When Should I Test Positive?

QUESTION

Dear Midwife,
My period has been late for about 9 days now. Actually my period has been irregular ever since I got married (late November last year). But 9 days late is considered a record for me. Since this year, at most my period has been late is 5 days. I did take a pregnancy test (ClearBlue brand) on a day ago (in the morning) and it came out negative. Unsatisfied, I went to the doctor whom took a urine test (which looks rather 'cheap' compared to the one I'd used). It came out negative.

Can it be because my HCG level is low that the test came out negative? But I had read at Pregnancy.org website that ClearBlue can detect HCG level as low as 25 mIU. (Perhaps I took the US-based ClearBlue which reads only at 40mIU and above?

My period is usually accompanied by the really painful sensation of swollen breasts. I am not experiencing any breast tenderness at the moment. Also, another indication that I'm having a period is that my discharge will turn brown. This is also not present at the moment. I however noticed that my body temperature is not 'normal'. Like, during night times for past one week, I have problem sleeping due to the 'heaty' nature of my body.

The doctor advised some folic acids in the meantime to boost my fertility. If I am not having my period after a week, she asks me to come back for follow-up. My question is how soon can I know that I'm pregnant and which HPT works best under my conditions. Also, is it normal not to have one of the common symptoms of pregnancy that is breast tenderness?

Thanks for assuaging my worries.
Eliza

ANSWER

Some women have no "symptoms" of pregnancy at all, even though they have a normal pregnancy. If you have gone as much as five days late (not sure what that means) in the past, I would start counting from there and say that you are four extra days late now. About 10% of women do not make enough hCG to show on a pregnancy test until 14 days after a missed period. You may be one of these, or you may just be missing a period for no reason (it happens once in a while). Consumer Reports evaluated pregnancy tests and said that First Response rated highest by their criteria.

If you miss a second period with a negative pregnancy test 14 days later, then you should see your gynecology provider.

-- Cynthia, CNM

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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.