Aunt Vadge: is my girlfriend pregnant or is her period late?

Hi Aunt Vadge, 

I am 13 years old and me and my girlfriend are worried. She hasn’t had her period this month, and at the time of writing this, it is 10 days later then her last menstruation last month. We haven’t had proper sex, however we are worried it may have been a case of precum finding its way into her vagina. If she isn’t pregnant, we would like to know what other causes may have made her miss her period. She is scared to go to a doctor or speak to anyone about it so I have took it upon myself to seek advice or help. We are very worried. 

Sincerely,
Worried

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Dear Worried,

You may be right about the precum, but that is simple to test with a home pregnancy test. If you can find the money to buy one, they are usually very cheap at a pharmacy or supermarket, and you will know for sure if she is pregnant or not. It is possible that she is pregnant from precum, and that is the best reason you have to always always always use a condom when you penis is near her vagina. This stress is not something you or she wants to have every month!

The other reasons she may have a late period or skipped period are many and varied – you can read more about secondary amenorrhoea (which is the fancy medical name for starting periods, but then periods stop arriving for some reason).

Keep in mind that stress, travel and other things can cause a period to be late, since she may have ovulated late. Every month will be a bit different for most girls, so that’s not the strangest thing in the world. Skipping a period when she’s so young is not super unusual – her body is getting used to menstruating and may be all over the place, but if she is normally very regular, then it could be a one-off blip and no cause for concern, or she may indeed be pregnant.

Let me know how you go and if you have any other questions – you have a direct line to me now, so use me anytime!

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge

Dear Aunt Vadge,  

Thank you very much for your reply , early tomorrow morning I am going to get a pregnancy test from our nearest Tescos and use one of them self service checkouts to buy it and walk it over to her house for her , if she is indeed pregnant we will have to seek an abortion , I’ve heard about medical abortions where you only take two pills to induce a miscarriage? Are they free? It’d be with the NHS and we live in England,  again thanks very much for your advice and it may be late becuase of her recent holiday and travelling on planes but it’s best to make sure she isn’t pregnant as early as possible. 

Thank you very much,
Worried

Hi again Worried,

You are right – perhaps travel has caused your girlfriend’s period to be late, because she ovulated late. It happens a lot more often than you would think!

Understanding the menstrual cycle can be a little bit tricky, but you seem like the kind of guy who would be interested in that, which is great. If you guys both understand when your girlfriend is ovulating, you can do your non-condom playing around outside of those times. Your girlfriend should be able to figure out when she is ovulating by using a period tracker app (if she has a smartphone), but more importantly, by understanding the sensations of when she is ovulating in the middle of her cycle.

I’ll explain it here, but you might have to read it a few times to understand it properly. Taking the time to understand this will make you a more compassionate boyfriend, and trust me, understanding this will mean you understand the patterns of behaviour that go with women. (Guys seem to think we are very unpredictable, but actually it’s all a pattern that goes round and round!) So here goes.

The start of a period is always called Day 1 of the Menstrual Cycle. This is just because there needs to be a day to start everything from, even though it’s cyclic, meaning it just goes round and round. Day 1 is where we’ll start.

  • Day 1 – Bleeding starts and continues to usually Day 5 or so.
  • Day 14 – If your girlfriend has a 28-day cycle, on about Day 14, she will ovulate.
  • 14 days later, she will get her period again.

BUT the trick with this is knowing these facts:

  • Each new Day 1 period means a full cycle has been completed
  • Each cycle of each woman is likely to be different. For example, I have cycles that range from 23 days, to once, as long as 33 days. If I look at my period tracker, I see 23 Days, 26 Days, 27 Days, 28 Days, 25 Days, etc.
  • The reason for this is because the Day we Ovulate CHANGES EVERY CYCLE – this is why we need to know exactly when we ovulate by our body’s signals (vaginal fluids change, primarily)
  • The Day of Ovulation could be Day 14, Day 16, Day 19 or sometimes Day 10.
  • The Days between Ovulation and Period ARE ALWAYS THE SAME – and range from 12-16 days but each woman will always be the same number of these days post-ovulation – her own pattern will remain steady.
  • The Days between Day 1 Period and Ovulation ARE OFTEN DIFFERENT, as you and your girlfriend are experiencing – perhaps she ovulated late, which means she still has to wait the 12-16 days (whatever her individual steady number is) for her period to come.

