A Missed Period Could Mean You’re Pregnant But There Might Be Another Cause
Pregnancy is by far the most common cause of a missed period. However, other medical and lifestyle factors can also affect your menstrual cycle making your period late.
Weight changes, hormonal irregularities, and menopause are among the most common causes if you’re not pregnant. With these issues, you may miss a period for one or two months, or you may experience complete amenorrheathat is, no period for three or more months in a row.
A normal menstrual cycle is about 28 days. However, a normal cycle could be up to 40 days. If your cycle is longer than this, or longer than usual for you, it’s considered late.
This article explores 10 common reasons your period may be delayed.
Verywell / Cindy Chung
When To See Your Physician If You Miss Your Period
If youve ruled out pregnancy as a cause, see a physician after three missed or dramatically different periods. Estrogen and progesterone have important roles beyond menstruation. They:
- Stabilize your mood.
- Promote bone health.
- Support heart health.
Sometimes, thyroid issues might interfere with hypothalamus/pituitary/ovary interactions resulting in disturbance of the menstrual cycle. Those conditions are generally easy to fix, says Dr. Kollikonda. Polycystic ovary syndrome is another condition that can impact the menstrual cycle due to a hormonal imbalance. So the first step is to rule out conditions that could be causing the period changes.
A Lot Of Females Say Their Cycles Are A Little Weird Right Now And Preliminary Study Data Seems To Back That Up
We get it: living in a pandemic can really feel like the sky is falling. The last thing you need is a late period, especially if you’re not even sexually active. So what’s the culprit: Hormones? Stress? Less-than-optimal eating habits? To find out, I talked to doctors about how stress, especially the kind we’re going through during the coronavirus pandemic, can affect your period.
You May Like: 90 Day Employee Probationary Period Template
Biological Relationship Between Stress And The Reproductive System
Stress activates a hormonal pathway in the body called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis . Activation of the HPA axis is associated with increased levels of cortisol and corticotropin–releasing hormone . The HPA axis, cortisol, and CRH help control stress response in the body . CRH and cortisol release can suppress normal levels of reproductive hormones, potentially leading to abnormal ovulation, anovulation , or amenorrhea . Furthermore, abnormal levels of CRH in reproductive tissue have been associated with negative pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth .
What To Eat If Periods Are Not Coming
7 foods to eat if you have irregular periods
- Ginger. Ginger is very beneficial for your health. …
- Unripe papaya. You can regulate your periods by adding unripe papaya to your diet! …
- Cinnamon. Love the taste of cinnamon? …
- Bleeding or spotting between menstruation.
- Bleeding or spotting after sex.
Don’t Miss: Things That Will Delay Your Period
A Change In Your Schedule
Changing schedules can throw off your body clock. If you frequently change work shifts from days to nights, or if your schedule is generally all over the place, your period can be fairly unpredictable.
A change in your schedule shouldn’t cause you to completely miss your period, but it can cause your period to start earlier or later than expected. Your cycle can also change by a few days if you experience jet lag.
How Stress Can Affect Your Menstrual Cycle
Dont stress! An absent or late period can be the result of ongoing mental health issues.
Those who menstruate have all been there your period is a day or two late and youre wondering why. Of course, pregnancy is the first reason that comes to mind but there could be many reasons for an irregular cycle.
Stress, whether emotional, nutritional, or physical, can cause an increase in endorphins and cortisol secretion which interrupt hormone production, explained Randa J. Jalloul, MD, OB-GYN specialist with UT Physicians. This can lead to an abnormal menstrual cycle. Its the bodys way of expressing unreadiness for ovulation and pregnancy.
If the stress is short-lived, you may miss a period or be a few days late. However, if the stress is chronic, more erratic or absent menstruation can occur. Extreme weight changes and physical activity are also common culprits of a delayed cycle.
Some studies have observed that over 70% of women experience recovery with the resumption of menses if their absent periods were associated with psychological stress or weight loss. Women who recover typically have a higher body mass index and lower cortisol levels than those who dont, shared Jalloul, associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston.
Also Check: Cramps And Back Pain But No Period
Can Stress Cause Your Period To Come Early Surprisingly Yes
Having a period come early is just as nerve-racking as it is showing up two or three days late. While you may initially feel overwhelmed trying to figure out why this might happen , it may be as simple as assessing the amount of stress you’ve been under. Amy Roskin, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn and chief medical officer of The Pill Club, explained that stress can not only cause your period to be delayed but also to arrive early.
“Many people know that stress can cause your period to come late, it can also be associated with your period coming prematurely,” Dr. Roskin told POPSUGAR. This is because stress can cause a wave of hormonal imbalances and changes. “Specifically, stress causes increased production of the hormone cortisol, which can affect the functioning of the ovaries and lead to lighter or shorter periods,” she said, adding that spotting is also relatively common when someone is under a lot of stress. The more stress you experience , the more cortisol your body produces, putting you at greater risk for unscheduled bleeding.
