Oct 23 2010

Why am I late?

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There are many reasons why a woman’s period can be late. Even if your cycle were 28 days exactly for 20 years, at some stage you are going to experience delayed menstruation or even skipping a period altogether. It is just the way it is. The body is not a machine (not that machines are perfect by any means).


The first thing that comes to mind if your cycle is late is normally “Am I pregnant?”. If you have been having unprotected sex, or you had an incident with a condom breaking or slipping off, or you use the pull-out technique, this is certainly a valid question to ask. A late or missing period is often the very first sign for a woman that she is pregnant. If you have been on hormonal birth control, or did not have sex with a male partner, or you had sex the week before your period was due or during the first few days of your last period, it is highly unlikely that you are pregnant.


During the first year of puberty, your cycle can be very irregular. An may have cycles without ovulation (anovulatory cycles). You may have one or two periods and then nothing for a while, you may just be spotting some cycles. This is quite normal and no cause for concern. If you have not started menstruating regularly by age 15, you might want to find medical help.


Stress is absolute poison to your body and mind, and most frequently the cause for delayed menstruation. Your body will cease to menstruate when it detects a threat to your health. This is done to protect you and prevent menstruation in circumstances where it is dangerous for you to menstruate. For example, women in combat or hostage situations will often not menstruate. If you are not sleeping and eating well or are sick, your body will conserve its energy.


What are the reasons your cycle can be late or absent?

  • Breastfeeding – When a woman is breastfeeding regularly, she does not ovulate or menstruate. This is often used as a form of birth control for new mothers.
  • Stress and worrying – Emotional stress is often the biggest cause of menstrual problems. Starting a new year, moving, travelling, planning a wedding, death in the family, relationship and work problems, worrying about possible pregnancy, trying to conceive. These are all stress inducers that may affect your cycle.
  • Medications – Some tranquilizers, some antibiotics, birth control hormones, fertility drugs
  • PCOS / PCOD – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome /Disease. Cysts on the ovaries causing an increase in testosterone levels are a frequent cause of menstruation problems (See PCOS)
  • Eating problems – Poor nutrition
  • Fitness – Strenuous exercises
  • Thyroid problems
  • Poor health – Sickness and general poor health, lack of sleep, poor nutrition and medicines
  • Menopause
  • Weight Changes – Rapid weight gain or weight loss
  • Low BMI (Body Mass Index) – If you have a low body weight for your length. A lot of competitive athletes suffer from this – Gymnasts, dancers, track athletes. long distance runners and cheer leaders


In addition to these specific circumstances,there are various times in your life that your body or circumstances may change and affect your cycles. These events are often related to changes in fertility:

  • Puberty
  • Finishing puberty
  • Around age 19/20/21/22
  • Around age 30
  • Around age 35
  • Around age 40
  • Around age 45
  • Late 40’s early 50’s
  • After giving birth
  • After stopping or starting hormonal birth control
  • Getting married or moving in with a long term male sexual partner
  • Moving in with a lot of other females in close quarters (dorm, barracks, sorority, office)

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