Reasons Your Period Is Late Besides Pregnancy

Updated on July 28, 2018
Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin is a mom and a biological woman. So she knows some stuff about periods. Like how much they suck.

Disclaimer

I'm like you, I Google everything before bringing it up in a panic with my doctor. Here's the thing, I'm not actually a doctor and this article isn't meant to be a diagnosis or used as medical advice. Use this article to jot down ideas and talking points to discuss with your healthcare provider.

Source

Top Reasons Your Period Might Be Late

  • You ovulated late
  • You're exercising more or less than usual
  • You're not eating enough
  • You're nearing menopause
  • You've recently been down with a cold, flu or other virus or infection
  • Stress is getting to you
  • You're dealing with a treatable medical condition that messes with your period
  • Your schedule or sleep patterns have recently changed
  • Your meds are goofing up your period
  • You're breastfeeding

Reasons for a Late Period

Explained.

You Ovulated Late

Ovulating late is the most obvious and common reason that periods are a few days behind schedule. Contrary to period calculators and cycle predictors, periods don't follow an exact rhythm, however it all centers around when you've ovulated. If you ovulated on a later schedule this month than you have in the past then your period will appear late when really it's right on time according to your late ovulation. Unless you're tracking your ovulation through a reliable method (like tracking your basal body temperature or utilizing ovulation kits) then you don't really know the exact day when you ovulated, thus making predicting the exact start of your menstrual cycle a bit tricky!

If your body doesn't release eggs it doesn't ovulate and if it doesn't ovulate, you're not going to get a period.
If your body doesn't release eggs it doesn't ovulate and if it doesn't ovulate, you're not going to get a period. | Source

You Didn't Ovulate at All

For some of us, our cycle is like clockwork every single month then all of the sudden, bam, late period. Sometimes the cause of a late period isn't pregnancy or even delayed ovulation, rather that you haven't ovulated at all. So why would you just not ovulate? From a hormone imbalance to polycystic ovary system (PCOS) there's actually a lot of different reasons you might not ovulate one month or that you may stop ovulating for a few months straight like...

You Have Recently Changed Your Exercise Habits

So maybe you're a couch potato who just started training for a marathon (no judgement and congrats on the marathon ambitions), or your mom just bought you your first FitBit and you're absolutely annihilating your sister-in-law in the Daily Step Challenges. Awesome, right?!

Yes! Except for that whole evolution thing. When you exert your body beyond it's usual efforts then that primal, ancestral instinct that was long-forgotten generations upon generations ago sometimes rears it's ugly head and says "Wow, you're running a lot, maybe you're being chased by bears all of the time. The last thing we're going to do here is let you grow a baby because that's going to require a lot of fat and rest, something you don't really have room in your life for, because you are running from bears almost constantly. Surely if you become pregnant you will die and so will your twenty other children whom you care for and then a third of earth's total population will cease, so yeah, we're just gonna put that ovulation on hold."

Damn, your body is really smart.

But since hopefully you're not actually being chased by bears every day like your great, great, great (repeat this like a hundred or so times) grandma once was, so go ahead and put your feet up, enjoy a little Netflix and a pint of Chunky Monkey and give your bod a chance to catch up to current day issues - like ovulating so you can start your period.

Is your new exercise routine working a little too well? Excessive weight loss can cause a delayed or skipped period.
Is your new exercise routine working a little too well? Excessive weight loss can cause a delayed or skipped period. | Source

You're Not Eating Enough

All of my friends are on a diet. Some of them just eat particular fruits while others eat all of the meat. If you're on a diet that works for you, cool, but if it's caused you to lose an excessive amount of weight (around eight pounds a month is a healthy loss goal, anything more than that can be considered excessive) recently then it's possible that OMG BEARS! Your body is going to think the bears are after you, that maybe you've been running from bears too much and there aren't enough berries in the forest and you are going to die of starvation because why else would you suddenly be dropping so.much.wight? According to evolution, a starving woman is no place to home a fetus so that ovulation gets axed.

See? Are you starting to see how this whole late period thing works now?

Your Body is Nearing Menopause

The first time I got my period, I cried in the bathroom of a pizza parlor. I was 12 and way too young for this shit.

You're probably feeling the same way about menopause. Here's the thing though, evolution. I should have just named this article Evolution: Why Your Period is Such a Sneaky Sneak.

But it's the truth, life was a lot shorter back in the stone age (or whenever) and peeps were having babies real young and dying by thirty. This is probably why perimenopause, the brief stage before actual menopause, can begin as early as a woman's 30's or 40's. If you made it that long way back when, you were definitely not in a position to be having more kids, especially after decades of running from bears. If you're in your 30's or 40's and experiencing late or missed periods along with symptoms like hot flashes, low sex drive, and fatigue you may be entering the early stages of menopause.

