Unprotected Sex and a Late Period

A woman can get pregnant at any time if she is not using a reliable method of birth control. She can also become pregnant if she has unprotected sex during the 5 days before the surge of LH that usually causes ovulation.

However, if she has protected sex and her period is late, she can be reassured that she is not pregnant. Period delays and missed periods are normal for most women.

1. Stress

Stress can affect your menstrual cycle and may delay your period. It is a good idea to try and manage your stress levels by speaking with a counselor or healthcare professional. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, celiac disease and Lyme disease also can contribute to late periods.

Women who have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) often have irregular periods. This is because there is an imbalance of hormones that interferes with the ovulation process. PCOS is a condition that can be diagnosed with a blood test.

A missed or delayed period can be a sign that you are pregnant, even if you were using a hormonal birth control method. Getting a pregnancy test is the best way to know for sure.

Pregnancy tests detect a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine or blood. The hCG level in your body needs to be high to detect a positive result on a pregnancy test. Pregnancy can also be detected through an ultrasound exam. If you are worried about being pregnant, please speak with your doctor or a nurse.

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2. Hormonal birth control

Depending on your age and where you live, many sexual health clinics offer some forms of birth control for free. Many women use the pill, which prevents pregnancy by releasing hormones that stop your ovaries from releasing eggs and thickening your cervical mucus to block sperm. The pill can be 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy, but it doesn’t protect you from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It’s best to double up with another method that will.

Some hormonal birth control methods can delay your period or even cause you to miss your period altogether. This can be normal and nothing to worry about, or it can be a sign that you may be pregnant.

Tracking your menstrual cycle for a few months can help you understand how your body’s cycles work and when it is fertile. Stress, traveling, and other factors can also affect your cycle. If you notice only spotting or no period at all, talk to your doctor about whether you should get a pregnancy test. A missed period is also a good time to consider switching from one form of birth control to another, such as from the pill to the NuvaRing (eluryng). You can find information about other options in our Birth Control Explorer.

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3. Condoms

Condoms, when used correctly, help prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). But even if you use condoms every time you have sex, there is still a small chance of getting pregnant. This can happen if a condom breaks or you miss a dose of your birth control.

Male and female condoms are available at most drugstores without a prescription. A male condom blocks sperm from entering the vagina, and a female condom protects against STIs. Both types of condoms have a lubricant that helps them slide on and off easily. But don’t use oil-based lubricants, as they can decrease the effectiveness of latex and polyurethane condoms. Water and silicone lubricants, which you can buy at most pharmacies or sexual health clinics, are safe to use with all kinds of condoms.

If a condom breaks, sperm may enter the vagina or mouth, which can lead to a miscarriage or an STI. If this happens, you should use emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy and get a pregnancy test as soon as possible. You should also see your doctor if you suspect an STI or think you might be infected with HIV.

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5. Stress management

Stress management is important because, if you are under significant and prolonged stress, it can disrupt your menstrual cycle. Missing periods is a very common problem in 14-25% of women during their reproductive years. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are pregnant, but it can be a sign of other things like hormonal imbalances or autoimmune issues (like celiac disease or Lyme disease). A missed period could also be a sign of an undiagnosed health issue. Talk to a doctor or therapist about ways to manage your stress levels.

Pregnancy tests check for a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin in your blood or urine. It takes about a week for the hormone to reach the level that can be detected by a pregnancy test.

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