can have confirmation only after you miss your periods.


How Can I Get Periods Immediately With Pcos?

Home remedies for PCOS are:
- Practice yoga. Ask your therapist to suggest a few specific yoga poses for PCOS.
- Eat pineapple.
- Maintain a healthy weight. A normal BMI can help you maintain regular periods.
- Exercise regularly. Butterfly exercise can increase the blood flow to your uterus.
- Add some cinnamon in your food.
- Drink apple cider vinegar daily.


What Are Uncommon Signs of Pregnancy?

Some uncommon signs of pregnancy are:
- Over-heating of the body.
- White discharge.
- Dizziness.
- Headaches.
- Abdominal cramping.
- Frequent urination.
- Implantation bleeding.
- Constipation.
- Colds and flu.
Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Veena Madhan Kumar
Dr. Veena Madhan Kumar

Obstetrics and Gynecology


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