Why is your period late?

Why is your period late?

If your period is late and you’ve ruled out obvious suspects like pregnancy or active menopause, there’s still no need to panic. Many experience irregular menstruation at one time or another. But if your period has been delayed more than a few times, there are a few potential factors you may like to consider.

Maybe you’re just on the go too much, and skipping meals more than you think. Suddenly losing weight can interfere with your body’s ability to ovulate. If your body doesn’t “prepare” for a fertile interval through ovulation, the shedding of the uterine lining - also known as menstruation - won’t occur.

On the other hand, rapid weight gain can also cause your cycle to become irregular. An excess amount of the hormone oestrogen, which interferes with menstrual regularity, sometimes results from rapid or excessive weight gain.

Your doctor can help you determine if you are underweight or overweight to an extent that your menstrual cycle might be affected. For example, being 10 percent or more under average body weight has been associated with delayed periods.

Heavy workouts can also contribute to dramatic weight loss. But exercise can also be an individual factor that affects menstrual cycles, even for women who fall within the average weight range.

Female dancers and competitive athletes are especially vulnerable to the phenomenon of delayed or halted menstruation. Their unique combination of tremendous physical activity, lowered body fat, and the mental stress of competition and performance have been known to cause period irregularity.

A general practitioner or sports medicine specialist can work with you to make minor adjustments in your regimen without negatively impacting performance.

Does alcohol affect your periods?

For many, the possibility that your alcohol consumption might be the cause of your irregular period may have never crossed your mind. Yet excessive drinking sometimes disrupts estrogen. In turn, fluctuations or slowed production of this hormone can result in delayed periods, or periods that are skipped altogether.

If you think that your late periods and other physical symptoms may be a sign of alcohol abuse, don’t feel ashamed to seek help. There are countless ways to address the issue in ways that feel comfortable for you, including support groups, counseling, and alcohol treatment centers

women drinking and periods

Top 6 Causes of a late period

Other than pregnacy, weight and alcohol consumption there six more explanations that may explain your late period. An OB-GYN is key when it comes to determining why your period is delayed. But before your appointment, it can be helpful to consider any other situations that might affect your cycle. These include:

  • Stress. Emotional tension can affect your hypothalamus gland, which regulates hormone production. Ongoing stress in your life can ultimately lead to delayed periods.
  • Contraception use. Even those birth control methods which don’t operate by pausing periods can still cause a bit of irregularity, depending on their hormonal blend. Or you may have recently stopped using a type that inhibits periods, and your body is still adjusting.

  • Perimenopause. Many people with periods experience a pre-menopause period that can last from months to years. During this time, periods may come farther apart, and they may shorten or lengthen in duration. Because the experience can vary so widely, it may not be obvious to you at first that a late period might be perimenopause onset.

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome. PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that results in underdeveloped ovarian sacs that interfere with egg formation.

  • Additional hormone imbalances. Along with PCOS, hormone imbalances can cause late periods and other menstrual changes. These can stem from irregularities in the pituitary or thyroid gland.

  • Scar tissue. Factors such as surgery or fibroids can cause uterine scarring. Over time, the scar tissue builds up and interferes with the formation and shedding of the uterine lining, which is experienced as period bleeding.

Should you see a doctor if your period is late?

While the majority of causes related to a late period are temporary and harmless, it is always important to consult a doctor if you are concerned. While it can be difficult to share struggles with medical professionals, they can help you deal with many challenges tied to infrequent or stopped menstruation.