A general rule of thumb is that a period is considered late if it is delayed by five days or more.
Anyone who gets a period will probably experience a late period at least once in their life. It may come as a surprise that stress is actually a very common cause for a late period. If a period is delayed due to stress, how late it is depends on many factors, including the amount of stress, coping abilities, and the person’s individual cycle.
If the stress is acute, your period might only be a few days late, but some people who experience severe chronic stress can go months without getting a period.
Can stress delay your period?
Having a manageable amount of stress in your life is normal. But excessive levels of stress, whether physical or mental, can be detrimental to your health. One of the effects of stress is a spike in cortisol, sometimes called “the stress hormone.”
This is how it happens. Extreme physical, emotional, or nutritional stress activates a chain reaction in your body. It starts from changes in brain activity and activity in the brain endocrine glands, passes through the suprarenal gland where stress hormones — cortisol and adrenaline — are released into the blood, and disrupts the hormonal balance of the reproductive organs.