You Are or Have Recently Been Sick

Did you have the sniffles last week? Are you in the throes of a wretched stomach virus? Catching the latest illness-of-the-week won't just put you out of work and leave you with a pile of backed up laundry and dishes, getting sick can also be a signal to your body that you're not well enough to reproduce (and I mean, that's probably true, no one wants to baby dance when they have diarrhea), delaying your ovulation which can cause your period to be seriously late, maybe even by a whole cycle. So if you're two weeks late for your period and still pulling stark white BFNs on those pregnancy tests take a deep breath, guzzle some water and get your health back in business so your body can get on track to returning to it's regularly scheduled ovulation.

Everything from illness to anxiety can prolong the start of your period. *Deep sigh*
Everything from illness to anxiety can prolong the start of your period. *Deep sigh* | Source

You're Stressed

Back to that evolution thing, your body is really scared of bringing a baby into the picture when you can barely handle that bear that has come to kill you and your whole family. Because seriously, how are you going to simultaneously grow a fetus while fending off a predator with only a few scarce berries in your stomach?

But now the bear is a late mortgage payment or a failed college class or your parent's divorce (or your divorce) and your period is MIA which is stressing you out even more.

No period = no ovulation = no baby growing = maybe you will have the energy to survive this bear fight and continue to carry on human existence for another generation.

THANKS EVOLUTION.

If you think your period is late due to stress it's time to take a hard look at your circumstance and make a plan of attack for how to deal with the bears in your life so you can be chill enough to get your cycle and your life back on track.

Stressing about your late period could be why your period is late. Conundrum, am I right?
Stressing about your late period could be why your period is late. Conundrum, am I right? | Source

You're Dealing with a Treatable Medical Condition

In some cases, a missed period could be a sign of a medical condition like a thyroid disorder, a non-cancerous tumor, or even scar tissue from a previous procedure, all of which require medical diagnosis to treat.

You're Working a New Shift

By now you're probably like, "okay, wow, what CAN'T affect my period."

Which brings us to: Taking on a new shift at work can totally cause your period to be late.

Simply put, our circadian rhythm controls a whole slew of other biological rhythms (like ovulation) and if you're taking on a new shift at work, or your shifts are constantly changing, you're probably not getting regular sleep or sticking to a solid bedtime with can interrupt your circadian rhythm. Messed up circadian rhythm can = messed up menstrual cycle.

Your Medication

Many medications, from birth control to anti-psychotics can cause missed periods. If you're taking any meds, read up on the side effects to find out if late or missed periods are one of them.

You Are Breastfeeding

I'm going to blame this one on evolution too, since in the way back when, it would have been hard to find enough food to eat to produce breast milk and nourish a growing fetus (two things that make you pretty darn hungry) at the same time. So if you're one of the lucky ones who haven't had a period since you started breastfeeding then chances are it's as simple as that - you're breastfeeding. The hormones that tell your body to make milk also tell your body to quit making things cozy for a new baby, so you stop ovulating for a while.

Or you're like me and you're celebrating your baby's first birthday while cookin' another bean and trying not to puke all over the birthday girl's cupcakes.


¯\_(ツ)_/¯


So fun.

You can basically blame like 95% (not a scientific number) of your period problems on bears.
You can basically blame like 95% (not a scientific number) of your period problems on bears. | Source

When to Call Your Doctor

Some sites will say to call your doctor when you're almost dead. But I say, call your doctor when you feel like it. If you're late for or skip one period and have no other obvious symptoms you're probably good to wait and see what happens next month, but if you're really concerned or just curious, call 'em up and have a chat about what concerns you should look out for and what constitutes a visit to the office.

Apps That Track Your Period

If you want to get an idea of when you can expect your period to arrive you should definitely be using one of these apps to track your cycle and receive notifications on when you're coming up to your fertile window, when you should be starting your period, and when you're officially late. Plus, these apps take data from all of your past cycles to help determine things like what symptoms are typical for you on certain days of your cycle along with helpful tips for making your period symptoms as bear-able as possible. (See what I did there?)

