How To Know Why My Period Is Late? Top 7 Reasons

Last updated 18 Sep 2019 . 1 min read

delay in periods delay in periods

Periods. The bane of our existence as women. As much as we understand how important they are to our sexual and reproductive well-being, let’s be honest. None of us ever looks forward to it. No woman is a stranger to when the monster strikes causing a crime scene in our pants. Plus it has a way of showing up just when you don’t need it too.

Going on a vacation? Guess who is coming along.

Have a pool party this weekend? Hello, shark week.

It’s painful, it is exhausting and you can’t even sneeze without feeling like a human ketchup bottle.

But the only thing worse than getting your period, is not getting it.

Every time we have the slightest delay in our periods, most of us react kind of like this -

period delayed

But contrary to popular belief, pregnancy is not the only reason for a delayed period.

Believe it or not, most women experience it several times a year. An average menstrual cycle is 28 days long. But in reality,  women have cycles lasting anywhere between 21-35 days. So there may be a small variation in the date of your period every month.

So how much delay is normal?

Starting your period about 5 days after the expected date is nothing out of the ordinary. If there is no menstrual flow for longer than 5 days, it can be considered to be a delayed period.

However, this also doesn’t have to mean that you’re pregnant.

Periods can be delayed due to a host of reasons with regards to your body and lifestyle. Here are some of them:

#1. Stress

The most common reason for delayed periods is stress. Modern lifestyles have women feeling more stressed than ever. This has a detrimental effect on your cycle. Women who tend to be more stressed have also reported that their cramps can be more painful. Avoiding high-stress environments, getting 8 hours of sleep every night, meditating and doing regular exercise can help counter the negative effects that stress can have on your cycle. If it persists, you should consider seeing a doctor who can help prescribe coping mechanisms.

#2. Sudden weight loss or gain

When you put on or lose a lot of weight suddenly, it can affect the hormone levels in your body. In turn, this can affect your cycle cause periods to get delayed. It also happens when someone undergoes prolonged and rigorous physical activity such as training for a marathon. Weight management can help solve this. If you’ve lost weight, you should make dietary changes and ensure your body is getting all the proper nutrients to stay healthy.

#3. Changes in the weather

Our metabolism needs to constantly adjust itself to the weather. This fluctuation can have an effect on hormonal levels too. Besides, ovarian activities are influenced by sunshine. Research shows that there is significantly larger ovarian follicle size, higher frequency of ovulation and a shorter menstrual cycle in periods of more sunshine. As a result, many women get their periods early in the summer due to the hot weather. Likewise, there can be a delay in periods in the winters due to the cold.

#4. Lifestyle changes

Did you recently start a new diet? Or move somewhere a few thousand miles away? Lifestyle changes affect the overall well-being of your body. When there is a significant dietary change, introduction of new exercises or jet lag and changes in weather from moving, the body needs some time to adapt. The menstrual cycle is no different. It is absolutely okay for things to be a little out of whack for a month after a major lifestyle change.

#5. Birth control

Hormonal birth control or as it is commonly called ‘the pill’ can also be the reason for your delayed periods. These pills provide a type of oestrogen combined with progesterone for 3 weeks followed by one week of inactive or hormone free pills. This withdrawal of hormones triggers the period. Typically, these pills keep the lining of the uterus very thin. Thus, there can be very light bleeding. This is a welcome thing for many women and so these pills are also prescribed to women with extremely heavy flow otherwise. If you have just started or gotten off the pill, it may throw your cycle for a bit. It is because of hormonal changes. It takes one to three months for it to come back to normal. However, if problems persist, you should consult a gynecologist.

#6. Perimenopause

52 years is the average age for menopause in women. However, many women may start experiencing symptoms ten to fifteen years in advance. This is a sign that hormone levels have begun to fluctuate. A 28-day cycle may become a 36 or 48-day cycle. This is known as perimenopause. It’s extremely common for women to experience a delay in periods during these years. When a woman goes a full year without getting her period, she is said to have reached menopause.

#7. Thyroid dysfunction

The thyroid gland is a small gland in your neck that interacts with many systems. It is responsible for keeping everything running smoothly in the body. Any kind of thyroid imbalance be it hyper or hypothyroidism, it can have implications on your period. You should definitely visit a doctor and get the needed medication for thyroid imbalance.

So we’ve established that a delay in period can be due to several reasons that are not pregnancy. In most cases, it isn’t even something threatening.

But what about a missed period? Is missing a period a definite sign of pregnancy?

Well, not really.

In theory, a missed period is the first indication people look to get a pregnancy test. However, in practice, all of the above-stated reasons can cause you to miss a period as well.

22-year-old Devanshi missed her period the first month she moved to Germany from Mumbai. “I was terrified because I was convinced something was wrong with me. I was all alone in a new country and this stress didn't help. I visited a gynaecologist and found that there was nothing wrong with me. I was living in a different timezone and had gone from Mumbai’s non-existent winter to ferocious German winter. I was eating a completely different cuisine. Walking around and exploring new places had made me lose a lot of weight. Plus, there were the emotional implications of being away from home for the first time. So much had changed! I only had to give my body the time to process it all. The month after, my period came perfectly on time like nothing was amiss!”

However, if you often have an irregular period or frequently miss them, you should definitely go see an OB-Gyn. It may be a sign of PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It is a very common disorder in women of reproductive age. 1 in every 10 Indian women suffers from PCOS but it usually goes undiagnosed as they aren’t aware it can be a problem. Because of all the taboos surrounding all things menstruation, young women aren't educated about it.

Along with irregular periods, other symptoms include extremely heavy bleeding and painful periods, weight gain and excess facial and body hair. PCOS can cause ovaries to become enlarged and lead to follicles that surround the eggs. Consequently, the ovaries might fail to function regularly.

If left unchecked, there is a risk of infertility.

Doctors can prescribe simple lifestyle changes that can help reduce its adverse effects. They can also prescribe medicines that help regulate the periods as well as make them more comfortable.

The key is in timely diagnosis. We shouldn’t hesitate in seeking help for ourselves when it comes to matters of the uterus. Plus, we should take up educating our daughters, mothers, sisters, and friends.

Let’s break the taboo and help better a life.

Palak Kapadia

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