What Causes Menstrual Delay?

Many women experience a missed period and think they are pregnant. Menstrual delay or lack of menstruation can be due to many reasons other than pregnancy. Common causes can range from hormonal imbalances to serious medical conditions.

There are two situations in a woman’s life when her menstrual cycle is irregular: during puberty, when menstruation first begins, and when menopause begins. As your body goes through such a transition, your normal cycle may become irregular.

Most non-menopausal women usually have a period every 28 days. However, a healthy menstrual cycle can change every 21 to 35 days. If your menstrual period is not within these ranges, it may be due to one of the following.

1. Stress

It can throw off your stress hormones, alter your daily routine, and even affect the part of your brain responsible for regulating your period – your hypothalamus. Over time, stress can lead to illness and sudden weight gain or loss;

If you think your period is delayed because of stress, try relaxation techniques and lifestyle changes. Adding more exercise to your regimen can help you get back on track.

2. Low Body Weight

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Women with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia may experience a missed period. Being below 10 percent of what is considered a normal range for your height can change the way your body works and stop ovulation. Keeping your eating disorder under control and achieving a healthy weight can help return your cycle to normal. Women who participate in extreme exercise such as marathon may also have irregular periods.

3. Obesity

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Low body weight can cause hormonal changes, as well as excess weight. If your doctor determines that obesity is a factor in irregular menstrual periods, they will recommend a diet and exercise plan.

4. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes your body to produce more male hormone androgens. As a result of this hormone imbalance, cysts form on the ovaries. This can make ovulation irregular or stop it altogether.

Other hormones, such as insulin, can also get out of balance. This is due to the insulin resistance associated with PCOS. PCOS treatment focuses on relieving symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe birth control or other medications to help regulate your cycle.

5. Birth Control

When you use birth control methods, you may experience a change in your cycle. Birth control pills contain the hormones estrogen and progestin, which prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs. After stopping the pill, it may take up to six months for your cycle to become consistent again. Other types of contraceptives that are implanted or injected can also cause delayed menstruation.

6. Chronic Diseases

Chronic diseases such as diabetes and celiac disease can also affect the menstrual cycle. Changes in blood sugar are linked to hormonal changes, so although rare, poorly controlled diabetes can cause your menstrual cycle to be irregular.

Celiac disease causes inflammation in your small intestine that can wreak havoc, preventing your body from absorbing important nutrients. This can result in late or missed periods.

7. Early Peri-menopause

Most women begin menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. Women who develop symptoms aged 40 years and older are considered to have early peri-menopause. This means that your egg supply is decreasing and results periods and eventually menstruation will cease.

8. Thyroid Problems

An overactive or underactive thyroid gland can also be the cause of a late or missed menstrual cycle. The thyroid regulates your body’s metabolism, so hormone levels can also be affected. Thyroid problems can usually be treated with medication. Your period will likely return to normal after treatment.

When Should You See a Doctor?

You can discuss options with your doctor for diagnosing and treating the cause of your missed periods. Keep track of any changes in your cycle as well as other health changes to talk to your doctor about. This way, it will aid in making a diagnosis.

If you have the following symptoms, contact a doctor immediately:

  • unusually heavy bleeding
  • fire
  • severe pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • bleeding that lasts longer than seven days
  • bleeding when you have reached menopause and have not had a period for 1 year

Healthline, Why Is My Period Late: 8 Possible Reasons, 2017


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  • Irregular periods. (2013, October)
  • Irregular periods – causes. (2015, April 26)
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014, May 9). Amenorrhea: Causes
  • sexual health. (2014, June 30)
  • What causes menstrual irregularities? (n)

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