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Condom + EC + negative pregnancy test - period = still worried

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Sara asks:

Hi, I'm 19 and I have a question about my late period. My boyfriend and I had sex for the first time about 2 months ago. We are both virgins and we were both very careful. We used condoms that were kept in a dry place, and that were not expired. I, however, am not on the pill, and the condom was our only preventative method. There was a moment where the condom slipped up his penis when I went to change positions, so we threw that condom out and switched condoms right away. I was scared that I might get pregnant so the next day I went to the pharmacist and I got an emergency contraceptive. I did get my period about a week after I took the EC but it wasn't red, it was brown, and light, but lasted 5 days. I have not had sex since this time. I didn't think anything of my unusual period at the time, I thought it was just a side effect of the EC.

I didn't think I had anything to worry about but now it's been almost 7 weeks and I still haven't had my regular period. I took a pregnancy test on Friday July 13 and it came out negative. What could be the cause of my late/missed period? Could the test have been a false negative? Or something else completely?

Heather Corinna replies:

Sara: so long as you took the test properly, at this stage of the game, there's earnestly no reason to be concerned you're pregnant.

With emergency contraception, it's normal to have both or either some menstrual cycle kookiness for a little while, and/or some unexplained vaginal bleeding. That bleeding might have been your period -- particularly if it arrived around the time your period normally would, or it might have been bleeding from the EC. Either way, given you a) took EC right away, b) used a condom and there was unlikely any failure and c) have a negative result with your pregnancy test taken two months after the fact, there's just no sound reason to be worried about this still.

Sounds to me like you likely did have a period, so it's not been seven weeks, maybe four at the most, right? If it hasn't been more than five weeks since the bleeding, I'd not consider you to have a late period just yet. Too, sometimes periods are missed or late for other reasons entirely: general illness, change in diet or exercise, and change in behaviours due to stress.

But certainly, if you like, you could see your sexual healthcare provider and ask for a test in their office. If you intend to keep having intercourse and feel really unsafe or worried about using condoms alone (they can be enormously effective when used properly, but some folks feel better about using two methods, which is obviously fine, and a great call if pregnancy is an absolute no-go for you), it'd be a good idea to go talk to them anyway about getting a second type of birth control to use as a backup method, and to find out what method is going to be best for you.

written 18 Jul 2007 . updated 20 Dec 2012

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