Stress And Period Pain
When you do have your period, stress can also contribute to increased period pain. Since physical soreness and cramping is a common side effect of stress and anxiety, getting your period when you’re stressed out can be a double whammy in terms of unpleasant physical side effects. Stress can make cramps even worse than usual, and can also contribute to the lethargy and fatigue that can accompany menstruation.
If you’re suffering from severe cramps, there are a variety of home remedies available for both stress and period pain. Hot water bottles, microwavable heating pads, and electric blankets can all provide physical relief for intense pain. The heat helps relax uterine muscles and soothe the area. Counterintuitively, exercise can also help both periods and stress. Exercise is a great way to combat period pain and anxiety and releases a wealth of beneficial hormones into the body. Over the counter pain, meds can also provide relief, in addition to beneficial herbs and spices like tea, ginger, and turmeric.
Other Reasons For A Missed Or Delayed Period
While stress can definitely be the culprit behind missed periods, there are also a variety of other reasons why your cycle could be delayed. If you’re not sure why your menstrual cycle is irregular, it’s always a good idea to check in with a medical professional to make sure that nothing more serious is going on.
Read Also: What Type Of Birth Control Stops Your Period
Depression Can Also Affect Your Period
Like stress, depression can also have an effect on hormones. Depression is one of the factors that can lead to amenorrhea, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The two conditions are often linked people with chronic stress in their life have a higher risk of developing depression, notes the Mayo Clinic.
There’s another consideration when it comes to depression and your period: Some antidepressant medications including SSRIs can increase the levels of a hormone called prolactin, according to a March 2015 review published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. This can delay your period or skip it entirely.
Plus, people experiencing depression often shift their eating habits and experience a loss of appetite. Not eating sufficiently, and having a low body weight, are potential causes of amenorrhea, per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
If your period is irregular or doesn’t occur at all for more than three months, you should talk to your gynecologist, Livingston says.
Tips For Getting Your Flow Back
Stress seriously messes with your body. It can cause low energy, headaches, stomach aches, chest pain, and insomnia and thats just in the short term. If youre feeling stressed, depressed, or anxious, your flow is probably being affected, too.
While these things are never one-size-fits all, here are a few tips to get your period back on track:
- Take a breather.Studies show that controlled breathing exercises can help lower blood pressure, boost feelings of well-being, and relieve stress.
- Get some exercise. OK, so youve definitely heard this one before. But fitting some exercise in can boost your mood and relieve stress.
- Free up your schedule. Its not always possible to cut down on your responsibilities. But if you can, try to give yourself a break and fit in some self-care.
- Chat with a mental health expert.Talking to a therapist or another mental health professional can help you work through your stress in a way that works best for your unique needs.
Since everyones different, expect to use some trial-and-error when fighting stress. Youve got this.
Don’t Miss: Why Am I Bleeding Off My Period
Youve Lost Or Gained Weight
Severe changes in body weight can screw with your periods timing. Extreme increases or decreases in body fat, for example, can lead to a hormonal imbalance that causes your period to come late or stop entirely.
In addition, severe calorie restriction affects the part of your brain that talks to your endocrine system and gives instructions for the creation of reproductive hormones. When this communication channel is disrupted, hormones can get out of whack.
Why Do Periods Come Late
Your cycle Missed or late periods happen for many reasons other than pregnancy. Common causes can range from hormonal imbalances to serious medical conditions. There are also two times in a woman’s life when it’s totally normal for her period to be irregular: when it first begins, and when menopause starts.
42 related questions found
Also Check: How Long After Missed Period Do You Take A Test
Why Might You Miss A Period
As you know, hormones play a determining role in the menstrual cycle. The impact of stress, if it continues for several weeks and is intense, can completely upset the internal harmony between estrogen and progesterone.The main responsible for a delay in menstruation is cortisol, known as the stress hormone.
Cortisol alters the functioning of the hypothalamus. This structure controls thepituitary gland, which is key to the regulation and correct release of hormones in the body.
Due to this hypothalamic dysfunction, the ovaries stop producing estrogen. It completely alters processes such as ovulation and the menstrual cycle itself.
Reducing levels of stress and applying appropriate emotional coping mechanisms or problem-solving techniques can allow hormonal harmony and normal menstruation to be restored.
When To Call Your Healthcare Provider
Missing a period every once in a while is usually not cause for concern. How much of a delay is normal for your period? It depends. On average, a menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, but 40 days could also be within the range of normal. And your cycle will change throughout your life, so at some time, you’re likely to experience a late period when you’re not pregnant.
That said, you should see a healthcare provider if you miss more than one period, or if your missed period is accompanied by new or unusual symptoms.
Seek medical attention right away if you also experience any of the following:
- New or worsening headaches
Recommended Reading: Why Is My Period 6 Days Late
Stress Can Cause Irregular Periods
In a 2015 study of 100 female undergrad students, researchers found a strong association between those who reported high stress levels and menstrual irregularities. While measuring precise stress levels can be tricky, the research is clear: Perceived stress and menstrual fluctuations are often related.
Can Stress Delay Your Period Yes And It’s A Common Reason
- It’s normal for stress to delay a period, or even cause you to skip it entirely.
