Nobody ever said conceiving a child was easy.
If you’ve got pregnancy symptoms but a negative test, there could be any number of reasons.
It all comes down to those lovely hormones, plus other external factors:
- The reliability of the test
- The timing of the test
- The date of your last period
- A false negative pregnancy test
Yep, trying to conceive (TTC) can be complicated. 😅
We’re here to ease the confusion.
In this article: 📝
- Why do I have pregnancy symptoms but a negative test?
- Can I be pregnant and still test negative?
- What can mimic signs of pregnancy?
- Can you be 5 weeks pregnant and test negative?
Why do I have pregnancy symptoms but a negative test?
So, what can cause pregnancy symptoms but negative tests? Let’s rule a few out first.
My stomach looks like I’m pregnant but negative test
This one’s probably the biggest bugbear for women who aren’t trying to get pregnant!
We’ve all heard the mortifying stories of being asked when the baby’s due…only for there to be no bun in the oven whatsoever.
Bloating can be caused by many things, including eating a large meal, consuming too much salt (causing water retention), or your menstrual period.
Wait until your expected period date before taking a test.
I have pregnancy symptoms but a negative test
If you’re absolutely certain you cannot be pregnant, you may be experiencing symptoms of PMS instead.
Two examples of this are breast tenderness and stomach cramping – the latter of which can be confused for implantation cramps.
Again, wait a few more days for your period to start, and if it does not come, it may be time to take a test.
I’m throwing up in the morning
The term ‘morning sickness’ is something of a misnomer, as some women report getting sick at all times of the day.
In some cases, sickness can be quite extreme – the Duchess of Cambridge suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, for example.
Sometimes, sickness can be a symptom of other digestive issues, such as acid reflux or low blood sugar. Try avoiding large meals too soon before bed, and have a light snack in the morning to ease off symptoms.
Can I be pregnant and still test negative?
Of course, if you are trying for a baby, then you could, in fact, be pregnant – the results just haven’t shown up yet.
There are many causes of a false negative pregnancy test:
Taking the test too early
This is because there will be higher levels of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine, so don’t panic if you’re not seeing the results you need just yet.
hCG levels increase fast during very early pregnancy so, if you suspect you are pregnant and have received a negative test, try again in a few days’ time.
Taking the test at the wrong time of day
While there’s technically no ‘right’ time of day to take a test, the concentration of your urine can make a difference.
It’s best to take the test first thing in the morning as this is when your levels of human gonadotropin will be highest in your urine.
Throughout the day, they have the chance to be diluted by any fluids you drink.
Taking the wrong type of test
While most pregnancy tests boast accuracy of up to 99%, it’s important to choose the right brand and type.
For example, if you struggle to point the stick underneath your urine flow, it may not take a correct reading.
You might prefer a ‘BFP’ litmus paper test instead.
Another possible cause of a false negative? Multiple babies, aka twins and triplets. 😳
Here a false negative can show because the mother’s hCG is at an unusually high level (this is known as a hook effect).
A blood test, in this case, would be more sensitive and far more accurate than a urine test.
What can mimic signs of pregnancy?
There are other bodily signs to be aware of that may mimic the signs of pregnancy.
For example, you may think that spotting between periods could be a sign of something else, such as implantation bleeding.
In other cases, the signs could be something more serious.
1. Ectopic pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy can be dangerous for a woman, as it means the fertilized egg has not made its way into the uterus and instead sits inside the fallopian tubes.
Unfortunately, this type of pregnancy cannot be saved, and you will need to have an operation to prevent harm to you.
In very rare cases – usually around 3% - ectopic pregnancies can result in a negative pregnancy test.
You should see your doctor if you experience additional symptoms such as tummy pain on one side, bleeding, or dizziness.
2. Polycystic ovary syndrome
While not as serious as an ectopic pregnancy, PCOS can cause irregular periods and lead a woman to believe she is pregnant.
Women with PCOS generally have a harder time becoming pregnant due to irregular ovulation cycles.
You’ve just had a baby – surely you’re not ready for another just yet!
With the hormonal changes that come with breastfeeding, your hormones are likely to be all over the place.
This may mimic symptoms of pregnancy, including feeling emotional or having irregular cycles.
Always ask a doctor if you’re not sure.
4. Stress and diet
Lifestyle factors can have a huge impact on your menstrual cycle and digestive tract.
High levels of cortisol can lead to something they call “stress belly” — when the distribution of fat becomes more predisposed to sit around the belly area.
Ensuring you are taking care of your mental and physical health can go a long way to reducing the side effects caused by stress.
And by improving your diet or relieving stress, you can regulate your cycles and predict when best to try to conceive.
Try easing off on over-exercise, too, as this can affect periods.
Can you be 5 weeks pregnant and test negative?
At 5 weeks pregnant, the levels of human gonadotropin are likely to be around their highest – some three weeks after conception.
This means you’re more likely to get a positive test if you are pregnant, but again, it’s not always the way.
Make sure you rule out any of the above factors before you assume you’re positive or negative.