Late or Missed Periods: It Doesn't Always Mean Your Pregnant

Why Is My Period Late?

How many times have you uttered these words, "I hate this time of the month"? Not many women get excited when their period arrives, unless of course they are hoping they are not pregnant. And, a missed or late period (depending upon your age and status) can cause you to stay up half the night worrying if you are pregnant. Yet, pregnancy isn't the only reason your period may be late or you may miss a period. There are a number of reasons ranging from cervical infections to certain types of contraception that can cause a late or missed period.  

Stress Affects Your Period

We all know that stress is disruptive to your life and certainly to your body. When you're under stress your body decreases the amount of a particular hormone - gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) - one of the hormones that signals ovulation in your body. It also alters the function of your hypothalamus, the part of your brain that keeps your menstrual cycle regular. If you don't ovulate at your usual time during the month the timing for your menstrual cycle gets messed up. Your period ends up coming late that month. Sometimes your stress levels are over the top and you miss your period entirely. Once you relax and the stress levels come down, your period will appear.

Illness Stops A Period

Illness has a way of wreaking havoc with everything in your body, including your menstrual cycle. If you've been sick for a while or have a chronic illness, you may experience a late period or a missed period. Usually when you recover, your period does as well. Medications can also affect your periods. Some cancer treatments (chemotherapy drugs), anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and oral corticosteroids can cause you to have a late period or cause amenorrhea, which is the cessation of menses for three months or more.

Rapid Weight Changes Delays A Period

A big jump either way in your weight will throw your cycle off. Fat cells are not bad things. You actually need a certain amount of body fat in order to menstruate. When you lose a lot of weight, whether through dieting or illness, and your body fat percentage drops significantly, your period can be delayed or missed. On

e function of fat cells in the body is to produce estrogen, the hormones needed to mature eggs in the follicles in order for you to ovulate every month. If you don't have enough fat the eggs don't mature, you don't ovulate, you will miss your period.

If you suddenly gain a lot of weight or if you are excessively overweight, your body has too much body fat and you may produce too much estrogen. In turn, your body may react to the over-production of estrogen as it would to birth control - it stops ovulating. As a result, you will miss a period or have delayed periods. Excessive weight gain can be connected with hormonal disorders such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Women suffering with PCOS often have weight issues and often have amenorrhea.

Organ Diseases

There are several organ diseases that cause disruption with periods as well. Thyroid disease and pituitary gland disorders can be discovered through blood testing. A malfunctioning thyroid can affect menstruation. A pituitary tumor can cause overproduction of prolactin which interferes with regular menses. Pituitary tumors, although rare and usually benign, are detected with diagnostic imaging equipment.

Contraception Stops A Period

Birth control can be another factor in late or missed periods. With the advent of the continuous birth control pill (or shot) you can change the regularity of your monthly cycle to the point where you only menstruate four times, one time or never in a year. The continuous birth control methods contain hormones, a combination of estrogen and progestin (synthetic progesterone) that keep your body in a state of high hormonal output, stopping ovulation. Once you go off these methods of birth control it can take anywhere from three months to a year before you resume menstruation. The birth control shots (Depo-Provera) cause changes in your regular menstrual cycle. 50 percent of women who use this type of birth control stop having their periods completely.

Learn More

Discover more reasons why your period may be late, light, or irregular here.

Learn more about Late And Missed Periods

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