Women's Health

Delayed Periods: When to Suspect Pregnancy?

Written by
Dr. Vasantha K S
and medically reviewed by Dr. Veena Madhankumar

Published on Nov 23, 2017 and last reviewed on Sep 07, 2018   -  5 min read

Abstract

Abstract

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.

Delayed Periods: When to Suspect Pregnancy?

Being sexually active comes 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 many 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.

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 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 times.

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, day 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 period 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 a 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.

For more information consult an obstetrician and gynaecologist online --> https://icliniq.com./ask-a-doctor-online/obstetrician-and-gynaecologist

Last reviewed at:
07 Sep 2018  -  5 min read

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Related Questions & Answers


Pregnancy tests are negative, but am still having pregnancy symptoms. Why?

Query: Hi doctor, I am a 27 year old female, who started taking birth control pills eight months back, but I only took it for a week and stopped taking them. In that same week, I had unprotected sex with my fiance, and I had my periods the next day. The next month I got my periods two weeks earlier, and I ...  Read Full »


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Answer: Hi, Welcome to icliniq.com. I understand your concern. I see two problems in your history. Let me tell you the reason and solution. Birth control pills come in a pack of 21 or 21 active plus seven dummy pills, or the single dose of an emergency contraceptive pill. Whichever you take, will suppres...  Read Full »

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Dr. Vidya
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Answer: Hello, Welcome to icliniq.com. There are two possibilities here. One is a chemical pregnancy, where only the pregnancy test result come positive, and there is no evidence of sac on ultrasound. Second being a healthy pregnancy is a delayed conception or an ectopic. I suggest you do a serum beta hCG b...  Read Full »

I had sex with my partner last month and missed periods. Am I pregnant?

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Answer: Hello, Welcome to icliniq.com. If the urine pregnancy test was done after eight days post missed menses was negative then you are not pregnant. However, to be double sure, you may opt for a serum beta hCG test, where if the hCG levels are less than 3 mIU, then you can be sure that you are not pre...  Read Full »

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