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Why is my period late? This is a question that can keep many women awake at night. A period can appear a few days after the planned date for a completely different reason. If it happens occasionally, it does not necessarily mean there is a reason to worry. If your menstrual cycles are becoming increasingly irregular and the intervals between bleeds are getting longer, you should consult your doctor.

Table of contents:

Average menstrual cycle length

The menstrual cycle (ovulation cycle, menstrual cycle) is a constant change in hormone levels. Hormones such as estrogen and progesterone influence the normal course of the cycle. These are supported by Follicle Stimulating hormone (FSH), which stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles, and luteinising hormone (LH) which controls the release of an egg from a Graafian follicle. The menstrual cycle usually lasts 28 days. But a range of 21-35 days would be regarded as normal.

During the different phases of the menstrual cycle, hormones not only determine a woman's psyche and mood, but also her appearance.

Check your cycle: period calculator

How much of a delay is normal in periods?

The menstrual cycle usually lasts 28 days, but deviations of a few days - when the cycle lasts between 21 and 35 days - are no cause for concern. Such deviations of about 7 days from the established 28 days are not uncommon.

Irregular cycles - that is, cycles longer or shorter than these 21-35 days - usually occur in young girls who have been menstruating for a short time. Delayed period can also be caused by, among other things: stress, travel, excessive eating, too restrictive a diet, too low levels of thyroid hormones, too high levels of prolactin (hyperprolactinaemia), polycystic ovary syndrome. If irregular menstruation is present, always contact your gynaecologist.

Signs of period coming late

If your period is late and you are wondering why my period is late, the first thing to do is to make sure you are not pregnant. If you have had intercourse in recent weeks, taking a pregnancy test is the first step.

A delayed period should also not be underestimated if other worrying symptoms are observed in addition:

  • lower abdominal pains,
  • back pain (in the lower back),
  • acne,
  • vaginal discharge,
  • lethargy,
  • irritability,
  • constipation,
  • excessive hairiness,
  • being overweight or underweight.

10 Reasons for a Late Period

Don’t worry. A late period is not as unusual as you may think. Causes of late periods vary: these are not always disease-causing. There are a bunch of reasons your period can be late.

Here are ten common reasons why your period is late:

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1. You've just started menstruating

Many girls have an irregular period when they first start menstruating. Your body takes time to get used to all the hormones flowing through it, meaning that sometimes your period might come later than you expect!

Some months, your cycle might be 45 days, but others it might be 23. In general, it takes about a year for your body to get on a regular schedule.

So, no worries, just the fact that you’re starting to have your period is a cause for a late period.

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2. Miscalculation or normal fluctuation?

Maybe you made a mistake counting the days since your last period, so you think why is my period delayed, when in fact, it’s right on schedule.

The average menstrual cycle is 28 days. But most women’s cycles are slightly longer or shorter than this. If your period is just two days late, it may be a result of normal cycle fluctuations from month to month.

Many women have slightly irregular cycles with one month being on, say, a 27-day cycle and the following month a 29-day one. This means that if the previous month’s period came “early”, the next month may seem like it’s “late.” It happens to the best of us.

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3. Stress

Stress can take a toll on your body. If you’ve been under an unusual amount of stress recently (Hello, exams! We’re looking at you!), it can throw off your hormone levels and influence the timing of your period. Intense stress interrupts the production of gonadotropin-releasing hormone - the hormone that regulates ovulation and the menstrual cycle. Disturbances in the production of this hormone delayed period. It is important to remember that prolonged stress as well as sudden and unexpected stress affect menstrual disorders - especially delayed menstruation.

If you suspect your period is delayed due to stress, try some relaxation techniques like breath focus to get back on track.

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4. Extreme exercise

While moderate exercise is a big plus for staying healthy and boosting your mood, extreme exercise can cause hormonal irregularities that affect your period. For instance, Olympic athletes sometimes stop getting their periods altogether, a condition known as amenorrhea.

