10 Reasons Your Period Might be Late

10 Reasons Your Period Might be Late
May 13, 2014 4:49 AM

Is your menstrual period late? You might be wondering the reason behind it. Don’t panic. Take a deep breath. This article will tell you about the top 10 reasons why your period might be late. Before going into the ten reasons, it is important for you to know that a woman’s menstrual period is influenced by countless factors.

For instance, pregnancy can affect the menstrual period or slight excess or drop of weight can also affect the menstrual period. Other reasons are mentioned below.

Top ten reasons why your period may be late


One of the most likely reasons for a missed period is pregnancy. Before we can go into detail to how pregnancy might cause delay or missed periods, we need to know some basics here. The normal menstrual cycle is under the influence of body hormone, most importantly estrogen and progesterone.

Estrogen builds up the lining of uterus and progesterone prepares the lining of uterus for conception of embryo. During menstruation there is a drop in the level of progesterone followed by drop in the level of estrogen. This initiates the breakdown of endometirum (inner most layer of uterus) and bleeding. Now that you know the basics, we move on to know what happens in pregnancy. The main purpose of female body is to prepare uterus for conception.

That’s why estrogen and progesterone levels raised fat beyond normal and don’t decrease as occurs in normal menstrual cycle. This is what enables the uterus to support the growing baby. So if your periods are late and you’ve had unprotected sex in the last few days or weeks then the first thing that you must think of is pregnancy.

Excess of Weight

Excess of weight can be another reason for late menstrual period as being overweight can create a disruption in the menstrual cycle. Carrying too much weight can shift and alter the hormonal cycle in the body and may even stop it. The ovaries in the body produce estrogen. However, body fat is also a source of estrogen. So the relation between estrogen and weight is simple. If a woman has low body fat in her body, she will produce less estrogen.

On the other hand, if she is overweight, she will produce too much estrogen. The estrogen and progesterone present in the body work together for the maintenance of a healthy menstrual cycle. As mentioned above it’s the decrease in the amount of estrogen that triggers normal menstrual cycle.

So if your body is producing too much estrogen, the result would be delayed menstrual cycle. Now the question arises that what should a woman do in such situation. You don’t have to lose a considerable amount of weight to get your period right. However what you need to do is to put your weight back with normal BMI (body mass index whose normal value is 19-24).

So the first thing you should do is change your diet plan. Cut out meat and sugar from your diet as much as you can. This will create a huge difference. Along with diet, you will also need to do some exercise on daily basis. Even if you don’t feel fit and feel like not exercising, you should start from a little pace like walking down a block for 5 to 10 minutes. You can also hit the gym and do some light weight exercises. If you do these small little things daily, then hopefully your weight will come back to normal and your menstrual cycles will also become normal.

Being Underweight

Being underweight can be another reason for late menstrual periods. When a female is underweight, there aren’t enough fat (or even overall body cell) cells in the body to produce estrogen which results in missed or no period at all. In this case, the best option for a person is to put on more weight in a healthy manner or else there could be other health consequences. Other than being underweight, eating disorders can also create problems with menstrual periods.

Studies have shown that an eating disorder called anorexia nervosa can cause missed periods. In general any kind of eating disorder can create problem with menstrual periods. We’ve mentioned eating disorders here because such eating disorders are most common underweight females. In fact these eating disorders are the reason for the females being underweight.

Missed Period Due to Ovarian Cancer

Some researches have also indicated the fact that missed periods might be due to ovarian cancer. Now the question is that what is ovarian cancer? It is a cancerous growth which arises from the ovary. The major symptoms of this disease include pelvic pain, difficulty in eating and frequent urination, bloating.

Furthermore, it is believed that most of the ovarian cancers arise from the surface of the ovary. However, evidences also point towards the fact that fallopian tube (tubes lined with ciliated epithelia leading from the ovaries into the uterus) may also be the source of ovarian cancer.

Different studies have shown the relation between ovarian cancer and late periods. The reason being ovary is the most important source of estrogen in your body. If the ovary is growing abnormally then the levels of estrogen will also go sky high leading to delay in menstrual periods. So if you are suffering from the above mentioned symptoms of ovarian cancers, it is best that you get yourself diagnosed as soon as possible for normal menstrual periods.

A Lot Of Exercise

Exercising too much can also be a cause of late or missed menstrual period. Extreme physical activity puts stress on the body which can delay the menstrual cycle of the body which causes a late or missed menstrual period. This is especially true for endurance athletes who sometimes stop having a period even with a healthy body. The reason is that exercise puts lots of pressure and stress on a woman’s body. In such a case, the body stops menstruating as a way to conserve energy.

Exercise can also cause extremely low body fat. In the absence of body fat, as already mentioned, a woman’s body can’t produce enough estrogen which causes late menstrual periods.


Stress can affect the life in a variety of ways, one of which involves late or missed periods. Stress in the body decreases the amount of a hormone (GnRH) which causes a female not to ovulate or menstruate. Stress around the time you ovulate makes your periods late. Worrying about this can still worsen matters and make your period late a day or more. Other than stress, change in the daily schedule over and over again can also lead to late menstrual periods.

