Reasons for a late period
A late period doesn't always mean you're pregnant. There are many other reasons why a woman might have a late period.
What can delay a period?
The effect of stress on the menstrual cycle proves that it’s all mind over matter. While stress is subjective to everyone, significant stress of any kind can affect the part of your brain that regulates hormones, creating an imbalance and resulting in delayed, irregular, and even heavy periods.
Those on extended-cycle birth control pills won't experience menstruation on a typical 28-day cycle because these contraceptives work on a 91-day cycle which means your period will come every three months. Once you stop taking the pill, it might take one to three months for your cycle to normalize. A period occurs when the uterine lining sheds and the hormones in birth control pills can keep the lining very thin, causing you to miss a period.
Located in your neck, the thyroid gland helps regulate your metabolism and keeps other systems in your body in check. Thyroid imbalances can have implications for your period.
Some medication could affect your menstrual cycle. Some examples are OTC meds that can affect your cycle include Aspirin and ibuprofen.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
This is the infection of the uterus, ovaries, and/or fallopian tubes and can occur when chlamydia or gonorrhea is left untreated. Pelvic inflammatory disease could be a period disruptive, causing irregular flows.
These are noncancerous growths of the uterus, which may cause irregularity with your period, including heavier flows, as well as both longer or more infrequent periods.
Also known as premature ovarian failure, premature menopause occurs when women under the age of 40 experience symptoms such as delayed periods, hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
This is a medical condition caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. The hallmark of PCOS is irregular periods, excessive hair growth, cysts on the ovaries, and infertility. With PCOS, your period can vary from every two weeks, every three to six months, or even just once a year.
Excessive weight loss can be another reason for late periods. Severe weight loss or anorexia can shut down the hypothalamus's production of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), both of which help regulate the ovaries. Gaining body weight can also have a similar effect, especially in those who have PCOS.
A change in your schedule
Changing schedules can throw off your body. If your work schedule frequently changes, especially from days to nights, if you’re experiencing severe jet lag, or if your schedule is just very chaotic, it can take a toll on your period. Generally, schedule changes shouldn't cause you to completely miss your period but it can be a contributing factor for why your period is a bit off - either starting earlier or later than expected.
And lastly, you shouldn’t rule out pregnancy as a possible reason for your late period, even if you are using contraception as it’s not always 100% effective.
How much delay is normal in periods? If your period hasn’t started 5 or more days after you’re expecting it to, it can be considered late.
When to visit the doctor
In general, if you have one or two irregular periods, can't pinpoint the reasons for a late period, or just feel off for any reason (after all, you know your body best), it’s best to make an appointment with your doctor so they can check for certain conditions.
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