Delay in having a period can be very distressing for every woman. Some periods happen like clockwork. Others are unpredictable. On average, a woman’s period cycle starts every 24 to 38 days. A period normally lasts about 2 to 8 days. However, there are many reasons why a woman might have delayed periods, ranging from birth control to stress.
What is an Irregular or Delayed Period?
A menstrual period is considered late if it hasn’t started 5 or more days before the day you expected it to start. Periods are considered missed if you have got had no menstrual blood for 6 or additional weeks after the start of your last period.
What are the Causes?
Many things can cause irregular or delayed periods. Changes in your body’s level of hormones levels estrogen and progesterone can disrupt the normal pattern of your period. That’s why adolescent girls going through puberty and women approaching menopause commonly have irregular periods.
Other causes of Irregular/Delayed Periods include:
a. Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism)
b. Thickening of uterine lining or polyps on the uterine lining
c. Changing birth control pills or using certain medications
d. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
e. Pregnancy or breastfeeding
f. Puberty or menopause
g. Too much exercise
h. Stress and anxiety
What is the Treatment?
You may not need treatment for irregular periods unless they bother you or if you need treatment for another condition that’s affecting your menstrual cycle.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and hypothyroidism are the two major common causes of irregular periods in women. In general, the ultimate goal of the treatment is to restore the balance of hormones in the body.
If you have PCOS, your doctor may recommend medications or other hormones to trigger a period. If you have hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), your doctor suggests taking thyroid hormones.
How can you Take Care of Yourself?
- Mark the dates when each period starts and stops. This info can facilitate your doctor’s diagnosis.
- Eat healthy foods and keep your weight steady.
- Extreme weight loss or gain can affect periods. Weight gain can make it harder to ovulate, so losing weight could help with that.
- Eat nutritious food, if you are underweight.
- If you follow a strenuous exercise program, consider cutting back until your periods come back. Whether you don’t want to cut back on exercise, see your doctor.
- If you have had sex, get a pregnancy test if your period is 5 or more days late. Don’t wait. You can get confidential testing and guidance from a doctor.
- Some women may suffer from painful period cramps when experiencing stress. If stress is the problem, avoiding the situations that lead to stress, and getting enough sleep can help & maintain a regular menstrual cycle.