Late periods: what causes them?

From adolescence to menopause, menstruation is a regular part of a woman's life. They are often accompanied by pain, fatigue and mood swings. But when they're absent, it's cause for concern. Are you wondering about delayed periods? Elia Lingerie answers all your questions.

What is delayed menstruation?

Before talking about late periods, it's important to understand the menstrual cycle. It begins on the first day of menstruation and ends at the start of the next period. The average period lasts 28 days. However, it varies from woman to woman, depending on age and lifestyle. A menstrual cycle can last from 21 to 45 days, with no cause for concern. To find out if you're suffering from delayed menstruation, you need to take into account the normal length of your cycle, then ask yourself questions after 3 to 5 days of delay. If your cycles are irregular (i.e. they don't always last the same length of time), we'll call your period late one week after the estimated arrival date.

What causes late periods?

There are many possible reasons for a hormonal imbalance:

Physiological and biological changes

If your period is late, the first thing to consider is a hormonal cause. This may be due to pre-menopause or menopause. The latter occurs on average between the ages of 45 and 55. However, some women experience an early menopause. A change or omission of contraception can also explain a delay or even cessation of periods. If you've just switched to a progesterone-only contraceptive, it's quite possible to experience delayed periods on the pill. The same applies to intrauterine systems or injections. When the delay turns into an absence of periods (amenorrhea), it may be due to an overactive thyroid, diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome.

Stress or post-traumatic shock

Stress influences every sphere of our lives, so it's only natural that it should cause your period to be delayed by 2 or 5 days. Professional pressure, the death of a loved one, family problems or financial difficulties are all emotional shocks that can disrupt your cycles. How many days can stress delay your period? Well, that depends on the situation, but also on your ability to get back to a serene daily routine.

To prevent the effects of stress on your cycle, learn to take time for yourself. Regular meditation sessions or a sporting activity will help you take the pressure off. Don't hesitate to share your worries with friends and family to relieve some of your torment or find comfort.

Change your lifestyle

If you've just gained weight, your body may start to produce estrogen in large quantities, disrupting your menstrual cycle. Similarly, sudden weight loss may cause your body to reduce or even stop the production of hormones involved in ovulation. When the pace of your sports training increases to become more intense, your period can also be disrupted. Finally, breastfeeding also has an influence on the menstrual cycle. It can cause your period to be delayed or even absent.

The beginning of pregnancy

It's impossible to discuss the causes of delayed periods without mentioning pregnancy. For women with regular sexual activity, this is the first possibility to consider. A pregnancy test will help you rule out this possibility. Symptoms of early pregnancy may include

  • tender breasts
  • Fatigue ;
  • Morning sickness;
  • frequent urination.

Does a late period mean you're pregnant?

In the collective imagination, a late period is always caused by pregnancy. But that's not the only reason. In fact, it's quite possible that your interpretation of a late period is simply the result of a natural variation in your cycle. For example, a period delay of 5 days or less is likely to be a common physiological development.

How do I manage an irregular menstrual cycle?

We speak of irregular cycles, but not of late periods, when their duration varies perpetually without explanation. These variations are common. Even so, they can cause concern. To better manage irregular cycles, get into the habit of noting the duration of each one. After a few months, you'll have a better idea of the average length of your cycle, so you can plan your activities accordingly. You'll then be able to relax when your periods are late. If the irregularity of your cycles bothers you, talk to your gynecologist. He'll help you understand the delay. He or she will then be able to determine the cause and prescribe a progestin-only pill to help you resume regular periods.

What to do if your period is late?

Have you noticed a delay in your period? Here's what to do, depending on the situation:

Periods 1 to 2 days late

There's nothing to be alarmed about if your cycle varies between 24 and 48 hours. Even if you've had unprotected intercourse or defective protection, this doesn't necessarily mean you're pregnant. It's also possible to have a delayed period on the pill because you've forgotten to take it.

Delayed periods of 3 to 5 days

This can always be due to a slightly delayed ovulation. To find out if you're pregnant, it's advisable to wait until your period is 5 days late before taking a test. Only a blood test can give you a definitive answer.

Menstrual delay of 1 week

Make an appointment with your doctor to obtain a prescription for a blood test to check whether you are pregnant. If you haven't had any recent sexual activity, ask yourself about any changes that may have affected your cycle.

Periods more than 1 week late

At this stage, you've already had to decide whether or not you're pregnant. If nothing has changed in your life, but you're still concerned, make an appointment to see your doctor or gynaecologist. If a delayed period is usually harmless after one month of amenorrhea, you should still consult a professional.

Delayed period FAQ

Why is my period late?

Delayed periods on the pill or without contraception can be caused by a number of factors: pregnancy, stress, thyroid disorders or polycystic ovary syndrome. There are many possible causes, so it's best to consult a doctor for a full medical check-up.

Is it possible to miss a period without becoming pregnant?

It's perfectly possible to miss a period without becoming pregnant. To be sure, wait until your period is 5 days late before taking a pregnancy test. If things don't work out despite a negative test, ask your doctor for a prescription for a blood test. This will ensure a reliable result.

Is it normal not to have a period for a month?

Apart from pregnancy, the only normal reasons for not having your period for a month are breastfeeding or approaching menopause. If you experience amenorrhea for such a long time, consult your doctor, as it may indicate severe stress, an eating disorder or a thyroid problem.

What medications should be taken to trigger menstruation?

There are several types of treatment for amenorrhea. For girls suffering from ovarian dysfunction, the treatment is hormonal. Women who have undergone a hysterectomy or had their ovaries removed for reasons other than cancer prior to menopause will also be considered for hormone therapy. When the absence of menstruation is caused by a benign infection of the pituitary gland, a prolactin-lowering drug will help bring on the period.

How can I make my period come faster?

There's no scientifically proven method for making periods come faster. Some people believe that there are methods that can bring on the period earlier, such as :

  • Regular breathing exercises;
  • Sport;
  • Foods known to improve blood circulation (parsley, ginger, orange or pineapple).

When should I start worrying if I don't have my period?

If you're sexually active, take a pregnancy test as soon as your period is 5 days late. If the situation persists despite a negative test, make an appointment with your doctor to obtain a prescription for a blood test. If you haven't had intercourse since your last cycle, a consultation after a week will help explain the delay in your period. In any case, it's advisable to seek professional advice after one month of amenorrhea.

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