Periods are every woman's dreaded time of the month. But, they can be a source of stress if they don't show up on time. Most women have cycle length varying from 24-35 days. Despite such a liberal range, most women will panic even if it's just 1 day past their expected date. So, before you panic and try out all available brands of pregnancy test kits, stop and read this list. 

1. Travel

If you have been travelling a lot, it may disturb the delicate 'hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian' axis which controls menstruation. Long hours of travel confuse body clock, throwing menstruation and ovulation off balance. So, you may get periods late or may miss them altogether in a particular month. Similar changes will occur if you make extreme changes to your schedule like working late nights. Now you know what happens to periods during exams.

2. Stress

Both physical and mental stress can delay periods. During such situations, the body is tricked that it is an emergency situation. Hypothalamus, the controlling centre of all hormone production, stops all non-essential functions (including reproduction) to prepare the body for vital functions. This can happen in athletes who consume enough calories but burn more through exercise. Illness, surgery, training for a marathon, can mimic stress and mess with the menstrual cycle.

3. Not knowing the duration of your cycle

Not every cycle is perfectly 28 days. You may or may not get periods on the same date every month. So, if you are late for a day or three, don't start imagining the worst.

4. Extreme weight fluctuation

Sudden and extreme weight loss and gain will make your cycles irregular. Being underweight will prevent the production of the adequate amount of hormones to maintain your cycles. In overweight women, the excess fat will result in overproduction of estrogen. This will cause unchecked endometrial growth, resulting in infrequent, heavy periods.

5. Hormonal birth control

While birth control pills usually make cycles regular, in some women it may lead to irregularity. The emergency birth control contains high dose progesterone which disrupts the body's natural hormone balance. However, in both cases, the body will readjust gradually and cycles should be back to normal in 1-2 months.

6. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is an extremely common disorder in today's age, with 1 out of 4 women suffering from it. It causes loss of regulation of progesterone and estrogen production, resulting in irregular periods, unwanted hair and weight gain. If left untreated, it can cause fertility problems or even diabetes and hypertension in long run.

7. Thyroid disorders

Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are seen to make cycles irregular. The thyroid gland is responsible for regulating body's metabolism. Any changes outside normal will affect the hormone balance and in turn, cause delayed cycles. If you notice sudden weight gain or loss, skin changes, intolerance to heat/cold, remember that thyroid could be the cause.

Points to remember:

  1. Take a nutritious, balanced diet. Don't skip fats altogether. They are necessary for the production of hormones.
  2. Always try to maintain a regular schedule. If you wake, eat and sleep at a fixed time, it will help your hormones stay balanced.
  3. A delayed period once in a long time is usually due to temporary hormone imbalance and does not need treatment. However, if you have frequent or continuously irregular or abnormal periods, pay a visit to your gynaecologist.