You’re cramping because your period is probably on its way! Nothing is more frustrating than a late period - except a late period with symptoms that feel like your period should be starting any minute. If your cycle is a few days late, but you’re starting to cramp, then there’s a good chance that you actually are about to start and, for whatever reason, your cycle was just delayed. This is especially so if you’ve taken a pregnancy test since your period became late and it came back absolutely negative.
A few things that can cause your period to be late are sickness (like a recent cold or stomach virus), stress (like waiting to find out if you got the job you interviewed for), and a change in your sleep schedule (like dealing with insomnia). That’s because these things can delay your ovulation and the timing of our period is really determined by when we ovulate - periods typically start around two weeks (14 days) after the start of ovulation. That means if you were really stressed about that huge job interview you had, and that delayed your ovulation by five days, then there’s a good chance your period will be five days late too!
Now, if your cycle is late, if you’ve recently had unprotected sex, you’re cramping and you haven’t taken a pregnancy test, now would be the time! Cramping happens when your body is preparing to shed that lovely uterine lining, but it’s also a super common early pregnancy symptom that I personally experienced each time and it happens because hey, there’s a lot going on in that region during the first few weeks after conception including the stretching of your uterus.
Does that mean that every time your period is late, you could be pregnant? No way! More often than not, a late period is simply that, and the cramping is just an indication that it’s finally on its way. If you experience late periods for several cycles, it’s not a bad idea to bring it up with your primary doctor of your gynecologist since that can be a sign of a treatable thyroid condition and other benign but treatable issues that will make your life a lot easier if you address.