Anxious about a missed or late period? Don’t panic. There are plenty of normal reasons for a late period that have nothing to do with being pregnant. And even if you’ve had a negative pregnancy test, you may still be wondering, “Why is my period late?” Consider this:
Did you know that using your last period to predict when your next period will begin isn’t the most accurate strategy? Actually, your period’s arrival is best predicted by when you ovulate. (Ovulation is when your ovary releases an egg. In a typical cycle, this happens once a month.) This means that if ovulation is delayed, your period will likely be “late” too. So what can cause delayed ovulation?
Your reproductive cycle is a delicate process, so it’s not surprising to discover that a lot of things can throw off ovulation (and consequently your period).
Five reasons for a late period (that aren’t pregnancy)
1. Change in Sleeping Habits
What if I told you that something as simple as sleeping in the presence of too much light can impact your cycle? It may sound crazy, but the hormones that affect your cycle are also affected by your circadian rhythm, or your internal clock. So anything that affects the quality of your sleep can influence your internal clock and alter your cycle.
- Have your sleeping habits changed?
- Did you recently travel?
- Switch shifts at work or pull some all-nighters?
All of these can be reasons for a late period. Anything that throws off your “clock” can potentially delay ovulation.
Whenever you experience intense or prolonged stress, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. This means that, in order to conserve energy, your body shuts down systems that it decides are unnecessary for survival. Your reproductive system is included in that list. As a result, intense or prolonged stress can result in a missed or late period.
- Have you recently experienced emotional stress?
- Had conflict with someone close to you?
- Had an important test, a big event, or an important decision to make?
- Are there any factors or relationships at work, school, or home that could be causing stress?
Illness is a type of physical stress. Being sick, even with a simple cold, can send your body into the same fight-or-flight mode mentioned above. And this can delay or prevent ovulation from happening.
- Have you experienced symptoms of illness since your last period?
4. Excessive Exercise or Dieting
Did you know that your hormones are built from the nutrients you take in through your diet? Excessive exercise, insufficient calorie intake, or improper nutrition can limit the nutrients available for building these hormones. This includes reproductive hormones like estrogen, which plays a crucial role in your menstrual cycle. If your body doesn’t produce enough estrogen, you won’t ovulate, and you may not have a period.
- Have you been working out more than normal?
- Have your eating habits significantly changed?
- Did you recently lose weight?
Certain medications can also interrupt your body’s reproductive cycle. Changes in medications like: hormonal birth control, antidepressants, corticosteroids (commonly used for asthma, bronchitis, or allergic or inflammatory conditions), and others can cause ovulation and your period to be delayed or absent.
- Have your medications changed recently?
- Or have you missed doses of any regularly taken medications?
Want to relieve the stress of late periods?
Did you know it’s possible to know if and when you’ve ovulated? Knowing when you ovulate can help you better predict your period and can help relieve the stress of a “late” period, giving you the peace of mind that comes from knowing.
If you’re interested in learning how to determine when you’ve ovulated, or if you’d just like to learn more about what’s normal in your cycle, give us a call at 734-994-8863, or email us at [email protected] We believe that all women should have access to empowering healthcare, so our fertility education (FEMM) program is completely free. You can take the three sessions one-on-one or with friends. It’s up to you! ArborWoman currently offers the fertility education component of FEMM; if medical concerns arise, we refer out to FEMM-trained physicians. If FEMM is right for you, contact us today!