Hopefully that makes sense – it’s a bit of a hard one to wrap your head around, but it’s a really important piece of information.

Your girlfriend and you can try to see when she is ovulating – it’s really fun to try, and she will be more sexually responsive during ovulation, because her body is gearing up for her to get pregnant. That means she’ll be more sexually excitable than many other times of her cycle. (A good time for a hot date!) She will be able to tell because for one day of the month, typically around the middle between periods, she will feel ‘wet’ for no real reason. This is because her cervix has squirted out a little blob of what’s known as fertile cervical fluid, which is special, extra-slippery fluid that eventually leaks out of her vagina. Her inner labia are VERY sensitive to moisture, so she’ll be able to feel this, especially when she goes to the toilet and wipes with toilet paper – it will wipe and wipe and wipe a bit longer than usual, with slimy clear stuff. She’ll know when it happens if you let her read this/tell her, so she knows to look out for it.

It feels like stringy egg-white sort of thing. This is the time when your girlfriend can definitely get pregnant, but a few days before and a few days after as well, since your sperm can survive in her vagina for a miraculous five days sometimes. That means you need to be careful for the 10 days around her ovulation, but she needs to know if she is definitely ovulating – if you had been using that system of guessing this time around, she may have ovulated late and she could have gotten pregnant. So she needs to know her own body very well so she understands when she is able to get pregnant.

In terms of the abortion, yes you can get medical abortions whereby she will be given pills by the doctor, and she will go home and a miscarriage will be induced. An abortion can feel like a big deal, but remember it’s just the interruption of a life process, removing the little cells that would make a baby later, it’s not killing a baby! There can be a lot of guilt around abortions, but they are a wonderful thing for women and men who are not ready to have a baby. Nobody should be having a baby they are not ready for, and abortions are so safe and a very simple procedure. Medical abortions are just like a heavy, painful period, and then it’s over and done with.

I’m not sure what the laws are regarding parental consent and abortions in England, so my best advice would be to make an appointment with your girlfriend’s doctor, and go in together to talk it over. Your doctor will know the answer to your questions. I’m also not sure if they are free in England, but you guys have an excellent healthcare system, so I’m sure the doctor can refer you to free abortion services – I’m sure they exist. All good healthcare systems provide free abortions to those who cannot afford it.

If the doctor is not helpful, go to another doctor. There are plenty of supportive doctors around. Also, if you have parents who may possibly understand (and not flip out!), or a family friend you can trust to keep a secret, it can be helpful to have someone help if necessary, like driving you to appointments or finding out about the cost of abortions. Navigating the healthcare system can be a bit of a nightmare sometimes.

At this stage you guys need to learn how to use condoms very diligently, but I would not necessarily suggest that your girlfriend gets on hormonal birth control, as she is very young and hormones are horrible for a body and mind of any age. If she can avoid going on birth control by being diligent with your condom use and understanding her cycle, that is the good outcome for now – keeping a natural cycle means your girlfriend will know her body really well, and know when something is going wrong later on. Birth control that uses hormones actually stops her from ovulating, and while that’s great for not getting pregnant, a woman’s body needs those hormones produced in her cycle to keep her body and mind healthy. Just bear that in mind when discussing your birth control options.

Let me know if you need anything more.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge

Hello Aunt Vadge,  

Thank you again for your reply.  

She took a pregnancy test today and it came back negative, which is good news, but now we just need to find out why she’s missed it. I think we’re gonna book her an appointment with her GP.  I read up on abortions and in Britain you don’t need parental consent, if you are aged 13-16 you have the same rights to confidentiality as an adult, so they aren’t allowed to say anything to your parents, and plus abortions don’t go on your medical record . Thanks very much for explaining the menstrual cycle, I think I will read over it a few more times when I’m bored or not doing anything. You have helped a lot with your information. 

Thanks very much,
Worried

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That’s good news!

You can probably just wait and see – there is no need to panic about a late period. Your doctor will most likely send you home, so it might pay to wait for one more month and if nothing happens then, then maybe think about seeing the doctor. Understanding the menstrual cycle (as per my email) is important for understanding why a period might be late – you can see the link on secondary amenorrhoea I sent in a previous email.

Thanks for the information regarding Britain’s abortion laws. That’s great to know.

Good luck to you guys!
Aunt Vadge