A late period can cause panic and anxiety. While pregnancy can be a cause, there are other medical reasons to be concerned, whether you are trying to get pregnant, not sexually active, or have a female partner. But before you jump to conclusions and assume the worst, take a deep breath and consider that there could be other factors at play.
Today, we’ll explore the possible causes for a late period that aren’t pregnancy-related.
Stress is a significant factor that can affect your menstrual cycle. When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that can interfere with the release of other hormones responsible for regulating your period. High stress levels can cause an imbalance in these hormones, leading to a late or missed period. If you suspect stress is the cause, try incorporating stress-reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, or journaling into your daily routine.
2. Weight Fluctuations
Sudden weight gain or loss can impact your menstrual cycle, as your body needs a certain amount of body fat to produce hormones that regulate your period. Losing a significant amount of weight in a short period or being underweight can cause your body to stop producing these hormones, resulting in irregular periods or missed periods altogether. On the other hand, being overweight can cause hormonal imbalances, leading to irregular periods as well. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise is essential for a regular menstrual cycle.
3. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. It causes small cysts to form on the ovaries, leading to hormonal imbalances that can result in irregular periods. If you have other symptoms of PCOS, such as excessive hair growth, acne, or weight gain, it’s essential to consult your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
4. Thyroid Issues
Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that regulates your metabolism. An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause hormonal imbalances that impact your menstrual cycle. If you suspect thyroid issues might be causing your late period, consult your healthcare provider for an evaluation and appropriate treatment.
5. Birth Control Changes
Starting or stopping hormonal birth control can impact your menstrual cycle. It’s common for your body to take some time to adjust to the new hormone levels, which can lead to a late period. Similarly, if you’ve recently stopped using hormonal birth control, it might take a few months for your body to re-establish its natural hormonal balance and regular menstrual cycle.
Intense physical activity can affect your menstrual cycle, especially if you’re not consuming enough calories to support your energy expenditure. Over-exercising can cause a decrease in body fat, leading to hormonal imbalances that result in irregular or missed periods. Ensure you’re eating a balanced diet and getting enough rest to support your training regimen to maintain a healthy menstrual cycle.
A recent illness or infection can also cause a late period. When your body is fighting off an infection, it can divert resources away from reproductive functions, resulting in a temporary delay in your menstrual cycle. Once your body has recovered, your period should return to its regular schedule.
If you’re experiencing a late period and are confident that pregnancy isn’t the cause, consider these factors that could be impacting your menstrual cycle. Remember that it’s always essential to consult a healthcare provider to discuss any concerns or changes in your menstrual cycle, as some issues may require medical intervention. Regular check-ups and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help ensure a regular and healthy menstrual cycle!
Barbara A. Hessel, MD. FACOG is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist offering the services patients need to maintain good health at all times. If you are looking for an in-office or online telemedicine consultation, schedule an appointment with us today.