You are not alone if you suffer from late periods. However, experiencing a late period for several months is not normal and can be harmful to your health.
While being pregnant is a possibility for missed or delayed periods, other health or lifestyle factors may also be to blame.
In this article, we’ll go over the most common reasons for a late period.
It’s normal to experience some stress in your life. However, chronic stress can throw your body out of balance, and that includes your menstrual cycle. It causes hormonal changes in the body, causing the hormone cortisol to be released. Cortisol puts your body into survival mode and can suppress reproductive hormones, which causes a delay in both ovulation and the period.
If your stress continues, your body may induce amenorrhea and prevent you from menstruating.
One of the most common reasons for a late period is taking new birth control pills or other medications.
Your menstrual cycle may get affected if you take over-the-counter medications for a common headache or a prescription for a medical condition. Aspirin, coumadin, and ibuprofen are examples of such medicines.
Some hormonal birth control medications, such as IUDs, pills, implants or shots, can thin your uterine lining and interfere with the release of reproductive hormones, delaying your menstruation.
Aside from birth control, some thyroid medications and steroids can potentially delay your period by influencing the hormones that control your menstrual cycle.
- Excessive exercise
Working out every day is great for your physical and mental health. However, excessive exercise may result in lower levels of oestrogen, a reproductive hormone that regulates your menstrual cycle, causing your period to be delayed or skipped.
Many women who exercise may have somewhat irregular cycles, but if you don’t get your period for three months or more (a condition known as amenorrhea), you should see a doctor.
- Medical condition
Your health condition or severe illnesses can undoubtedly affect the timing of your menstrual cycle. Medical conditions that can disrupt your cycle include:
- Thyroid dysfunction: The thyroid produces hormones that regulate your body’s processes. In the case of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, these hormones are thrown out of balance, causing you to have late or missed periods.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS, like thyroid dysfunction, can result in a hormonal imbalance in your body, causing you to miss periods.
- Perimenopause: This is the first stage of menopause, in which your oestrogen levels fall, leading to missed or late periods.
- Sleep schedule changes
Your period might begin late if you work the night shift or are travelling to another time zone. These changes can disrupt your circadian rhythm, the internal clock that regulates vital cellular processes, causing you to experience irregular periods.
- Dramatic weight or diet change
If you have lost or gained a high amount of weight, your cycle may get affected. And, your changing diet may also be the reason for a late period.
While gaining weight can cause an increase in oestrogen levels, severely restricting your caloric intake or not getting enough calories for how much exercise you do can prevent your body from producing reproductive hormones. Both conditions can affect your menstrual cycle.
If you believe your reason for a late period is one of the ones listed above (or something else), you should consult your doctor right away. The sooner they can make a diagnosis, the sooner you can work on regaining control of your cycle.