Reasons Women Can Be Pregnant and Not Know It

August 10th, 2017

It may be difficult to wrap your mind around the fact that among pregnant women, 1 in 450 won’t realise she is pregnant until week 20 or later, and 1 in 2,500 is oblivious until she actually goes into labour. Although it may be rare, the situation is very real for a handful of women because of multiple factors.

False negative

Some pregnancy tests determine whether a woman is pregnant by recognising human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in their urine sample. These tests can read a false negative when used improperly, or read wrongly. If the foetus is secreting low levels of hCG, the test will read a false negative. This is why health experts recommend women take a blood test instead to determine whether they are carrying a child.

No symptoms

For some women, the physical and biological changes as a result of pregnancy, like weight gain, abdominal swelling, morning sickness, or fatigue, don’t happen. These women can go up to 30 weeks without looking or feeling pregnant.

Moreover, it isn’t uncommon for a woman to have irregular periods because of stress, medications or health problems like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS disrupts ovulation and also causes infrequent periods, along with complications with fertility. Women with PCOS may have been told that it will be difficult for her to become pregnant so when her period is a no-show, her first thought may not be that she is pregnant.

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Bleeding during pregnancy

Around one in 10 women experience some bleeding during pregnancy. Sometimes, bleeding occurs when your body is still adjusting to being pregnant and your menstrual cycle is catching up – this is known as breakthrough bleeding. Some bleeding occurs as a result of changes to your cervix, and this is known as cervical ectropian. The cells of your cervix are affected by pregnancy, and this may result in bleeding.

Light bleeding, or spotting, during pregnancy is common, especially during the first trimester. Usually, this is no cause for alarm and some women may mistake spotting for their periods.

Denied pregnancy

Denial of pregnancy is a rare form of denial exhibited by women to mask either the fact or the implications of their own pregnancy. Denial can be a very powerful defense mechanism which results in the individual talking themselves out of the common symptoms of pregnancy. Women often mistake these symptoms for other health issues. For example, women with a history of ovarian cysts may experience discomfort around the abdominal area, and wouldn’t think they are pregnant. In addition, some women may have a denied pregnancy because of a mental health problem, like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

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