Can You Miss A Period And Not Be Pregnant
Yes! Pregnancy isnt the only thing that can cause a missed period. Hormonal imbalances, such as those caused by polycystic ovary syndrome or follicular cysts, can make you miss your period. Stress, hormonal birth control, excessive exercise, malnutrition, breastfeeding, chronic diseases, and certain drugs can all cause you to miss a period.
Is It Normal To Miss A Period
There are several times in a persons life when irregular periods are expected: when a person first starts having periods , during breastfeeding, and at the beginning of perimenopause . On average, most people get their periods every 28 days. But a healthy persons menstrual cycle can last from 21 to 35 days. Apart from puberty, menopause, and pregnancy, a missed period may indicate a health issue.
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
Also Check: How To Help With Period Back Pain
Why Is My Period Late
My period late again, why? Could it be a sign of a problem? Can I still get a baby? These are some of the questions many women struggle with every day. Your ovaries usually release an egg on a monthly basis. Whenever the egg is not fertilized, your period will start due to the shedding of the lining of your uterus. If the ovaries are not releasing eggs as they should, then your period could delay as the uterus is not receiving the signals it needs. If you miss three periods in a row, you should seek out the help of a medical professional.
The Basics Of Birth Control Pills
When you swallow birth control pills, youre ingesting one or more synthetic hormones. This could be a combination of estrogen and progestin, or just progestin, depending on the type of birth control that youre taking. These hormones work to prevent pregnancy in three different ways.
They also thicken the cervical mucus, which makes it harder for sperm to reach an egg if one is released. The hormones can thin the uterine lining, too. This means that if an egg does get fertilized, itll be difficult for it to attach to the uterine lining and develop.
Birth control pills are over 99 percent effective when used correctly. This means taking the pill at the same time every day. If you miss a day or youre late taking your pill, the efficacy can decrease. With typical use, the failure rate is about
Several different types of birth control pills are available.
Some are similar to the pill packs that were first made available in 1960. They included 21 days of pills with active hormones and seven placebo or inactive pills. When you take an inactive pill, it allows for bleeding that mimics normal menstruation.
There are also packs that allow for 24 days of active pills and a shorter menstrual-like bleeding period.
Extended-cycle or continuous regimens consist of a couple of months worth of active pills. They can either reduce the number of periods you have or eliminate your period entirely.
Recommended Reading: Why Do I Get Depressed Before My Period
There’s An Issue With Your Thyroid
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck and it has a lot of responsibilities. It’s mostly known for regulating the body’s metabolism and temperature, but when it is producing too few or too many hormones it can impact your menstrual cycle.
According to the Office on Women’s Health, hypothyroidism often causes menstrual irregularities, including both late and absent periods. A study from the late 90s reported that hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid, can throw off your cycle, too.
You’re Experiencing Early Menopause
One of the defining signs of menopause is the total disappearance of the menstrual cycle for more than 12 months. Most individuals who have a menstrual cycle anticipate they will experience this sometime during their late 40s or early 50s. But for some, it can happen earlier.
Perimenopause refers to the temporary stage right before full-blown menopause occurs. During this time, the ovaries start to produce less estrogen than normal, which causes you to get your period less often.
Even if you’re below the typical menopausal age, this is not something you should rule out entirely. The American Pregnancy Association says one out of every 1,000 women between age 15 and 29 will experience premature menopause.
In general, if your late period is accompanied by night sweats or vaginal dryness, you may want to ask your doctor about checking for perimenopause.
Recommended Reading: First Period After Iud Removal Heavy
Reasons For Missed Periods Or Absence Of Menstruation
Some peoples periods arrive each month like clockwork. For others, periods are unpredictable and may come as a surprise. Sometimes, they dont happen at all! This doesnt necessarily mean youre pregnant.
Missed or late periods may happen for a variety of reasons apart from pregnancy. Common causes of missed or irregular periods range from hormonal imbalances to medical issues. Lets discuss the main reasons for a missed period and when its time to contact a health care provider.
Possible Causes For A Late Period
If your period is late, you are advised to perform at least 2 pregnancy tests, with a 7-day interval between each test. If both of these yield negative results, likelihood of pregnancy is low, and the delay in period can be a result of other situations like:
These situations can lead to the absence of your menstrual cycle for more than 3 months . You are advised to see your doctor if this happens.
