You’re a few days late for your period. You tested, and it’s negative! What’s going on? Is the test not sensitive enough? Can I still be pregnant even though my test says I’m not?
Well, yes, it’s possible. To understand why, you need to know about the two phases of your cycle.
Menstrual Cycle Phases
The follicular phase: Starts on the first day of your period and lasts until the day of ovulation
The luteal phase: Starts the day after ovulation and continues to the last day of your cycle.
The first part, the follicular phase, can vary in length. Most women ovulate somewhere between cycle day 13-19, but it’s very well possible to ovulate earlier, or later. The average day of ovulation was recently found to be on cycle day 17. But just because you ovulate on day 17 this month, it doesn’t mean you’ll do so again next month.
The second part of your cycle; the luteal phase, is much steadier. It’s generally between 12-14 days, give or take a day. If you want to know your luteal phase, you’d count the number of days from ovulation until the start of your cycle. So if you ovulated on March 1st and you got your period on the 14th, that means your luteal phase was 13 days long. There’s a good chance that your luteal phase is going to be 13 days next month too (give or take a day).
So… can I still be pregnant after a BFN?
To answer the question; “can you still be pregnant even though you’re late and just got a BFN (big fat negative) on your pregnancy test”? Yes, but only if you ovulated later than you thought.
Did you track ovulation using ovulation predictor kits, cervical mucus, and confirmed it by measuring your basal body temperature? If you’re absolutely sure of your ovulation date and 2 weeks have passed since you ovulated, and you’re still getting negatives, you’re probably not pregnant.
But if you relied on an app to tell you when you ovulated, well… chances are you ovulated later and you’re simply not as “late” as you think. Apps can be very helpful, but only if you give them enough information to work with (like tracking your temperature, logging OPKs). If all you’ve given them is the start of your period, they go by averages. But you’re not average. No one is.
The moral of the story is: track your ovulation so you know if your period is actually late, or if you just ovulated later than expected.
Bull, Jonathan R., Simon P. Rowland, Elina Berglund Scherwitzl, Raoul Scherwitzl, Kristina Gemzell Danielsson, and Joyce Harper. 2019. NPJ Digital Medicine 2 (August): 83.