Therefore, when choosing workouts for yourself, remember that exercise can have a sub- or extreme effect on the menstrual cycle, depending on how your body responds to physical activity. When the body doesn't have enough energy to keep its 'systems' going, it slows down what is less important - which in this case is the reproductive system. It is one of reasons for delayed periods.

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5. Drastic weight changes

Any sudden change in weight can affect your menstrual cycle.

Severely restricting calories can alter the way your reproductive hormones work.

While drastic weight loss is more likely to cause changes in your menstrual cycle than weight gain, weight gain also has an effect on ovulation and getting your period as it can result in a rise in estrogen (one of the hormones involved in regulating your period).

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One common cause of late periods is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, aka PCOS, a condition that many women and girls experience.

This is when multiple follicular cysts form on the ovaries. These cysts contain eggs. PCOS is associated with hormonal disruption, which means the eggs may not be released, resulting in delayed, infrequent or absent periods.

PCOS is very common, and often the symptoms of PCOS can be managed with medication. Ask your doctor if you’re concerned.

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7. Pregnancy

A late period is commonly seen as a sign that the egg your ovaries released that month has been fertilized by a sperm cell and you’re in the process of growing a little human inside you.

When you’re pregnant, you don’t get your period until after you give birth. If you are sexually active and suspect you may be pregnant, there are lots of home pregnancy tests you can buy at the pharmacy. However, you should also see a doctor.

8. Diseases

The menstrual cycle is affected by various diseases:

  • thyroid diseases,
  • pituitary tumours,
  • adrenal diseases,
  • ovarian cysts,
  • liver dysfunction,
  • coeliac disease,
  • diabetes.

The state of health affects our cycle - a common cold can cause changes in it, but so can pneumonia, kidney failure or nutritional deficiencies. There are the reasons for late period.

9. Medicines

Some medications can cause late periods or no periods at all. This can be affected by antidepressants, antipsychotics, thyroid medication, anticonvulsants or some chemotherapeutic drugs. Some women do not get periods whilst on certain types of hormonal contraception such as the progesterone only pill or intra-uterine hormone releasing devices.

10. Breastfeeding

During breastfeeding you may have light periods, late periods or you may not have periods at all. When breastfeeding begins, a woman's body has high levels of prolactin, the hormone that makes milk appear in the breasts. Prolactin not only helps to feed the baby with natural food, but also inhibits ovulation, resulting in the stopping or delaying of menstruation.

Now you know what happens when your period is late – hopefully you feel more relaxed. Most of the time, hormone fluctuations that cause late periods will stabilise.

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When to see your doctor

For the above reasons, one could conclude that a late period does not mean anything bad. In fact, in some cases it is perfectly normal. However, it is worthwhile in all cases to seek medical advice. Particularly if your period delay is repeated every month or if you have not had your period for two months. Rarely it can be a symptom of a serious illness, such as cancer or diseases of the reproductive system. Also, don't delay seeing your doctor if you have other complaints: severe pain, excessive hair loss, vaginal spotting, acne (which you cannot control), being overweight or underweight.

What to do if your period is late

Always be prepared!

No one wants to toss their knickers in the bin because they’ve got a period stain on them.

Knowing how to prepare, especially if your period is late or irregular, is key. Wear an Always Dailies Fresh & Protect pantyliner a few days before your period is supposed to come.

Always Dailies Pantyliners

Always Dailies are super thin and flexible, so you’ll barely know you have one on. They also lock away moisture and odours, so you and your knickers will be a-okay when your period does finally come – surprise or not.

We call that a win.

You don't know when exactly you'll get your period. Well, there's a simple solution - just be prepared for your period beforehand! Always Dailies Normal Fresh & Protect pantyliners have unique, breathable design and are so comfortable and flexible that you won't even notice wearing them. Irregular or late, your period won't keep surprising you.