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Ask the Expert

Q: I had intercourse and we did the “withdrawal” method. I got my period the next 2 months and I took a couple of pregnancy tests in case and they came out negative, but I’m having pregnancy symptoms. Is it possible that I’m pregnant?

A: According to the U.S. Office on Women’s Health, when used correctly, home pregnancy tests can be 99% accurate. However, taking the pregnancy test too soon after having sex can sometimes lead to a false negative (meaning that the test may be negative, even though you are pregnant). Also, any additional episodes of unprotected sex increase your risk of pregnancy. Remember that the withdrawal method is one of the least effective, with about 22% of women using this method “typically” (so, how most people use it) getting pregnant in one year. In summary, assuming you have not had any additional episodes of relatively unprotected sex (meaning sex with only the withdrawal method for birth control), the fact that you have had multiple negative pregnancy tests over time, along with two regular periods, is very reassuring that you are NOT pregnant.

If you are still having symptoms that make you think you might be pregnant, you should probably see a doctor to find out why you are having those symptoms. There is actually a thing, called “pseudocyesis” (or “false pregnancy”), where a woman’s body believes she is pregnant and makes pregnancy hormones, resulting in many of the symptoms of pregnancy (lack of periods, swollen belly, enlarged and tender breasts, nausea and vomiting, weight gain, and even sensation of baby movement), even though she isn’t pregnant. However, this is very rare, and having regular periods makes it even less likely. Much more common causes of pregnancy symptoms, such as missed periods, nausea and vomiting, tender breasts, and being tired all the time, include such things as having a hormone imbalance, various illnesses, and just being super stressed out, depressed, or just not getting enough sleep! So, your best bet, if you are still having some (or all) of these symptoms, is to see your doctor. But thankfully, in your case, with multiple negative pregnancy tests, those symptoms are probably not due to pregnancy.

If you need help finding a doctor, use the Searchable Directory at to find a provider closest to you.

Dr. Diane Straub, Chief, Division of Adolescent Medicine & Professor of Pediatrics, USF Health and Medical Director, Ybor Youth Clinic


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