In this article, we explain how the menstrual cycle works and provide some possible causes of a missed period other than pregnancy. We also cover how to make a home pregnancy test as accurate as possible and when to see a doctor.
Can you miss a period without being pregnant?
The ovaries release an egg in a process called ovulation, which occurs approximately every 28 days. If no sperm fertilizes the egg, a person’s period will usually start about 14 days later.
While a missed period is one of the first signs of pregnancy, there are a variety of other reasons why it can occur.
If a person does not menstruate for 3 months in a row, this is called amenorrhea. This condition affects 3–4 percent of women.
Home pregnancy tests can sometimes give a false negative result, indicating that someone is not pregnant when they are.
The accuracy of a home pregnancy test varies depending on how and when a person takes it. Some of the reasons a test may give a false negative result include:
Taking a test too soon: Home pregnancy tests look for the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in urine. Although some tests can detect hCG from the first day of a missed period, they are generally more accurate later on.
Low hormones: Tests are usually more precise first thing in the morning because the urine is less diluted at this time and this makes hCG easier to detect.
When to see a doctor
People who miss more than three periods in a row and have a negative pregnancy test result should see a doctor.
A person may miss a period as a result of several causes, including specific medical conditions, so it is essential to get a proper diagnosis.
To ensure that a home pregnancy test is accurate, people should follow the instructions on the packaging and wait until at least a week after the first day of the missed period before taking the test.
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