Does a Missed Period Mean You're Pregnant?

Woman looking at pregnancy test
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When you are expecting your period and it doesn't show up. You worry. The absence of your normal menstrual cycle can be concerning. This can indicate a pregnancy or it may be related to an illness or stress. It is considered one of the major possible signs of pregnancy. Though in your lifetime you may have a missed period for a variety of reasons. It may also simply be delayed and not missed at all.

People have different names for it like a late period, skipping a cycle, missed period. In essence, it simply means that your normal menstrual cycle or period didn't happen when it should have happened. Many women will go through various cycle abnormalities in their life. This is not necessarily a problem but can make trying to get pregnant or diagnose pregnancy more difficult for some.

Reasons for Missed Periods

There are many reasons why you may have missed your period. Some women miss periods regularly because they don't ovulate regularly. You might also miss a period if you have a change in your sleep patterns, for example, you start working night shifts and sometimes that can throw your cycles out of whack and make your period wonky for a bit as your body adjusts to it.

You can also miss your period if your weight is too low. After a certain amount of body fat, you may not have the hormone production to sustain your periods. This is often true if you're a very competitive athlete or suffer from disordered eating like anorexia or even bulimia.

Sometimes stress can be a reason that your period is missing. (Though there is nothing more stress inducing than not having your period when you expect it!) This can usually be determined easily by a discussion with your doctor or midwife.

What to Do If You Miss Your Period

If you miss your period, you should wait at first. Give it a few days to make sure you didn't miscalculate or do something to mix up the dates or that you aren't simply late. Many practitioner at this point, recommend a pregnancy test. You can take a pregnancy test at home or your can go into your doctor or midwife's office. (Though most urine tests are the same.) If it's positive, you have your answer: You missed your period because you were pregnant. If it is negative you may want to wait a bit and try again.

Seeing your doctor or midwife if you are worried is never a bad option. If you are planning to get pregnant soon, you can use the visit to plan your preconceptional health. This is a great way to get your body on track to be pregnant. This helps you have the healthiest pregnancy possible. If you are not ready to be pregnant, they can help you determine what your reproductive life plan may look like to stay healthy and avoid pregnancy until the point where you make a decision to have children or permanently decide to not have children.

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Article Sources

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  • Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. Gabbe, S, Niebyl, J, Simpson, JL. Sixth Edition.