Late periods can prove quite distressing, especially for women who are apprehensive about an unexpected pregnancy or used to having regular periods. But why do periods come late, and when is the right time to consult a medical specialist?
Let's uncover the answers.
How Much Delay is Okay In Periods?
Late periods may occur for several reasons other than pregnancy, with the most typical causes ranging from serious underlying medical conditions to hormonal disturbances. Your periods may also be irregular during menarche or menopause: when your period starts and when it ends.
People who have not yet reached menopause typically have periods in a 28-day cycle. However, normal and healthy menstrual cycles can range from 21 to 40 days. Therefore, that much delay in periods is considered normal and does not require medical attention.
Causes For Late Periods
If your menstrual cycle does not follow the 21 to 40-day cycle, there might be several reasons why your period doesn't fall within the normal range. Some of these are as follows:
Prolonged periods of stress can greatly affect a menstrual cycle, rendering it longer or shorter or even resulting in a missed period. Stress may also make period cramps more painful.
You can prevent stress from affecting your menstrual cycle by getting enough sleep, avoiding situations that may increase your stress rate, following a regular exercise regime, and performing some stress-relieving exercises.
However, it is best to consult a medical specialist if you are experiencing chronic stress, as they can help you determine the most effective coping mechanisms.
The typical onset of menopause is the age of 52, but it may vary in different cases. Menopause refers to when a woman has not had her period for at least 12 months. However, women may begin experiencing the symptoms of menopause 10 to 15 years before its onset.
Medically termed perimenopause hints at fluctuating estrogen levels in the body, affecting normal menstrual cycles. It is common for women to experience missed or irregular periods in perimenopause.
Intense exercise or dramatic weight loss can cause a missed or delayed period. Low body fat or being underweight can affect reproductive hormonal levels, decreasing them to a point where menstruation and ovulation do not occur.
It is crucial to consult with a medical professional if you have undergone dramatic weight loss and have missed one or more than one period(s). A medical professional or dietician may recommend the appropriate amount of minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients your body may be deficient in.
Just as weight loss can affect a woman's menstrual cycle, being overweight can also cause a missed period. Missed periods and obesity may hint at an underlying medical condition, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This makes correct diagnosis pivotal for treatment.
A medical professional may recommend an ultrasound or blood tests to evaluate the ovaries and ensure that no underlying chronic conditions are causing missed or delayed periods.
Certain birth control pills can also interfere with the normal menstrual cycle and result in irregular or missed periods. Certain birth control methods, particularly hormonal methods, include the intake of estrogen combined with progesterone for a particular period of time, followed by a certain period of hormone-free days.
This hormone withdrawal can trigger a period. However, in certain cases, these hormones can render the uterus lining so thin that there does not remain enough to trigger a period.
All kinds of birth control options can trigger this condition, including hormonal birth control, rings, pills, implants, patches, and shots. Although delayed periods because of birth control are generally not dangerous, it is advisable to consult a medical professional in time to detect any underlying conditions.
Certain hormones, such as thyroid or prolactin, may cause delayed periods. Particular blood tests can easily detect such hormonal disturbances, but their causes must be determined by a medical professional.
Hormonal disruptions may have several causes: they may run in families or may be caused by more serious underlying conditions, such as brain tumors. Fortunately, hormonal disturbances are treatable through medications in most cases.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is one of the most typical hormonal disorders affecting women of childbearing age. Symptoms of PCOS tend to vary between women but typically entail abnormal hormonal levels that cause tiny cysts to develop in the ovaries.
Other symptoms of this condition may include male-pattern baldness, acne, obesity, excess facial and body hair, and irregular or missed periods. It is crucial for women with this disorder to consult with a medical professional and get proper treatment, as the prolonged absence of periods in childbearing age can result in endometrial cancer.
Women should not completely rule out the possibility of pregnancy as the primary reason behind their late period, even when using contraception. It is possible to get pregnant even after using birth control correctly.
It is advisable to use a home pregnancy test if you are sexually active and have missed a period, as no forms of birth control guarantee 100% effectiveness. If you are pregnant, you should seek prenatal care immediately. If your home pregnancy test gives a negative result even after a missed period, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
When To See A Doctor
It is advisable to consult a medical professional if your period is continuously late or irregular, as there may be multiple underlying causes and conditions that may contribute to your menstrual cycle.
A proper diagnosis can help you look into different treatment options and ensure your health. You can also record your menstrual cycle to aid your doctor in the process. In case you have any of the following symptoms, contact a medical professional immediately:
- Severe pain
- Unusually heavy bleeding
- Bleeding that continues after seven days
- Vomiting and nausea
- Bleeding after you have reached menopause and haven't had a period for 12 months
With American-board-certified and specialist-trained professionals, Cura4U is the right fit for you if you want to consult a medical professional about your menstrual cycle! Head over to Cura4U to learn more.