If your period doesn’t show up on time and you’re not trying to conceive, it’s natural to feel concerned. But a late period doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re pregnant or that anything is seriously wrong. Here are 12 of the most common reasons for a late menstrual cycle to help you figure out why your period might be late (or even a no-show) this month.
- Lifestyle changes like stress, significant changes in diet, and extreme exercise can be reasons for a late period.
- Certain medications and health conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can also cause irregular cycles and a late or missed period.
- Pregnancy can also cause a missed period.
- It’s normal for your menstrual cycle to vary slightly each month, but if your cycle length varies by over seven to nine days, then it’s considered irregular.
- Always speak to your doctor if you’re concerned about a late or missed period.
Understanding the menstrual cycle
Although a late period can be confusing, having an understanding of the menstrual cycle and the body can help clarify this situation. So let’s have a quick refresh on how the menstrual cycle works.
Each menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period and continues until the next period begins. The average cycle length is about 28 days long, but a healthy cycle can be anywhere from 21 to 35 days long. (Interestingly, a large study conducted by Flo and the University of Adelaide showed that only about 16% of the participants had a 28-day cycle, even though it’s considered the typical length for menstrual cycles!)
It’s normal for periods to last between two and seven days. While it’s normal for the length of your cycle to vary slightly each month, if it varies by more than seven to nine days, then it’s considered irregular. If you notice this happening, it’s a good idea to check in with your health care provider to make sure everything is OK.