We are all aware of the most prominent reason why a woman’s period is late: a pregnancy. However, did you know that this is not the only reason? There are a number of sources for a delayed or even missed period. It is important to rule out a pregnancy of course, but this does not mean that you should also forget to mention missed or late periods to your gynecologist during your next annual well-woman exam. It is possible that there is a medical reason for period irregularity, one that could require treatment in order to both improve a patient’s quality of life and fertility – if family planning is the desired path forward.
Potential reasons why your period is late (or missed)
- Stress – Elevated stress levels can contribute to changes in menstruation, especially if the stress continues for a prolonged amount of time.
- New medication or a changed dosage – Certain medications can change your period, so it’s always important to discuss the effects of medication with your primary care provider when starting something new so you can be prepared.
- Strenuous exercise – Intense exercise routines can alter your hormone levels, and your body may not receive its usual signals to start your cycle.
- Changing time zones – If you’re recently traveled long-distance, it’s possible that this is the reason why your period is late or missed. This type of change can disrupt your sleep schedule and menstrual cycle.
- Perimenopause – In early menopause, periods can begin to occur infrequently before stopping altogether. This will of course depend on your age and other lifestyle factors. For example, some cancer treatments can result in a woman becoming perimenopausal.
- Thyroid issues – The thyroid produces hormones that are associated with menstruation. If there is an imbalance occurring, it will affect your cycle.
- Weight loss/gain – If you have recently lost or gained a substantial amount of weight, there could be an underlying health issue at play, which is in turn, impacting your period.
- Breastfeeding – Women who breastfeed may find that their period can fluctuate greatly or not truly return until they stop nursing. This is normal, and only of concern if your period still does not return after you stop nursing.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – This is a condition that causes the female body to process an excess of androgen, a male hormone. The result is an imbalance in female hormones which can cause a period to fluctuate or even cease altogether.
- Chronic disease – Some chronic diseases can also impact the body’s hormones, which impact your period. Examples of this include diabetes and celiac disease.
If you would like to discuss any concerns about your period with your gynecologist and you do not already have an upcoming annual exam scheduled, we would recommend booking an appointment.