I'm afraid I'm pregnant, but maybe I'm just crazy.
July 20, 2006 6:47 AM   Subscribe

Could a moderate diet and a lot of stress account for my missed period?

I should have gotten my period on Sunday. I've been extremely regular since I went on the pill four years ago. But twice in the last month I didn't take the pill at the right time, and then this. So I was worried.
I took a pregnancy test Monday and another today. Both were clear negatives. But my breasts are swollen, I'm feeling nauseous and bloated, and these symptoms have never happened to me all at the same time before.

I've been working out a lot lately -- doing cardio and weights three days a week for about 2 hours each time at the gym, and going hiking every weekend. And I've been dieting.

According to the calorie tracker I use, I've been eating about 1480 calories of food every day, and I've been burning about 270 calories every day, on average. That leaves out about three hours of weightlifting per week.

I am going to call the doctor and see if she can fit me in on Thursday or Friday of next week, when I already have time off. For my bachelorette party. I have just started a new job, and all of my sick leave and paid time off for the next few months are going toward my wedding a week from Saturday and my honeymoon the following week.

I plan to eat badly, drink a lot, smoke a lot in the lead up to the wedding.

So I'm trying to figure out if stress, exercise and diet are a likely explanation for my missed period, despite the other symptoms of pregnancy. Should I chill out? Should I approach this with more urgency?

If I am pregnant, I will get an abortion. Which totally freaks me out, even though it's what I want. I don't know if I should be thinking about this now or what I should do if this is the case. I've never made this kind of doctor's appointment before and I don't even know if I should take my own neurotic ramblings seriously.

Any advice on how to approach my situation until I hear more from the doctor?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
Of course you need to see a doctor. However, being on a low calorie diet, stress and/or exercise could all make your period late or even make you skip it. In fact, the approach of your period could account for the breast tenderness and the stress could account for the nausea, as could a new diet.

So, chill out. Cut up some ginger and steep it in hot water and add some honey for some special "bring my period on" tea. You can't do anything about anything until you get a definitive answer from your doc. From the sounds of your post, you're a bit dithery about this, which makes the stress diagnosis even more likely. Congrats on your upcoming wedding and new job.
posted by jessamyn at 6:56 AM on July 20, 2006

If you took the two tests you're probably fine. From what I understand, you can get a false positive, but you can't get a false negative because the tests are looking for a specific hormone. A lot of stress can account for it, fyi. Go to the doc if it makes you feel better and you can keep taking the tests if you want, but it sounds like you're okay.

It may be worth your while to take an afternoon off work before your scheduled time off since the doc will probably be able to fit you in before next week. An hour or two of sick time used is well worth the peace of mind that you'll have, even if you have to take an hour or two on unpaid leave during your honeymoon, etc.
posted by ml98tu at 7:03 AM on July 20, 2006

Stress of a new job, upcoming wedding and a change of diet and excercise will definately throw your cycle off whack. Go ahead and see your doctor for peace of mind.
Conratulations and best wishes!
posted by illek at 7:06 AM on July 20, 2006

My sister didn't get her period for several months before her wedding, solely because of stress. The fact that she hadn't had sex was undeniable (she was a True Love Waits type).

I'd agree that it's absolutely stress/circumstance related, but a doctor's visit certainly wouldn't hurt, if only so you're not worried about anything but having a good time on your honeymoon.

posted by timetoevolve at 7:11 AM on July 20, 2006

ml98tu: You can get a false negative if there isn't enough of the hormone in the urine yet. Normally, 5 days after a missed period (I think 7 days is the general rule, that is, at least 10-14 days after the possible point of conception (in general) (see here and here)) is long enough to nearly always show positive if you're pregnant, but it may not be.

But the general advice everyone is giving is right: It's easy for your body to try to fool you. And once you started thinking you were pregnant, it probably did so even more. Possibly causing the other symptoms.
posted by skynxnex at 7:15 AM on July 20, 2006

Stress can make you skip a period, but also if you're on the pill for a long time (like four years, as you are) it's not unheard of to skip a period. I think that two negative pregnancy tests show that you're not pregnant.

Go see the doc, just so you can relax, and then enjoy your wedding. Congrats!
posted by christinetheslp at 7:17 AM on July 20, 2006

From what you describe, there are many explanations for the missed period: diet alteration, change in exercise routine, stress, missing a few birth control pills, and so on.

The description of your condition also somewhat matches an iron deficiency (change in diet and exercise, especially, can cause this, and a missed period can be a symptom), particularly if you've also been feeling a bit more tired than usual lately. Are you taking appropriate vitamins? If you're not taking any vitamins, consider adding a multivitamin to your daily routine, as a controlled diet can sometimes result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

If the pregnancy tests are appearing negative (modern tests are extremely accurate), I wouldn't worry about being pregnant. It is much more likely that you have a vitamin or mineral imbalance, or a slight hormonal imbalance due to the irregular use of the pill.
posted by krark at 7:24 AM on July 20, 2006

It's probably stress.

Ms.Tacos skips due to stress at far lower levels than a wedding. Lots of people do.

Enjoy your wedding!
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 7:29 AM on July 20, 2006

I once skipped my period due to stress when I was 15 and still a virgin. It can happen.
posted by stoneegg21 at 7:39 AM on July 20, 2006

Have you gotten a blood test?

And has it occurred to you that perhaps your intended has a right to know of your plans if this does turn out to be a pregnancy?

It is very true that your mind can and does play tricks with your body, and that stress can and does do this, even up to the breast tenderness...but if your boobs are getting bigger there might be something to this. But perhaps those skipped pills simply affected your hormone levels.
posted by konolia at 9:24 AM on July 20, 2006

When I have skipped a couple of pills, it has screwed up my period majorly. Sometimes I will just get spotting for that period cycle, other times it comes almost a full week late.

But my breasts are swollen, I'm feeling nauseous and bloated, and these symptoms have never happened to me all at the same time before.

This also happened to me during my weird periods caused by inconsistencies with taking the pill. I had been convinced that I was pregnant, but all my panic & worry was for nothing.

I also suggest going to see your doctor, just to give yourself some peace of mind. You deserve it what with having so many other things to stress about! But I have to say that I do think it's unlikely that you're pregnant.
posted by tastybrains at 9:43 AM on July 20, 2006

I can't tell you whether or not your are pregnant, but for the future usefulness of this thread, I would like to point something out.

Assuming you are on combination pills, not taking the pills "at the right time" can mean a lot of things. As most of us on the pill know, it works the best when taken at exactly the same time every day, and the further from that time you take it, the worse. But, taking it an hour late, and hour early, or even several hours from the point you are supposed to won't necessarily make you ovulate. If you are saying you completely skipped the pills, or took them the next morning when you were supposed to take them the previous night, then maybe. But from your phrasing, I am imagining you forgetting for an hour or two, freaking out, taking them immediately, and continuing on your normal schedule. If this is the case, you more than likely don't need to worry.

[See this link, this link, and this link for more information on taking combination birth control pills only a couple of hours late.]

If you are taking the mini-pill, or progestin-only pill, however, most sources, including Planned Parenthood seem to agree that taking one pill three or more hours late necessitates a back-up method.

Sadly, you are anon, so you can't tell us which you are on. Personally, I wouldn't think anything about your body would be normal with all the stress and changes you are going through, so I think you'll be fine.
posted by starbaby at 9:55 AM on July 20, 2006

You haven't skipped you period yet. So far, it's just late. Swollen boobs and bloating for me always means PMS, usually a week before the show actually starts. Go see the doctor, but don't fret to hard in the meantime.
posted by Sara Anne at 10:37 AM on July 20, 2006

I agree with the others -- it sounds like stress. What pill are you on? Did you miss it two days in a row or two separate days, or did you just take it late? From what I understand, progestin-only pills are the ones that you have to worry about taking exactly on time. Combined pills (progestin and estrogen) are much hardier and don't require you to take it at exactly the same time every day. (Note: I am not saying that anyone should take the pill just whenever the mood strikes them, only that it is not the end of the world if you forget for a few hours.)

Plus, on top of that, you have negative tests. If you want to take a test again, wait about a week, and make sure you test with your first pee of the day, as that is when the hormones are most concentrated.

Good luck!
posted by sugarfish at 11:18 AM on July 20, 2006

The stress, the diet and especially the exercise all individually could cause a delayed period....combined they certainly could. Go to your Dr and put your mind at rest. It's my bet you will get your period before then anyway, but still go.

The advice to talk to your fiance about pregnancy would hold even if you weren't getting married....it isn't just you, in spite of what you've heard. The fact you are getting married makes it even more important to remember you aren't the only one such things concern anymore. It's part of the marriage mindset.
posted by mattfn at 11:22 AM on July 20, 2006

Data point: I've skipped a period on the pill before -- it doesn't have to be stress or diet or anything at all, it just happens sometimes. FWIW -- it's incredibly unlikely that you're pregnant unless you missed two consecutive pills.
posted by robinpME at 11:28 AM on July 20, 2006

I have gotten my period weeks late due to stress. Stressing about the possiblity of being pregnant makes it even worse (and sometimes I get phantom symptoms, like nausea). Try to get a blood test tomorrow, that should be able to tell you right away if you are or not (my guess is that you are not pregnant. Those tests are very accurate). If your doctor can't squeeze you in, try planned parenthood or any "family planning" clinic. They are usually able to accomodate walk-ins.

If you want additional advice or want to ramble to someone who has been there, email is in the profile.

To all who advised her to talk to her finace or told her he has the right to know, etc.: mind your own business and stick to the question asked. She never said (or even implied) that she wasn't going to tell him, or even that he didn't know about the present situation.
posted by necessitas at 3:39 PM on July 20, 2006

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