Pregnancy

Late Period – It’s much more than a sign of pregnancy!

Overview

Many women believe that a late period is the result of pregnancy. Well, this isn’t true every time. Late period can be a result of many other reasons like hormonal imbalance or a serious health issue.

Irregular period is a normal occurrence when a girl first has her period, and when menopause begins. It happens because the woman’s body goes through a transition during these times.

Generally, a healthy woman has her period every 28 days, before reaching menopause. However, as per doctors, there is nothing to be worried about if a woman has her periods in a gap of 21 to 35 days. So, if your period is early or later than the specified range, it could be the result of the following reasons –

1. Stress may cause late period

Stress may seem to be a common problem but can cause some really serious damage to your health. It can potentially affect your hormones and even cause damage to the part of your brain (hypothalamus) which regulates your period. It can also trigger sudden weight loss or gain, leading to a late period [1][2].

Getting rid of stress is easy with some lifestyle changes, such as adding more exercise to your daily routine.

2. Low body weight

Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia can also lead to a late or missed period in women. If a woman weighs less than 10 per cent of the normal range as per her height, she may also experience a late or missed period. She may also stop ovulating.

The best way to fix this problem is to take proper treatment for eating disorders, and put on some weight to restore your normal menstrual cycle. Moreover, women who do extreme exercises may also suffer from a late period.

3. Obesity-induced late period

Just like low body weight, being overweight can also cause hormonal imbalance. If the doctor diagnoses obesity behind your late period, he may give you some dietary guidelines and an exercise program to fix this problem.

4. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

In PCOS, the woman’s body starts producing more male hormone androgens. This hormonal imbalance leads to formation of cysts on the ovaries, eventually causing irregular or no ovulation.

PCOS also throws some other hormones like insulin out of balance. Its treatment is focused on relieving symptoms. The doctors sometimes use birth control or other medications to fix late periods.

5. Birth control

Starting or stopping birth control pills may also cause changes in your menstrual cycle. Such pills contain hormones like estrogen and progestin, which stop release of eggs from your ovaries, causing late or missed periods.

It may take around 6 months for your periods to be regular again. Other modes of birth control like implanted or injected contraceptives can also lead to a missed or late period.

6. Chronic diseases can also cause late period

Diabetes and celiac disease can also affect your cycle. Fluctuations in blood sugar levels are directly connected to hormonal imbalance. So, it may be rare but if your diabetes isn’t under control, you may experience a missed or late period.

7. Early perimenopause behind late period

Women experience menopause during 45 to 55 years of age. However, some women develop menopause symptoms around the age of 40 years. This condition is called perimenopause. It means your ovaries are not producing enough eggs, and it soon will result in missed periods and end of menstruation.

8. Thyroid issues

Underactive or overactive thyroid gland can also cause this problem. Thyroid keeps your metabolism in optimal condition. So, when it doesn’t work correctly, it may lead to hormonal changes. Doctors treat this problem with medications. Once this problem is solved, you will start having regular periods.

When should you meet a doctor?

People usually procrastinate on meeting a gynaecologist when they have a missed or late period. It can aggravate your problem and may result in a longer treatment.

So, whenever you have a late period, you should immediately get in touch with a doctor so that he/she can properly diagnose the cause. You are advised to see a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms –

  • Very heavy bleeding
  • Extreme pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Continuous bleeding for more than 7 days
  • Bleeding after completing one year of menopause

Takeaway

A late period is a very common issue among women, but it may be a sign of a bigger health concern. So, seeing a doctor at the right time becomes very critical. Moreover, you should also keep the above-discussed symptoms in check to eliminate the possibility of anything more severe.

References –  [1] – Social Stress Increases Cortisol and Hampers Attention in Adolescents with Excess Weight [2] – Food selection changes under stress

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