Though pregnancy is the most common reason for missed or late periods, several other lifestyles or medical factors can cause period delay. For example, while some women may experience delay up to a couple of months, several may experience amenorrhea that causes a delay in menstruation for three or more months.
If you’re worried about the period delay but know that you’re not pregnant, let’s look at possible causes that may affect your menstrual cycle.
Common Causes for Possible Period Delay
1. Your Birth Control
Some types of birth control, such as IUDs (Intrauterine Devices) and the Depo-Provera Shot, can cause irregularities or period delay. And if you’re on birth control pills, then your menstrual cycle may become longer depending on whether or not you choose extended-cycle pills. Moreover, different types of contraceptive pills suit different hormone levels. One or more of these reasons can cause late periods in women.
Therefore, it is best to understand your body with the help of a certified and experienced medical professional. This would ensure that you take only the birth control pills or select any other contraceptive method that best suits your body.
Excessive stress affects the production of a hormone known as gonadotropin, which regulates the ovulation and menstrual cycle. Therefore, both psychological and physical stress can cause a late period. But this may be possible only when the stress level is too high and continues for an extended period.
If you’re suffering from problems such as depression or anxiety, you must consult a counselor who can help you uncover the root cause and suggest ways to bring down the stress levels. It may take a few cycles for your period to become regular again.
When you reach a period where you no longer menstruate, it is called Menopause. And the period of transition from reproductive to non-reproductive age is called Perimenopause. You may experience less frequent, more frequent, lighter, or heavier periods in this phase. Therefore, your menstrual cycle would most likely be more unusual than it used to be. This is one of the common reasons for the period delay in women above 45. Early Menopause can also cause a late period.
Breastfeeding may sometimes cause infrequent periods, light periods, or even amenorrhea. This is more common if the baby gets all or almost all of its calories from the mother.
It must be noted that many women think that not getting periods when breastfeeding is entirely normal. But you can still get pregnant when breastfeeding. So, if you’re experiencing missed periods and are breastfeeding, make sure to get checked for pregnancy.
5. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Each ovary develops around five follicles during a menstrual cycle, each of which competes to become the one that releases a mature egg at ovulation. But with the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, ovaries develop additional follicles. This makes the process longer, causing a delay in releasing a mature egg, hence a delay in periods.
Though other PCOS symptoms include hair growth and weight gain, women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome may still have excessive follicles without showing these symptoms.
An overactive or underactive thyroid gland can be the reason for missed or delayed periods. The thyroid gland regulates the body’s metabolism, which may also cause hormonal changes or hormonal irregularities. This eventually leads to an irregular menstrual cycle.
The thyroid is usually treated with medication. Your periods may return to normal quickly after the treatment.
7. Excessive Exercise
When you put too much pressure on your body with excessive exercise, it may bring some changes to the pituitary and thyroid hormones. This can impact ovulation and menstruation. Therefore, it is recommended not to work out for more than an hour or two a day.
If you’re planning weight training or working out excessively, then it is best to consult a sports healthcare provider. They would help you optimize your diet with nutritious foods, teach techniques to reduce physical stress, and ensure that your hormones and body nutrients remain balanced.
8. Changed Schedule
Any schedule changes, such as switching between day and night work shifts or frequent jet lags, can throw your body clock off and make your periods unpredictable. Though a changed schedule would not lead to wholly missed periods, it can undoubtedly cause period delay. So, if this is causing changes in your menstrual cycle, you must work on fixing your schedule.
9. Low body weight
Ladies with dietary problems, for example, anorexia nervosa or bulimia, may encounter missed periods. Weighing 10% beneath a typical reach for your tallness can alter how your body capacities and stop ovulation. Seeking treatment for your dietary problem and solidly gaining weight can return your cycle to ordinary.
What to do in case of period delays?
Missing periods once in a while are not a matter of concern. But if period delay prolongs, you should see a healthcare provider. Moreover, check if these symptoms accompany your period:
- Hair loss;
- Excess hair growth;
- Vision changes;
- Frequent and worsening headaches;
- Nausea or vomiting;
- Breast discharge or milk production.
If you notice one or more of these symptoms, consider getting checked by your doctor. Though most causes are not alarming, it is best to consult an expert and rule out any problems early on.