Menstruation is also considered to be delayed when a girl who has reached the age of 16 has not yet menstruated for the first time. This is also known as primary amenorrhea and should be investigated by a gynecologist. This delayed period may be related to problems such as head trauma, prematurity or defects in the reproductive system such as an imperforate hymen, vaginal septum, or absence of a uterus.
Also Check: My Period Is 8 Days Late Should I Be Worried
A Late Period Under 16
Many teenagers want to know why their period is late. For many, the first few years of menstruation involve irregular periods.
The body is still developing in this stage of life, and a teens ovaries do not always release an egg monthly. This may result in irregular cycles fewer than 20 or more than 45 days. A typical cycle for teenagers lasts between 21 and 45 days.
Having fluctuating periods for two years or less during adolescence is likely nothing to worry about. Your health care provider can conduct a physical exam to make sure everythings healthy. Teens cycles start to regulate as their hormone levels stabilize, although some will still have irregular cycles on an ongoing basis.
Continue monitoring your body. When your period comes, use Flo to log the date and your symptoms. The app can help you better predict your period, even if you have an irregular cycle.
What Is A Late Period
Although a few people might have pinpoint predictability with periods, most have a little variation. So if your period is a day or two late, dont panic.
Your menstrual cycle is the length of time from day one of your period to day one of your next period, Dr. Higgins says. On average, these cycles are 24 to 38 days long.
That means that a 28-day cycle one month and a 26-day cycle the next month is probably nothing to worry about. Your period might be considered late if:
- Its been more than 38 days since your last period.
- Youre normally really regular, and your period is more than three days late.
Also Check: When Does Ovulation Start After Period
When To Contact A Doctor
Having a light period is not usually a cause for concern. However, if someone has consistently light periods or starts skipping periods altogether, they should talk with a doctor.
A person should also contact a doctor if a light period coincides with other symptoms that are causing concern, such as pelvic pain.
Youve Almost Hit Menopause
Women in perimenopause may have delayed menstrual periods due to a natural decline in ovarian function. Perimenopause begins with the onset of menstrual irregularities which can last for up to eight years, Dr. Jacobson tells us. The physiologic changes of the menopausal transition are primarily due to a decline in ovarian function represented by ovarian follicles. She explains that women are born with a finite pool of follicles during fetal life. Atresia, or the degeneration of ovarian follicles which do not ovulate during the menstrual cycle, leads to a continuous decline of ovarian follicles over a womans reproductive life. The rate of decline accelerates during the years preceding menopause represented by an increasing interval between menstrual periods leading up to the last menstrual period of her life, Dr. Jacobson notes.
You May Like: What Does It Mean When You Miss Your Period
Nutrient Deficiencies Or Chronic Disease
Underling nutrient deficiencies or chronic disease are a third reason your body may decide to delay or halt ovulation, making your period late. When these conditions go unaddressed, your body can perceive this as yet another form of stress.
Being malnourished or suffering from an unmanaged condition like an autoimmune disease are common reasons for irregular cycles or missing periods.
If your period has been missing or irregular for some time, it is always a good idea to visit your primary healthcare provider for a full checkup including lab work. Some blood tests to discuss with your doctor include:
Follicle Stimulating Hormone and LH
How Does Stress Make Your Period Late Lets Break It Down
Heightened stress levels cause an increase in the production of stress hormones like cortisol. Short bursts of stress hormones are not major issues for your hormonal balance. After the initial shock, stress hormone levels tend to return to baseline fairly quickly.
Ongoing, chronic stress can cause a ripple effect to the delicate balance of your reproductive hormones which are responsible for keeping your cycles regular and symptom-free.
Stress can lead to changes in the length of your period, as well as a whole host of other hormonal symptoms like PMS, painful periods, acne breakouts and fatigue.
Delayed or missing periods arent truly related to your period arriving late, but rather late ovulation. Heightened stress causes the body to delay ovulating until a safer time arrives.
Whilst a late period is anything but reassuring, it is actually a sign of our body trying to keep us safe. During periods of extreme stress, conceiving a child and adding more responsibility to our life is deemed an unsafe possibility.
