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Delayed Periods: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Delayed Periods: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Max Lab

Oct 04, 2023

Delayed or missed periods, where menstruation does not begin at the expected time, are a common occurrence for many women. A variety of factors can disrupt the normal hormonal cycles that control menstrual regularity and lead to periods being late or absent altogether. Causes of late menstruation range from everyday lifestyle stresses to serious medical conditions. Let's dive in and find out why periods get delayed.

Understanding the Menstrual Cycle

While a late period can be confusing, reviewing some basics about the menstrual cycle can help make sense of it. There can be several reasons for missed periods other than pregnancy. So, before diving into the reasons, let’s understand how the menstrual cycle works.

Every menstrual cycle commences on the initial day of the period and extends until the onset of the subsequent period. While the average cycle spans approximately 28 days, it's important to note that a healthy menstrual cycle can vary in length and fall within the range of 21 to 35 days.

A normal menstrual period usually lasts between 2 to 7 days. Though the length of each cycle can fluctuate slightly month-to-month, a difference of more than 7 to 9 days is considered irregular. If you observe the cycles varying significantly beyond this range, it's recommended to consult your healthcare provider. Cycle irregularity may indicate an underlying issue, so it's wise to get checked out to ensure everything is normal.

Reasons For Delayed Periods

Let’s take a look at common causes of a late period

Excess Weight

Being overweight or underweight affects hormone levels and can lead to irregular periods. Excess weight increases oestrogen and lowers progesterone. Being underweight prevents adequate estrogen. Both conditions disrupt ovulation and normal menstrual cycles.

Extreme Exercise

Intense exercise can delay periods by slowing metabolism and halting ovulation, as the body conserves energy. Extreme physical activity causes metabolic slowdown, disrupting menstrual cycles. If over-exercising seems to be stopping one's period, one should consult their healthcare provider.


Periods are controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain. Other brain parts also influence this area, so major lifestyle changes & conditions like anxiety, depression, and stress can delay your periods. menstrual cycles. Additionally, drugs used for treating depression or nausea as side effects can influence periods. The hypothalamus regulates periods but is affected by mental states and medications. Significant stressors, mood changes and certain medications thereby disrupt menstrual regularity.

The hormone prolactin increases due to stress. High prolactin levels from stress or pituitary gland issues like adenomas can disrupt menstrual cycles. This demonstrates the hormonal link between stress and period irregularity.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects how the ovaries function in women. One of the main effects of PCOS is that it results in a hormone imbalance in the body. Women with PCOS often have higher levels of male hormones like testosterone. High levels of androgens, like testosterone, can disrupt the normal menstrual cycle in women with PCOS.

What are the Symptoms of Late Periods?

Delayed periods are a common experience that many women may encounter at some point in their lives.

  • Absence of menstruation for over 35 days.
  • Prolonged periods that extend beyond a week consistently.
  • Excessive bleeding or unexpected spotting between menstrual cycles, after sexual intercourse, during pregnancy, or following menopause.
  • Experiencing fever and intense pain during menstrual periods.
  • Unusual occurrences like unexplained hair growth, abnormal vaginal discharge, or unusual odour.
  • Unexplained fluctuations in body weight, either loss or gain.

Why Diagnosis of Late Periods is Important?

Late or missed periods can be frustrating and concerning for many women. But it's important not to ignore these irregular cycles as they may indicate an underlying health condition that needs medical attention. Getting the right diagnosis is key to receiving proper care and management.

There are many potential causes of menstrual irregularities, including hormone imbalances, ovarian conditions, uterine abnormalities, thyroid disorders, and other systemic diseases. A detailed medical evaluation is required to pinpoint the exact reason for any individual. This includes a pelvic exam, blood tests to check hormone levels, ultrasounds of the uterus and ovaries, etc.

Treatment for Delayed Periods

Treatment depends on the diagnosed cause. Hormonal imbalances may be treated with birth control pills or other hormonal therapies to regulate cycles. Conditions like PCOS and thyroid disorders can disrupt hormones, so medications and lifestyle changes may be used. Structural issues like fibroids or endometriosis may require surgical removal to restore normal menstruation. Premature ovarian failure needs hormone replacement.

High stress, rapid weight changes, eating disorders, and over-exercising can affect hormones, so counselling, a healthy lifestyle, and moderating activity is advised. If pregnancy is possible, rule it out. Further, instead of looking and trying home remedies for late periods, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation and appropriate guidance. After all, identifying the specific cause allows tailored treatment and helps maintain healthy cycles.

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