Are your periods late? Has your mind started wondering about the most fearful possibility? Periods are almost every woman's dreaded time of the month. But, it can also be a source of stress if they do not show up on time.

Most women have menstrual cycle lengths varying from 21 to 40 days. Despite such a liberal range, most women will panic even if it is just 1 day past their expected date. 

So, before you panic and try out all available brands of pregnancy test kits in the market, stop right now. There can be many reasons other than pregnancy for delayed periods. Read on more to know more about it.

8 Reasons Your Period Is Late, Excluding Pregnancy:

1. Travel

If you have been travelling a lot, it may disturb the delicate 'hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian' axis which controls menstruation. The hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis (HPG axis) refers to the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and gonadal glands as a single entity. 

The HPG axis plays a prominent role in the reproductive and immune systems, and any fluctuations can cause changes in the hormones produced by them.

Long hours of travel may confuse the body clock, throwing menstruation and ovulation off balance. So, you may get periods late or may miss them altogether in a particular month. 

2. Stress

Stress is the most common cause of irregular periods. Both physical and mental stress can delay periods. 

When you are stressed at home, at work, or in other areas of your life, it can affect the hypothalamus, the part of your brain responsible for producing hormones that control your period. 

3. Increased Exercise

Exercise can be great for both your mind and body when done regularly. But, excessive or vigorous exercise could lead to lower levels of estrogen, the hormone responsible for regulating the female reproductive process. 

This may lead to secondary amenorrhea (absence of three or more periods in a row).

4. Extreme Weight Fluctuation

Sudden and extreme weight loss and gain may make your cycles irregular. Being underweight will prevent the production of an adequate amount of hormones to maintain your cycles.

In overweight women, excess fat will result in the overproduction of estrogen. This may cause unchecked endometrial growth (thickening of the uterus lining), resulting in infrequent or heavy periods.

5. Hormonal Birth Control Pills

While birth control pills usually make cycles regular, in some women it may lead to irregularity. Emergency birth control contains high-dose progesterone (a female sex hormone),  which disrupts the body's natural hormone balance.

However, in both cases, the body will re-adjust gradually and cycles should be back to normal in 1 to 2 months.

6. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is an extremely common disorder in today's age. It causes loss of regulation of progesterone and estrogen (female sex hormones) production, resulting in irregular periods, unwanted body hair,  and insulin resistance.

If left untreated, it can cause fertility problems or even diabetes and hypertension in the long run. 

7. Thyroid Disorders

Both hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) are seen to make cycles irregular. The thyroid gland is responsible for regulating the body's metabolism. 

Any changes outside the normal function will affect the hormone balance and in turn, cause delayed cycles. If you notice sudden weight gain or loss, skin changes, or intolerance to heat/cold, remember that your thyroid gland could be the cause.

8. Early Peri-Menopause

In most women, menopause occurs between the age of 45 to 55. When a woman starts experiencing menopausal symptoms like irregular periods, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, chills, night sweats, sleep problems, or mood changes, it is called early peri-menopause.

This means your egg supply is getting over, which may result in missed periods, and gradually your menstruation might stop.

When To See A Doctor?

A delayed period once in a while is usually due to temporary hormone imbalance and does not need treatment. However, visit your gynaecologist without delay if:

  • You have continuous or irregular periods frequently.

  • You notice sudden changes in your weight.

  • You miss three or more periods a year.

  • You bleed more heavily than usual or for more than 7 days at once.

  • You have extreme pain during a period.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.