Illness Can Affect Your Menstrual Cycle


Dear Midwife,
I came down with the flu on the day that I was supposed to get my period. It is now a week later and I have not yet gotten my period but my cold has gotten better. I usually experience heavy back pain and cramps 3 days before my period. I have not gotten any of these symptoms. Instead I am nauseous and emotional. Calculating on the time I was ovulating, and the time I had intercourse, I should be pregnant right now. I have bought a box of pregnancy tests(2) and they both said negative.

My question is...could the flu affect my menstrual cycle to the point where I am a week late? Or does this mean I am pregnant?

Please let me know. My husband and I desperately want a child and don't know if this cold is what is tripping us up.

Thank you.


Illness can definitely delay ovulation, and therefore your period. Of course you will know one way or the other in another month, but I'm sure you want to know sooner. I'd suggest re-testing two weeks after you expected your period. If you are still negative and miss a second period, then it is time for a check-up.

-- Cynthia, CNM. PhD.

Cynthia Flynn

Cynthia Flynn, CNM. PhD, is the General Director of the Family Health and Birth Center which provides prenatal, birth, postnatal, gynecological and primary health care to underserved women and their families in Washington, D.C. Recently Cynthia served as Associate Professor of Nursing at Seattle University. There she not only taught, but remained in full scope clinical midwifery practice at Valley Medical Center where she cared for pregnant and birthing women, and practices well-woman gynecology, family planning, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

Cynthia founded Columbia Women's Clinic and Birth Center, where she took care of pregnant women and infants up to two weeks of age and attended both birth center and hospital births. Before Cynthia earned her CNM, she worked as a registered nurse in labor and delivery and postpartum and is a certified Doula and Doula trainer.