Why Is Your Period Late? 8 Possible Causes, Other Than Menopause And Pregnancy

Date April 19, 2018 12:05

Almost every woman has had a late or missed period at least once in her life. Irregular periods are common in teenage girls who have just started menstruating, and in this case, the menstrual cycle eventually stabilizes on its own. A missing period is also a way to know that you are pregnant. And, lastly, late or missing periods can be a sign that you are entering menopause. Menopause usually starts between the ages of 45 and 55, although it's possible to reach menopause before age 40 (this is known as premature menopause). Premature menopause can result from chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgical removal of the ovaries, but some women are simply predisposed to it genetically.

There are other causes of missed or late periods, apart from pregnancy, menopause, or having just started to menstruate. Below, we list eight of them.

READ ALSO: 5 Ways To Reduce Menstrual Pain And How To Have A Less Uncomfortable Period

8 possible causes of missed or late periods

If you aren't pregnant or menopausal, the cause of your missed or late periods may be one of the following:

1. Stress

It's common for women who are too stressed to miss periods or get them later than they usually do. Stress affects the hypothalamus, the area of the brain which regulates hormones responsible for your menstrual cycle. So if you have experienced a stressful event recently, or if there have been some major changes in your life, such as moving to a different city or starting to work night shifts, the resulting stress may have led to your irregular periods.

2. Extreme weight loss

Losing a lot of weight over a short period of time through extreme dieting or extreme exercise can shut down your reproductive system. To get your normal menstrual cycle back, you'll need to reach a normal BMI. Consult a registered dietitian to gain some weight back in a healthy way.

3. Obesity

Being obese, especially carrying most of the extra pounds around the waist, can wreak havoc on your hormones, including those regulating your menstrual cycle. A certified dietitian can help you lose weight gradually, and your menstrual cycle will get back to normal.

4. Eating disorders

If you have an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia, your body isn't getting the nutrients it needs to function normally, and that can lead to missed periods. If you think you have an eating disorder, talk to your doctor, and he or she may refer you to a mental health professional who specializes in treating eating disorders.

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5. Thyroid disorders

The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism, and they interact with hormones that regulate your periods. Both underactive and overactive thyroid can cause your periods to start late or even stop completely. If you have other symptoms that suggest a thyroid disorder, discuss the issue with your doctor.

6. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome have high levels of androgens (male hormones) and symptoms that include irregular periods. Women with PCOS may get infrequent but heavy periods or, rarely, no periods at all. Another common symptom of PCOS is male-pattern hair growth. It's estimated that 1 in 10 women have PCOS, and if you think you may be one of these women, talk to your doctor. PCOS can be treated with hormone therapy.

7. Using oral contraceptives

Some women who are taking oral contraceptives report reduced menstrual pain and less heavy periods. But birth control pills may also cause periods to become irregular. If you think your periods are missing or late because of contraceptive pills, talk to your gynecologist about birth control methods that don't interfere with your menstrual cycle.

8. Certain chronic diseases

Rarely, missed or late periods may be caused by celiac disease, poorly controlled diabetes, liver disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and other chronic health conditions. If you have one of these conditions, it may be causing your menstrual irregularities.

When to see your doctor

Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you have the following symptoms:

Source: NHS UK, WebMD, HealthLine

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This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.