Aunt Vadge: we had safe sex but now my period is late – why?

Dear Aunt Vadge, 

  • My boyfriend and I are sexually active, always using protection (condom). 
  • My period is pretty regular – coming on the 27th every month.
  • This month it is 4 days late and I am starting to get really worried.
  • Is there any possibility I could be pregnant?
  • I’ve had all my regular symptoms of my period – break outs, tender swollen breasts, bloating, lower back pain.
  • But this time there’s just no actual period.

Thank you 🙂
Age: 16
Country/Area: Melbourne, Australia

Dear Worried,

If you have not had any semen near your vagina when you were ovulating, then it is impossible for you to be pregnant.

Your period is an interesting creature, since it is determined only by when you ovulate, which changes. If you have a period tracker, you will see that the number of days in your cycle changes, so the idea that your period ‘always’ comes on the 27th of the month – despite varying numbers of days in each calendar month – can’t be true. Each cycle will be a certain number of days, usually around the same, but ranging in fact from 21 to 35 in a healthy cycle.

The number of days between when you ovulate and when you get your period is always the same (let’s say it’s 14 days, two weeks), but if you are stressed, travelling, or for mysterious reasons we are not party to, you may ovulate late. This then delays your period. So if you ovulated three weeks after your period instead of two weeks after your last period, your next period will be a week late.

This is completely normal. Get a period tracker so you can learn about when you ovulate, because this is the most important part of your cycle – not your period. It’s the only time you can actually get pregnant, so if you know when it is, you can be extra diligent with your birth control.

You can usually tell when you ovulate because your vulva is really sensitive to moisture. What will happen is you’ll have a day or two in between periods where you feel ‘wet’ for no real reason that you can discern, and when you wipe after the toilet (urinating), it will be slippery and require more wiping to feel dry than normal. That’s your fertile cervical fluid blob that signals fertility and ovulation. So, look out for your wet day(s) and that slippery wiping feeling. Record it in your period tracker, and then after a few months, you’ll know exactly how many days your body takes between ovulation and your period, so in future, you will know why your period is late, and if it’s possible for you to be pregnant.

Once you know about this stuff, you can never unlearn it, and it’s the key to your fertile body. Knowing when you ovulate is the best!

Let me know if you need any more help with this – it’s important to understand it properly so you can take advantage of the information your body is providing you.

Additionally, your body adjusts itself all the time, and sometimes you’ll get unusual periods – late, early, really painful, weird bits, crazy PMS. Keep writing it in your period tracker, because it’s useful information about your body. Thinking you are pregnant means that every little creak your body has makes you feel like FOR SURE you are pregnant, but actually it makes those noises all the time, you just don’t notice.

You’re almost certainly not pregnant, but if you really want to know, buy a test, since if you are getting your period, you will be able to test accurately if you are pregnant or not.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge