Chances are, if you have periods, you’ve probably had the stomach-dropping realization that your period is late, along with a whole range of emotions, from fear to anxiety to uncertainty to excitement! Don’t worry though — carafem has your back.
Am I pregnant or am I overthinking?
We’ve compiled this guide to help you figure out if your period is just late or if you might actually be pregnant, including signs you might not be pregnant (whew). And if you are pregnant and don’t want to be, as a provider of compassionate abortion care, carafem has got you covered there too. The earlier you know you’re pregnant, the earlier you can consider your options and receive the high-quality care you deserve — whether that’s abortion care or care for continuing your pregnancy.
Step 1: When did your last period start?
First off, it’s important to identify when your last menstrual period started. Everybody approaches their period differently — some people are methodical trackers so they know exactly when to expect their period, and other folks just get their period when they get it and it’s a bit of a surprise each time. Regardless of whether you’re best friends with your period-tracking app or not, there are a few ways to know whether you might be pregnant.
Tricks to help remember your last period.
If you track your menstrual cycle, great! This step should be easy. If not, try and remember if there were any events or special occasions around when you last had your period. Was it around a holiday or a special event where you remember not wanting to wear white pants? Or maybe you texted your partner asking them to pick up pads, tampons, or some ice cream from the store. While knowing the exact date your last period started is the most helpful info, estimating a date that is close can help you recognize when something might be wrong.
Find a period tracking app with data privacy.
If you don’t already track your periods, this might be a good time to start. As states increase abortion restrictions, the earlier you know you’re pregnant, the more abortion options you may have. You can track your period on your calendar at home or by using an app. If you are tracking your period online, we recommend using caution with what apps or websites you use, especially if you live in a state where abortion is criminalized. Check out this article for period tracking apps, ranked by data privacy.
Step 2: When should you expect your next period?
Once you’ve narrowed down when your last period began, you can figure out when you should expect your next period. Most people have about a 28-day menstrual cycle, so your next period should start approximately 28 days after your last one began. If you should already have your period by now, try not to worry just yet!
Common reasons for a late period.
There are plenty of reasons that your period might be late that absolutely do not include pregnancy. Stress, fluctuating weight, change in exercise, and even some forms of contraception can all cause your period to be late without meaning that you’re pregnant. If you’ve been through any of these changes but know you have had sexual contact that could have put you at risk for pregnancy, it’s probably wise to still move to the next step. Being anxious about a late period can be really stressful. Taking a test when you are concerned is one of the best ways to either get answers and relax, or to begin to gather more information to make a plan.
Step 3: Take a pregnancy test
How soon can you find out if you are pregnant?
We recommend taking a pregnancy test as soon as it makes sense. Many home pregnancy tests can determine if you are pregnant as early as 10 –14 days after unprotected sex. A urine pregnancy test performed 21 days or more after having unprotected sex should provide definitive results.
Are expensive pregnancy tests better?
Some people like to test more often for peace of mind, others delay taking pregnancy tests if they find it stressful. It helps to know your cycle so you recognize when your period might be late and any dates you had sex, especially if it was sex without reliable contraception. This can help you time your pregnancy testing for when it is most beneficial. Want a pro tip? Just about all pregnancy tests are the same, so whether you’re getting your test from a dollar store, a high-end pharmacy, or your doctor’s office, you should receive the same result.
Step 4: Negative test
If your result is negative, and it’s been more than 21 days since you’ve had sex, you can sit back and wait for your period! We still recommend repeating a pregnancy test if no period comes, if you are uncertain about the dates you had sex, or if you are uncertain if your sexual contact was protected. Sometimes light spotting can be seen within the first few weeks of a pregnancy, so if your period comes, but isn’t normal, another pregnancy test is a good idea.
Step 5: Positive test and your pregnancy options
But what about if your pregnancy test is positive? If you’re unsure of what your options are or if you don’t know if you want to proceed with an abortion or not, check out this free pregnancy options workbook, which has exercises designed to help you think through all your options and help you decide what is best for you.
Additionally, All Options is an organization that has a talk-line where you can speak directly with non-judgmental support staff to help counsel you on your pregnancy options.
Step 6: Seeking abortion care if you want
If your pregnancy test was positive, and you don’t want to be pregnant, carafem is here for you. We have a pregnancy calculator on our website that can help you find out how far into your pregnancy you might be, which may impact your abortion options.
Pregnancy length is measured by the date your last period started, not by the date you think you may have gotten pregnant. So start counting from the first day of your last period if you want to know how much time you may have to think about your options.
Compassionate abortion care in-person and online.
carafem offers in-person abortion care with pills or with an in-office abortion procedure in three states. We also offer online abortion care and mailing of abortion pills in 16 states, including video appointments with a provider or appointment-free online evaluations in many states. You get to choose the option that feels right for you!
If abortion is restricted in your state, we can try to help you with options for financial and travel assistance to a nearby state if you want to receive care from us. Can’t get an abortion with carafem? No problem — resources like Abortion Finder will show you more abortion providers that may fit your unique needs.
Regardless of whether your period is late, you are actually pregnant, or you are just concerned you could be, carafem is here to offer you the high-quality, trusted information and sexual and reproductive health care you deserve.
P.S. Need to receive abortion care, birth control, or STI testing and treatment? Schedule an appointment with carafem here.