Am I pregnant or just missing a period because of stress?


Q: Hi my name is Savanna and my period is, as of today, 9 days late and I normally have a very regular period sometimes late but 1-2 days at the most. I am 18 years old and I have had a period every month, each lasting 5-7 days, since I was in the fifth grade. I do not have any discharge at all like I normally do. I have slight cramps throughout the day that resemble a less intense form of my menstrual cramps. I have taken 3 pregnancy tests (2 yesterday - 1 today with morning urine) and they all came back negative. My breasts aren't sore and I don't feel bloated or nauseous. I am moving into my first apartment on the 21 and I start my first year of college of the 25 and I have read that stress can cause a person to have a late period or even miss it completely. However, I feel like I have been more stressed in the past than I have been lately and none of my past periods were effected by it. I am curious to know if I could be getting false negatives and if so then when should I test again? If that is not the case, then I would like to know why I still have yet to get my period?

Symptoms:  Lower abdominal cramps that are a mild form of menstrual cramps

A:   Delayed menses can be caused by a variety of reasons other than pregnancy. You are absolutely correct in stating that stress may have a major role to play in your case.
Stress, lack of sleep, weight fluctuations etc. are all factors that can lead to longer than normal cycles. Hormonal imbalances, weight fluctuations, thyroid illness, polycystic ovaries etc. are also other causes of delayed menses.I don't think in your case the reason for the delayed periods could be pregnancy especially as your pregnancy tests have all tested negative.
I would advise that you wait for atleast 2 - 3 weeks for the onset of your periods. As longer than normal cycles are part of the variations in ones cycle lengths that every woman undergoes with age, you could just start your periods a little late this month. If the absence of periods i.e amenorhea persists after 3 weeks then it would be okay to consult with a gynecologist or family physician regarding the same.
The doctor will examine you and will probably advise certain hormonal evaluations, ultrasound examinations to determine the cause of delayed periods. The treatment of the same would largely depend on the underlying cause but would also involve hormonal treatment with progesterogen containing pills that will help to induce a withdrawal bleed.
Most of the times such delayed cycles are just the body's reaction to our stressful lives and generally the cycles regularize with time. Persistently irregular cycles (longer than 6 months ) however definitely warrant a medical opinion.

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