For example if you start a new job; change your wake up time; change your regular routine; all these things can act together and can cause unrest in the body, which in turn can lead to late menstrual periods. What can do to get rid of stress? Well, all you need to do is take out few minutes from your busy schedule and sit down in a corner of your room.

Close down your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. Feels as if all positive thoughts and emotions are filling you with each puff of air of breathe in. Similarly feel as if all the negative thoughts and tensions are leaving your body with each out breath.

Missed Period Due to Hysterectomy

Many women go through hysterectomy for various gynecological reasons, the most important of which is any cancer of uterus. Now the question arises: what is hysterectomy? It is a surgical removal of the uterus. It may also involve the removal of other parts like ovaries, cervix, fallopian tubes and other surrounding structures. It is usually performed by a gynecologist. It can be of two types.

It can either be what can be called as total hysterectomy, where both uterus and cervix are removed or it can be subtotal where the major part of the uterus is removed while the cervix is remained untouched. In the case of subtotal hysterectomy, regular cervical screening by smears should be continued.

During hysterectomy, the ovaries may be conserved or removed. If the ovaries are conserved, three scenarios can occur.

  • The ovaries continue to produce hormones in the same manner as before till the normal age of menopause (51 years). The hormone production can cause the symptoms of “premenstrual syndrome (PMS), even in absence of periods.
  • After a hysterectomy, the ovaries may stop producing hormones sooner than expected. This happens within one to two years of hysterectomy when the symptoms of estrogen deficiency are apparent.
  • Sometimes the ovaries may fail but the falling estrogen level may not be the sign of estrogen deficiency. Therefore, most doctors recommend following a hysterectomy with one or both ovaries conserved till the age of 45.

In case of total hysterectomy, there are no period afterwards. But in case of subtotal hysterectomy, remains of cervix are present in the body which can cause bleeding after a hysterectomy. The amount of bleeding depends upon how much cervical tissue is left behind.

Since the hysterectomy process removes a female’s ability to get pregnant, different emotional feeling are related to it. For instance, after hysterectomy, you may feel improved mood and a sense of wellbeing. A person may also feel relieved that you will no longer feel signs of heavy bleeding and pelvic pain. Most women don’t have any change in sexual function after hysterectomy. However, for some women, heightened sexual satisfaction occurs after hysterectomy. One of the reasons may be that they no longer have the fear of becoming pregnant.

But this is only one side of the picture. Some women feel a sense of loss and grief or depression after hysterectomy. Women especially younger ones, experience depression related to the loss of fertility as they can no longer get pregnant.


Illness can be another factor affecting the menstrual period. The illness, whether sudden; short or long, can cause your period to be delayed. In case you are sick during the time of ovulation, it may delay ovulation or keep you from ovulation. So if you think that it is the probable reason that is causing a delay in your menstrual period, talk to doctor and seek help.

There is a long list of diseases that can cause delaying of menstrual periods ranging from things as simple as fever to life threatening conditions as HIV. During illness, a new medication can also lead to a late period. Some corticosteroids, anti-depressants, and chemotherapy drugs can cause a delayed or missed period. So if you are seeing side effects due to the medications you are taking, be sure informing your doctor immediately. In case the doctor changes your medications, be sure to ask him what side effects it will have on your periods.


The length of a typical menstrual period is 28 days. A normal person has a period after every 28 days. However, it is only a perception. It isn’t true for every one and can vary from woman to woman. Moreover a regular cycle is no guarantee that the period will come exactly at the expected time.

The time of ovulation can vary from month to month. So there is a possibility that in this month you ovulated a little later than you normally do and that your period is not actually late. Moreover, if you don’t keep track of your previous periods, it is easy to miscalculate the time to expect the next one.

Some Other Reasons

Other than the above mentioned reasons, some other reasons for late menstrual period are mentioned below:

  • It is common for women with thyroid disorders to have issues with menstrual cycles. Doctors, still to this day, aren’t clear as to why thyroid causes problems are related with menstrual cycles. Women with thyroid disorders have a weaker ovulation as compared to a healthy woman. In general, anything which interferes with normal ovulation can cause the period to be late or irregular.
  • Menopause is a natural life event. It is the point in life where a person is no longer able to ovulate or menstruate. Although it is natural, it can also happen surgically through hysterectomy or other types of chemotherapy.
  • Women with hormone imbalances have more changes in their menstrual periods than healthy women. For instance females with pituitary diseases are most prone to develop menstrual abnormalities too because pituitary hormones control normal menstrual cycle in females.
  • Delay of normal menstrual bleeding can be the result of lack of sleep. If you’re in the habit of staying up late at night then you’re more likely to suffer from abnormalities of menstrual blood flow.

Get Help – Get A Happy Life

This article has listed some major reason as to why your period might be late. So if your think your late menstrual period is due to any of the above mentioned reasons, you should seek help as quickly as possible. Because the sooner you will get yourself healed, the sooner you will get a happy life.

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Written by: Michal Vilímovský (EN)
Education: Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Published: May 13, 2014 4:49 AM
Next scheduled update: May 13, 2016 4:49 AM
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