  • Clue Period Tracker: Period & Ovulation Tracker
  • Pink Pad
  • Life Period Tracker, Health, Calendar, Ovulation
  • Flo Period Tracker: Period & Ovulation Tracker

Tools to Track Your Ovulation

One of the smartest ways to track your period is to know when exactly you've ovulated. If you've ever leafed through your mom's copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility or browsed BabyCenter at all then you already know that the best way to track your ovulation is by monitoring your basal body temperature with a BBT thermometer or through at-home ovulation tests. A few options to track your ovulation include:

  • A digital BBT thermometer. With this tool you can manually track your basal body temperature throughout your cycle to know on which day you ovulate.
  • A bluetooth BBT thermometer. Instead of manually recording your BBT with a digital thermometer, a bluetooth BBT thermometer and app does the work for you, all you have to do is remember to take your temp. Without much effort you'll know exactly when you're about to ovulate each month, giving you a solid idea of when to expect your period.
  • At home ovulation test kits. These are a lot like pregnancy tests, only instead of telling you if you're pregnant, these tests tell you if you're ovulating without all of the extra effort of tracking your temperature.

Questions & Answers

  • I had my period on January 12th then I had unprotected sex on January 24th. I was supposed to get my next period on February 8th, but it came early, on the 5th. On March 12th I had sex again. Now, my March period is late. What could be the cause of my late period this month?

    There are a variety of reasons that your period could be late this month, from delayed ovulation caused by a mild virus to pregnancy and the only way to find out is to start by eliminating what is NOT causing your late period.

    First, you should take a home pregnancy test. If that comes back negative think back - have you been stressed, ill or experiencing a significant change in weight? All of these things can contribute to a late period.

    As for the period that arrived a few days early in February, unless your periods continue to be irregular for the next several months, that's probably not a big deal and happens to most of us once in a while.

    If your period still hasn't started in the next week, go ahead and give your doctor a call and let them know what's going on.

  • I had my period from January 29th through February 6th then was sexually active from February 9th through the 11th and again from February 22nd through February 25th. I still haven't started my period but took two pregnancy tests and they were both negative. On March 15th I experienced pink discharge/spotting. Could this be a sign that I'm pregnant?

    Unless you have a really long cycle, you're going on about three weeks late for your period. If the spotting hasn't turned into a flow, take another pregnancy test and if that one comes back negative call your OB and let them know. They can give you a blood pregnancy test to confirm whether or not you're pregnant and help you to troubleshoot why your period is so late.

    If the spotting has turned into a period then there's lots of benign reasons a period can come late including stress, a cold or flu bug or even a change in your sleep schedule.

  • If my period is ten days late, should I take another pregnancy test?

    If your period is ten days late or more, and you haven’t taken a pregnancy test in a few days, then yes you should take another one, but only if you’ve recently had sex. Sometimes you can be pregnant, but the test takes a little longer to turn positive because the hormones that tell the test if you’re pregnant are taking a little longer to build up in your body.

    Now, if you haven’t recently had sex and your period is going on almost two weeks late, there’s no need to take a pregnancy test. Your period isn’t late because you’re pregnant, it’s late because you’ve either ovulated late or not at all. So, take note if you’ve recently had a change in your sleep schedule, been under more stress than usual, lost some weight or just got over a virus. These are all things that can contribute to a delayed or skipped ovulation and you must ovulate to start your period.

    If your next cycle doesn’t come either then it’s time to call up your gynecologist or primary doctor and let them know what’s up so they can make sure you’re not dealing with a treatable condition like a thyroid disorder.

  • Can a late period cause nausea, even if you aren't pregnant?

    If your period is late and you’re feeling nauseous, you’re probably quick to think you’re pregnant. But if you haven’t had sex recently or you’ve taken a pregnancy test and it’s come back negative then why the nausea? Isn’t that a classic pregnancy symptom? Yep, but it’s also a classic symptom of PMS because before your body begins it’s menstrual cycle it releases prostaglandins. Prostaglandins, in really simple terms are chemicals that start reacting all over your body and they make you feel as weird as pregnancy hormones can. It’s natural, it’s normal but it’s really annoying and one of the nasty feelings that the release of prostaglandins can give you is nausea which can lead to vomiting (though just because you’re nauseous before your period doesn’t mean you’ll throw up).

    You probably feel some level of nausea leading up to your period most cycles anyway, but if you’re late you’re definitely going to notice it more because now you’re paying more attention to your body and wondering when you’re going to finally start your freaking cycle and the nausea is just adding to the drama.

    Personally, the later my period is, the worse my premenstrual symptoms get including sensitivity to smell, body aches, fatigue and yes, nausea. I don’t have an explanation for this since I’m not a doctor, but I bet it’s not too uncommon for other women as well.

    The way I combat this nasty symptom is to just take it easy on myself. I take more breaks throughout the day, make sure I’m eating well (and enough) so I don’t add more nausea to the mix, and try to get to bed a little earlier (though that’s hard with two kids sometimes).

    *Deep sigh* Sometimes being a woman is just hard. Especially the week before our period.

© 2017 Kierstin Gunsberg

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, healdove.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://healdove.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)