Your body has the ability to shut down or delay ovulation until a time that it feels your environment is safe again. This might be a few days or weeks, or it may be several months or years depending on the nature of your stress.
It is a commonly held myth that your body can ovulate but then delay bleeding for several weeks or months. The part of your cycle which is delayed is almost always the follicular phase , rather than the luteal phase .
You May Like: Can You Ovulate Before Your Period
What Are Regular Periods
Most girls get their first period between the ages of 10 and 15, but some get it earlier and some later. The first period is known as menarche .
A girl’s monthly cycle is the number of days from the start of her period to the start of the next time she gets her period. You often hear this is a 28-day cycle. But 28 is just an average figure that doctors use. Cycle lengths vary some are 24 days, some are 34 days. And a girl may notice that her cycles are different lengths each month especially for the few years after she first starts getting her period.
Early in a girl’s cycle, her ovaries start preparing one egg. At the same time, the lining of the uterus becomes thick to prepare a nesting place for a fertilized egg in the event that the girl becomes pregnant.
About 2 weeks before a girl gets her period, the egg is released from the ovary . The egg travels through the fallopian tube into the uterus. If the egg isn’t fertilized by sperm, it starts to fall apart. Then the lining and egg leave a girl’s body as her period and the whole thing starts all over again that’s why we use the word “cycle.” The first day a girl’s period comes is Day 1 of her cycle.
It’s also normal for the number of days a girl has her period to vary. Sometimes a girl may bleed for 2 days, sometimes it may last a week. That’s because the level of hormones the body makes can be different from one cycle to the next, and this affects the amount and length of bleeding.
Treatments For A Late Period And Pregnancy
In general, if youve missed a period and you know youre not pregnant, you dont need specific treatment or care. However, if you were having a regular cycle and youve stopped, if youre experiencing bleeding at unexpected times, if its been more than 45 days since your last period, and if you have additional symptoms that point to other concerns, your doctor will likely look into treatment options. Depending on the cause, your doctor may prescribe hormone therapy like birth control pills or other medication, or they might be able to suggest lifestyle changes to help you have a regular period cycle.
If your late period is a sign of pregnancy, your doctor can help you come up with a treatment plan to be sure you receive the proper care and regular checkups throughout your pregnancy.
Don’t Miss: How Do I Know If I Got My Period
Your Weight Has Been Fluctuating
According to UC Riverside Health, both the ovaries and fat cells throughout the body produce estrogen. This means a sudden increase or decrease in weight can alter your period.
A 2012 study published in the Endocrinology and Metabolism Journal also found that irregular periods are more prevalent in individuals who suddenly gain or lose weight.
Taking Only The Active Combination Pills
If youre using a combination pill pack, you just need to take only the active pills with no breaks in between. You should talk to your doctor or pharmacist so they can show you which pills are active and which are the placebo pills. Youll want to throw out the placebos.
If you take the active pills continuously, you wont get a period until you stop them.
If you stop taking active pills, you may experience a withdrawal bleed, which is similar to your period. Dabney recommends that you allow this to happen once every three to four months.
Dabney says some birth control pills have a higher risk of abnormal bleeding than others. You should check with your doctor if you want to start skipping your period. They may recommend that you change the type of pill you take.
Youll also want to check with your insurance provider to make sure theyll cover more pills in less time, since youll be going through pill packs faster.
You should not be off of the birth control longer than 7 days, or you will lose contraception efficacy.
Read Also: How Many 2 Week Pay Periods In A Year
How Many Days After A Missed Period Is A Pregnancy Test Positive
Once youve missed your period, most pregnancy tests are accurate. But some people might have lower hCG levels that cant be detected by tests quite so soon. You can repeat a test 5 to 10 days after missing your period for more accurate results. A blood test can also accurately measure your hCG levels.
Referral To A Specialist
If your GP thinks a medical condition might have caused your periods to stop, they may refer you to a specialist.
Depending on what your GP thinks is causing the problem, you may be referred to:
- a gynaecologist â a specialist in treating conditions affecting the female reproductive system
- an endocrinologist â a specialist in treating hormonal conditions
You may have a gynaecological examination and various tests, including:
- blood tests â to see if you have abnormal levels of certain hormones
- an ultrasound scan, CT scan or MRI scan â to identify any problems with your reproductive system or the pituitary gland in your brain