Aunt Vadge: Am I pregnant?

Dear Aunt Vadge,

I was supposed to get my period three days ago. I have been engaging in sex and my partner has been using condoms every single time. Usually two weeks before my period my breasts start to hurt, and during the week that I get my period, they hurt, however this month and up to this day they don’t hurt, no soreness.

Is this normal for period symptoms to change?

I had sex two weeks and a week before I got my period. I was supposed to get it around the 27th of June, and I took an at-home pregnancy test the week I was supposed to get my period, and then on June 30, and it was negative. Should I wait a couple of days and retake another one?

Also if my period has not come, why do I still feel my regular cramps in my legs, thighs, and in my vagina? My back and lower back has been hurting, and I’ve been having my cravings for sweets. I have been stressed quite lately because my period has not come and I have been stressed because of school. Sometimes I feel like my period will come but there is nothing.

I am trying not to freak out.

Freaking Out

Hi Freaking Out,

The hellish “am I pregnant?” wait is a bad one – you have my sympathies.

The simple fact is that if your partner wore a condom every single time, and no semen escaped the condom and it didn’t break or fall off, you are not pregnant, because it would be impossible! Condoms are pretty effective, and the reason they fail is simply through breakages or slips – not because they ‘don’t work’ for some mysterious reason.
They work.

If the condom was used properly, was not expired or damaged, and prevented semen from entering your vagina completely, it is impossible for you to be pregnant. 

So where is your period?

What is more likely to be happening is that your ovulation was delayed because you are stressed about school, or other things going on in your life. You can ovulate late for many reasons, some of which will remain mysterious for all of time.

How this works is that the time between when you ovulate and when you get your period (Day 1 of your cycle is the day you get your period) is always the same for you (between 12 and 16 days).

What changes all the time is the number of days between Day 1 of your cycle (the first day of your period) and the day you ovulate. It can be quite long, which extends your cycle ‘mysteriously’ and your period will be late as a result – since the days between ovulation and the next Day 1 (period) is always the same.

Your body may delay ovulation for many reasons, including stress or travel. It’s your body’s way of saying “don’t get pregnant right now, it’s not a good time”. It doesn’t always work like this of course – people still get pregnant in war zones, for example – but it is more likely that your body has simply extended your menstrual cycle by ovulating later than normal. It is completely normal for women to have unusual periods or menstrual cycles from time to time.

If you are sure the condom was used properly, then I would stop worrying and enjoy a couple more period-free days! I know that is easier said than done, but a pregnancy test at the time your period was due (and a few days after) would normally come up with the truth – pregnancy tests are pretty sensitive these days, and if you were pregnant, the hormones the test looks for would be present.

I would also consider some methods to relax a bit and bring down your adrenalin and cortisol (stress hormone) levels – these hormones are affecting your body and making you more anxious than you need to be. Adrenaline’s job is to make you freak out like you are in an emergency, so learning how to lower the levels of stress hormones in your body is a really useful life management skill that we could all do with a bit more.

This might mean doing some mindfulness techniques (try the HeadSpace app for 10 minutes per day as a starter – they teach you everything you need to know, it’s free, and it works straight away). Take a walk. Get a massage. Give yourself a break from freaking out – the world won’t fall down if you are not stressed about it, and you can only do what you can do.

You will be ok.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge