It’s very frightening when your period is late, and you think you might be unexpectedly pregnant. Fear quickly morphs into confusion when you take a pregnancy test, and the result is negative — but still no period. Now what?

Read on and learn more about why you could have a negative pregnancy test but miss your period. We’ll also discuss causes for a false-negative pregnancy test and reasons other than pregnancy that may cause your period to be late.

Lastly, we’ll suggest what steps to take next when your pregnancy test is negative, and you still don’t see your period.

Why Would I Have a Negative Pregnancy Test but No Period?

The most probable explanation for having a negative pregnancy test and no period is that you aren’t pregnant, and something else is delaying your period. We’ll discuss this possibility in the next section.

It’s also possible that you got a false negative pregnancy test result. There are several reasons this can happen, which include [1]:

  • You are pregnant, but the pregnancy test can’t detect the pregnancy hormones because the levels are too low or very high.
  • You are pregnant, but a medical issue is causing a negative pregnancy test.
  • You are pregnant, but the pregnancy test is defective.

How Can I Have a Negative Pregnancy Test and Still Be Pregnant?

Here we’ll discuss possible reasons you can precisely follow pregnancy test directions, get a negative test, and still be pregnant.

1. The pregnancy test can’t detect pregnancy hormones because the levels are too low (or very high).

It takes at least ten days after conception for your body to produce enough of the human chorionic gonadotropin pregnancy hormone (hCG) for a home pregnancy test to detect [2].

There are several reasons hCG levels can be too low to register a positive result, and they include:

  • You tested too early

Even if you’ve already missed your period, you can get a false-negative result. It’s not common, but it could happen if ovulation occurred later in your cycle than usual.

For example, you usually ovulate on day fourteen of your cycle. But this month, you were under a lot of stress and ovulated on day twenty instead. So, if you became pregnant, it would have happened about six days later in your cycle than usual, which means you won’t get a positive pregnancy test until six days later.

If you get a negative result and suspect you’re pregnant, try testing again in a few days if you still don’t get your period.

  • Your urine was diluted

You can also get a false-negative result if your urine is too diluted when you take your pregnancy test. For this reason, it’s best to use first-morning urine or test after you haven’t had any fluids to drink for about six hours.

A rare phenomenon called the “hook effect” can also lead to a false-negative pregnancy test result [3]. A hook effect occurs when hCG levels are so high that the pregnancy test can’t read it.

Situations that could cause a false-negative pregnancy test due to a hook effect include:

  • Being pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets, etc.)
  • Rare medical conditions such as a molar pregnancy

2. A pregnancy-related medical issue is causing a negative pregnancy test.

  • Ectopic pregnancy is when the pregnancy is located outside of the uterus — often in one of the fallopian tubes. An ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical care.

3. The pregnancy test is defective.

An expired or defective pregnancy test can also cause a false-negative result. Always be sure the control line is present when you read the results window. If you don’t see it, take a follow-up test.

Reasons You Might Miss a Period Other Than Pregnancy

As we stated earlier, the most probable reason your pregnancy test was negative is that you aren’t pregnant. But if you aren’t pregnant, you wonder why your period is late. Here are possible reasons:

  • Breastfeeding
  • Hormonal birth control
  • Illness
  • Medications or medical problems
  • Perimenopause
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Poor sleep
  • Stress
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Too much exercise
  • Travel
  • Weight changes

I Have a Negative Pregnancy Test but No Period – Now What?

So, what should your next steps be if you have a negative pregnancy test but no period? Late or missing periods signal that your body needs attention.

Your first step is to repeat the pregnancy test then reach out to your healthcare provider to determine when they prefer to see you.

Seek medical attention immediately from a medical professional or emergency room if you have any of the following symptoms because they could indicate a severe medical problem:

  • Severe pain on one side of your abdomen or pelvic area
  • Pain in one shoulder
  • Vaginal bleeding that isn’t a period
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting

Pregnancy Care Center Offers Compassion and Answers

You don’t have to continue worrying about what’s happening with your body. Pregnancy Care Clinic offers no-cost services to help you get the answers you deserve.

We can save you money by providing you with a medical-grade pregnancy test. If your test is negative, we are happy to repeat it for you. However, if your next pregnancy test is also negative with no period — or if you have signs indicating a medical issue, we will recommend additional follow-up.

If your pregnancy test is positive, we can walk with you step-by-step, so you are empowered to make an informed pregnancy decision. This may include a limited ultrasound, education, and information about your options for an unexpected pregnancy.

Our licensed healthcare providers at Pregnancy Care Clinic are compassionate and skilled. You can visit us with confidence, knowing that you will never be judged here. So contact us for your confidential appointment today.

Resources:

[1] Mayo Clinic Staff. (2021, February 24). Home pregnancy tests: Can you trust the results? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/home-pregnancy-tests/art-20047940.

[2] Cleveland Clinic Staff. (2021, January 26). Pregnancy tests. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9703-pregnancy-tests.

[3] Winder, A. D., Mora, A. S., Berry, E., & Lurain, J. R. (2017). The “hook effect” causing a negative pregnancy test in a patient with an advanced molar pregnancy. Gynecologic oncology reports, 21, 34–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gore.2017.06.008