- Stress hormones are known to affect menstruation, and research has found that those with higher levels of perceived stress are more likely to miss a period.
- If your period is irregular or doesn’t occur for three months, you should talk with a gynecologist.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The majority of the time, periods arrive like clockwork. But sometimes, periods are late or skipped entirely.
There are all sorts of reasons for a missed period. Pregnancy tops the list, of course. But other factors including taking some medications, hormonal issues, and menopause can also delay your period.
In fact, stress is a common reason for a period that doesn’t arrive on schedule.
“A woman’s menstrual cycle can be a great barometer for her stress level both acute stress and chronic stress,” says Lisa Valle, DO, OB/GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center.
Read Also: Can I Go To The Gynecologist On My Period
How Does Stress Affect The Body
A stressful situation, whether its something environmental, like an expensive phone bill, or psychological, such as persistent worry about a relationship, can trigger a whole deluge of stress hormones that produce physiological changes that our bodies are literally evolved to make.This is commonly referred to as the fight or flight response, and, while necessary back in the day when there was a chance of being chased or hunted by a saber-toothed tiger, is less helpful when dealing with a difficult colleague or a looming university deadline.Theres a lot of interesting science behind this fight-or-flight instinct that will help you understand how your stress is affecting you, which well explore in a moment. Dont worry, its super understandable and will help you calm down when things arent right with your cycle.
Stress And Your Cycle
While they might seem initially unrelated, stress can have a significant effect on your menstrual cycle. Although stress is often a normal part of everyday life, excessive stress, particularly after significant negative life events like a breakup, death in the family, or personal or professional disappointment, can wreak havoc on the normal rhythm of ovulation and menstruation.
While there is a correlation between stress and late or missed periods, not much is known about the relationship between stress and the menstrual cycle. Stress may affect reproductive hormones, messing with the timing of your period or even temporarily stopping it altogether. Stress can also cause irregular periods, spotting, more severe cramping, and other problems.
Recommended Reading: Why Has My Period Not Stopped
Being Overweight Or Obese
Being overweight or obese can also affect your menstrual cycle. If you’re overweight, your body may produce an excess amount of oestrogen, one of the hormones that regulate the reproductive system in women.
The excess oestrogen can affect how often you have periods, and can also cause your periods to stop. Your GP may refer you to a dietitian if you have a BMI of 30 or more, and it’s affecting your periods. The dietitian will be able to advise you about losing weight safely.
Stress And Late Periods
A normal menstrual cycle ranges somewhere between four and five weeks, although cycles can be longer or shorter depending on the individual. Even more important in determining a healthy cycle than period length is period regularity: as long as you have regular, consistent cycles, it’s a good sign of a healthy reproductive system as well as general physical health.
When you’re stressed out, your menstrual cycle can be disrupted or delayed, leading to a late or nonexistent period. Both chronic and short-term stress can affect your cycle, particularly if the stress is severe enough to cause other symptoms, like changes in appetite and sleep patterns. Stress can even cause amenorrhea, the technical term for one or more missed periods in a row.
A late or missed period can compound the stress you’re already feeling, further delaying your cycle and exacerbating irregularities in your cycle. While a missed period due to stress is relatively common, it can still be scary to experience, especially when you’re worried about possible pregnancy or other health issues.
If you’re not sure what’s caused your period to be late, it’s always a good idea to rule out pregnancy and to see a doctor for a possible diagnosis. But if you know you’ve been particularly stressed out lately, there’s a good chance that stress is the culprit behind your period’s delay!
Stress And Spotting
Don’t Miss: How Do I Make My Period Stop
Why Is My Period Late On Birth Control
Contraceptives can help regulate your periods, but other factors including stress, diet, and changes in weight can still affect your menstrual cycle. It’s also possible to experience oligomenorrhea, infrequent or abnormally light bleeding, while using contraceptives.
Stress Can Cause Amenorrhea Or A Missed Period
According to Cleveland Clinic, amenorrhea is the absence of a monthly period. This can occur as a result of issues with the ovaries, reproductive organs, or hormones and stress is a known cause.
In a study that examined the connection between menstrual problems and stress, female students who had high perceived stress were four times more likely to experience amenorrhea. Other studies have found a similar connection between stress and irregular menstruation.
Stress can also lead to a longer cycle, a condition known as oligomenorrhea, says Briana Livingston, MD, OB/GYN at MemorialCare Medical Group. A late or skipped period can be a cause of additional stress, notes Livingston, especially if you’re not trying to get pregnant.
From your body’s perspective, the type of stress you’re experiencing doesn’t matter. “Any type of stress can affect your period. This can be emotional, mental or physical,” says Valle.
If you are stressed, Livingston advises trying meditation, exercising regularly, and discussing problems with loved ones or a mental health professional. The good news is that once your stress passes, your period should go back to normal.
“When major stress in your life resolves, your period will almost always resume its regular schedule without any long lasting effects on your cycle or your fertility,” says Livingston.
Don’t Miss: Why Would I Be Bleeding After My Period