Does a Missed Period Mean You're Pregnant?

Woman looking at pregnancy test
Image Source/Photodisc/Getty Images

When you're expecting your period and it doesn't show you might start to worry. The absence of your normal menstrual cycle can be concerning since it can indicate a pregnancy or it may be related to an illness or stress. It is considered one of the major possible signs of early pregnancy. Throughout your lifetime, however, 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 such as a late period, skipping a cycle, or a 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 due to various factors. This is not necessarily a problem for all women, but can also indicate a larger health concern for some. A missed cycle can also make trying to get pregnant or confirming early pregnancy more difficult for others.

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, or if you start working night shifts which can throw your cycles out of whack as your body learns to adjust 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.

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 practitioners at this point, may recommend a pregnancy test. You can take a pregnancy test at home or your can go into your doctor's office. 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 if you are worried is never a bad option. If you are planning to get pregnant soon, you can use the visit to start your preconception health plan. 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.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kwak Y, Kim Y, Baek KA. Prevalence of irregular menstruation according to socioeconomic status: A population-based nationwide cross-sectional studyPLoS One. 2019;14(3):e0214071. Published 2019 Mar 19. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0214071

  2. Vigil P, Lyon C, Flores B, Rioseco H, Serrano F. Ovulation, a sign of healthLinacre Q. 2017;84(4):343–355. doi:10.1080/00243639.2017.1394053

  3. Hoffman ER, Zerwas SC, Bulik CM. Reproductive issues in anorexia nervosaExpert Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2011;6(4):403–414. doi:10.1586/eog.11.31

  4. American Pregnancy Association. Preconception Health for Women.

Additional Reading