When your period doesn't arrive on time, it can sometimes lead to worry. Why is it late? What does this mean?
Of course the most obvious possibility (and the one that friends and family like to pounce on), is that you might be pregnant. However, there are many other reasons your period might be late. To help you figure out why your cycle suddenly seems off schedule, we're listing some of the most common reasons for a late or missing period.
Stress is often the culprit for a late menstrual cycle. Stress can change the way a healthy body operates on nearly every level, and extreme or ongoing stress can lead to late periods in women and girls. If you think your stress level may be contributing to late or unpredictable menstrual cycles, talk to your doctor about finding ways to reduce your anxiety.
Often times young or teen-aged girls will experience irregular cycles. This may manifest in your period being late or sometimes skipping a month entirely. In most younger girls, this is relatively normal and not the sign of a serious condition.
Sudden increase or drop in weight
Dramatic changes in weight affect the body's hormonal cycle, which can in turn affect when your period arrives – or if it arrives at all. Because the female body needs to have a minimum BMI in order to menstruate, extremely thin women will sometimes stop having their period altogether until their health is restored.
Starting a new medication can sometimes have an impact (foreseen or unforeseen) on your menstrual cycle. Always report any such changes to your doctor, as it may be a sign of something serious or even dangerous. However, often the body will re-adjust itself in a month or two if there's nothing wrong.
Late, missed, or irregular periods can all be signs of a developing thyroid problem (namely hypothyroidism), and should be reported to your healthcare provider.
PCOS or other reproductive disorders
In some cases, a late period could be a symptom of an underlying reproductive disorder such as Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), or a more generalized hormonal imbalance.
Of course, pregnancy is one of the common causes for a late period, as menstruation ceases when a woman becomes pregnant.
While most women experience menopause around age 50, early menopause can start at any time before age 40. Some women begin this process as early as 30 years old, so even if you think you're far too young for menopause, if your period is significantly late, ask your doctor if this could be the reason.
Often, a late period isn't a cause for major concern. However, if you think you might be pregnant, it's important to rule that out as a possibility by performing a pregnancy test. If your period doesn't go back to a regular pattern after a month or two, even if you have no other symptoms you should talk to a doctor.