Having a regular menstrual cycle is usually a sign of good health. When you have a late period or missed period it could be a sign that something is up. There are many different reasons for late periods but if the problem continues for more than one menstrual cycle, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss the issue.
Does a Late Menstrual Period Mean I Am Pregnant?
One of the first signs of pregnancy is a late period. But missed periods do not necessarily mean that you are pregnant. If you're sexually active and have missed a period, then it is worthwhile to take a pregnancy test. You may still want to take a pregnancy test even if you have been using contraception. Since birth control can fail, taking a pregnancy test will allow you to rule out one of the possible causes of missed periods. Your local pregnancy center can provide a test for free.
If you have a late period and a negative pregnancy test, then consider whether or not you've recently been sick, gained or lost a significant amount of weight, have been under excessive stress or have taken any new medications. All of these things can affect your menstrual cycle and cause you to have irregular periods. Additionally, certain types of birth control, including the birth control pill, Depo-Provera and Implanon, can cause you to have menstrual cycles disturbances.
I Have My Period…I Think
Sometimes, you may have your period but, instead of your usual menstrual flow and period length, this time around your period is shorter and lighter. In some cases, it could be a sign that you didn't ovulate during the month. If the problem continues, you should probably make an appointment with your health care provider. A lighter, shorter period is also a common side effect of the birth control pill.
Women who are sexually active may want to take a pregnancy test if their lighter period appears to be pink or brown in color. What you're seeing may actually be implantation bleeding and is an early sign of pregnancy. However, if this bleeding is also accompanied by a sharp pain in your lower abdominal, then make an appointment with your health care provider right away; you could be having an ectopic pregnancy.
My Period Won't End!
Maybe a late menstrual period isn't your problem but a heavier and longer period is. One possible explanation is uterine fibroids. Although these benign uterine tumors won't hurt you, they do need to be investigated by a doctor. In some cases, they can grow to be extremely large and impair your fertility. However, if you're experiencing severe cramps and are noticing a number of clots in your blood, then you may be having a miscarriage. This warrants an immediate appointment with your health care provider.
IUD users may have longer periods due to the IUD irritating the uterine wall. Longer and/or heavier periods can be side effects of the mini-pill, Depo-Provera and Implanon. If your periods have become especially heavy or long, talk with your doctor about changing your birth control.
My Period Isn't Late It's Early!
Sometimes during your menstrual cycle you'll notice a little bit of blood on your panties or when you wipe. This is known as spotting and can be a sign of an infection, a cyst or a polyp in your vagina, cervix or uterus and should be investigated by a doctor. However, if you've been under a lot of pressure lately, you may have a bit spotting because of the extra stress.
Spotting is also a very common side effect during the first few months of using the birth control pill. If you've been using the Pill for a while, though, then you may notice some bleeding between periods when you've forgotten to take your pill or you took it a bit later than usual. Women who use an IUD, though, should make an appointment with their health care provider as spotting may be a sign of inflammation or infection.
It is also normal for women who are in the early stages of pregnancy to have a bit of spotting. However, it is a good idea to let your health care provider know about the bleeding. If the bleeding becomes heavier or is accompanied by cramps, notify your midwife or doctor right away.
Chat with other women about late or missed periods in our menstruation forum.