When to Take a Pregnancy Test If You Have PCOS

If your menstrual period comes rarely or not at all, you may have the medical condition polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). For women with PCOS who are sexually active or trying to get pregnant, waiting until you get your period or not becomes a guessing game. It also makes it difficult to know when you should take a pregnancy test.

This article will discuss when to take a pregnancy test if you have PCOS. It will talk about how irregular menstrual periods (periods that are early, late, or missed) can make it difficult to determine whether you are pregnant or not.

Close up of woman hold check pregnancy test.

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PCOS and Pregnancy Tests

Menstrual irregularity is often due to an imbalance of hormones. Some women with PCOS can have a period that lasts three weeks. Others may not get a period for three months, never knowing when or if it will show up. Some women may get no periods whatsoever.

Only a small percentage of women with PCOS will have a regular menstrual cycle. 

A woman with PCOS who is trying to get pregnant could face the problem of not knowing if she is pregnant or not. She and her partner could attempt to conceive for months, trying to have sex at the most likely time of ovulation, when an egg is released.

Then, one month, she may miss a period. Since she always has an irregular menstrual cycle, however, this may or may not mean she is pregnant.

She and her partner might get their hopes up, thinking she is pregnant. But then she could take a pregnancy test and have it be negative. This scenario can repeat month after month and be a frustrating, emotional experience.

Or, in another month, a home pregnancy test could finally have a positive result. Then, at her first OB/GYN (obstetrician/gynecologist) appointment for her pregnancy, she may learn that she was already 10 weeks pregnant. This is because the previous results were wrong, something that is also common with PCOS.

Recap

Since women with PCOS don't have regular menstrual periods, they may not know when to time sex to get pregnant. They may also not know whether a missed period means pregnancy or not, or when they should take a pregnancy test. This can be frustrating and make it harder to get pregnant.

False-Negative Pregnancy Tests

There are many factors that can cause a false-negative pregnancy test, where the test says you aren't pregnant but you really are. The less likely reasons are that the at-home test didn't work correctly or was expired.

Most false-negative results occur when levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG, also known as the "pregnancy hormone") in the urine are too low for the test to detect pregnancy. This can happen if you take the pregnancy test too early, especially if you ovulated late in the month. This can happen with women who have PCOS.

A false-negative test can also happen if your levels of hCG become diluted (watered down) by drinking too much liquid before the test. This is why the home pregnancy test kits recommend you urinate first thing in the first morning to get an accurate result. This cause can happen whether you have PCOS or not.

When to Take a Pregnancy Test

A woman should take a pregnancy test whenever she thinks she may be pregnant. Since it can take up to a week for hCG levels to rise, it is best to wait a good seven days or so after a missed period to take a home pregnancy test.

Levels of hCG can also be measured by a blood test. But this is usually done in a healthcare provider’s office. If you get a negative result, you can recheck in a week or so with another at-home test to be sure.

Take a pregnancy test seven days after your missed period. Recheck in another week if the test is negative.

Early Signs of Pregnancy

Not all women, especially first-time moms, can tell whether they are pregnant in the early weeks of pregnancy. But there are signs and symptoms to look for that can give a clue that a woman is pregnant.

Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy include:

  • Missed period
  • Increased fatigue
  • Sore or tender breasts
  • Food aversions (feeling sick to your stomach when you smell or eat certain foods)
  • Mood swings
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea
  • Increased body temperature
  • Headaches
  • Lower back pain

Becoming familiar with these common signs and symptoms can help you know if you may be pregnant. While you are waiting to find out for sure, avoid alcohol, smoking, and any drug use just in case.

How to Improve Menstrual Regularity

Increased stress, along with diet and exercise changes, can affect your menstrual period. If you experience irregular periods and you have PCOS, chances are it is because of a hormone imbalance.

The best ways to achieve a regular menstrual period if you have PCOS include:

  • Follow a healthy diet. Enjoy a diet that is rich in antioxidants and healthy fats as well as low in processed or sugary foods.
  • Exercise regularly. One study found that sedentary women (women who spend a lot of time sitting down) with PCOS who exercised for 30 minutes on three days a week ovulated more regularly.
  • Take supplements. Supplements that have been shown to improve menstrual regularity and ovulation in women with PCOS include n-acetylcysteine, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and a combination of myo and d-chiro inositol.

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

If your period is two weeks late and you are still getting negative pregnancy tests, visit your gynecologist. They may do a pregnancy exam and blood test. Your healthcare provider can also help you recognize the early signs of pregnancy so you know when to take a pregnancy test or schedule an appointment.

Contact your healthcare provider immediately and/or go to the emergency room if you have a positive pregnancy test along with:

  • Severe abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or fainting

These may be signs of an ectopic pregnancy, in which a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus. This is an emergency that can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical care. The symptoms could also be the result of another medical problem that requires immediate attention.

Always trust your gut instincts. The sooner you are checked for pregnancy, the sooner you can know for sure and receive proper medical care and treatment.

Consulting with your healthcare provider before getting pregnant is important. This will prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy. Your healthcare provider can help you find ways to make your menstrual periods more regular, too.

Summary

When a woman has PCOS, it makes it difficult to determine if she's pregnant or not. That's because women with PCOS often deal with irregular menstrual periods. This means they may have early, late, or missed periods.

Following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and taking supplements can help you work toward getting regular menstrual periods. Talk with your healthcare provider to find out what else you can do. You should also contact your healthcare provider right away if you think you may be pregnant.

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6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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