While the average cycle is 28 days, the length, heaviness and time between periods varies for each woman. So even if your period doesn’t come exactly four weeks after your last, it may not even be late at all.
Dr Rosie Worsley, an endocrinologist at Jean Hailes for Women’s Health says there are plenty of apps you can use to track your cycle, but it doesn’t have to be anything fancy.
“You can always mark a 1 in your diary or calendar on the first day you get your period. That’s a simple way to keep track of where you are in your cycle. You can also count the number of days between cycles to work out how long your cycle lasts. If you find you still can’t predict when or if your period is coming after tracking your cycle then it’s probably time to see your GP.”
We’ve all had moments when work is crazy, relationships are tense, or the kids are driving us nuts. And as it turns out, these moments can wreak havoc on our menstrual cycles.
When you’re stressed, the hypothalamus, which is the control centre for all your hormones, suppresses your reproduction temporarily. And it’s quite smart because if you’re stressed due to something like sickness or an unfriendly; it’s the body’s way of telling us now is not the right time to have a baby.
“Having the occasional late period is very common and is often due to stress – whether that’s mental or emotional stress or physical stress, for example, from a bad case of the flu,” says Dr Worsley.
Remember to take some downtime and unwind. Cosy up with a book, go to a yoga class or go for a walk if things are getting a bit too much, this may relieve you of some stress.
You're overweight or underweight
Oestrogen regulates the female reproductive system and is essential for building your uterine lining and having a period. But when you’re overweight, you produce too much and when you’re underweight, you don’t produce enough.
If your weight is affecting your periods and fertility, be sure to check in with your doctor.
You're on hormonal birth control
Whether it’s The Pill, hormonal IUDs, implants or shots, going on or off birth control could be the reason behind your late period.
These types of contraception contain oestrogen and progestin, which stop your ovaries from releasing eggs. As this can disrupt the hormonal balance in your body, this can lead to a late period. If you decide to come off hormonal birth control, it can take up to six months for your cycle to go back to being consistent so try not to panic if that’s the case.
You have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS affects around 10 per cent of women and occurs when your body produces too much of the male hormone androgen. Due to this hormone imbalance, the ovaries develop cysts, and this can make ovulation irregular or stop it altogether.
Symptoms of PCOS include:
Extra hair on your face or other parts of your body
Hair loss or thinning
Weight gain and/or trouble losing weight
Developing patches of dark skin on the back of your neck and other areas
For any concerns, please speak to your doctor.
When your blood sugar levels change, it can be linked to hormonal changes.
It’s rare, but if you suffer from diabetes when your blood sugar levels are either too low or too high, and you’re not managing it, this could be why your period is irregular.
Once women hit their forties, it’s normal for period cycles to become shorter and less regular as menopause approaches between the ages of 45 and 55.
If you develop these period symptoms and you’re 40 or younger, you’re thought to have early perimenopause. This is simply your body’s way of letting you know that you aren’t producing as many eggs and you’re heading towards the end of menstruation.
You have a thyroid issue
Located in your neck, the thyroid gland is responsible for keeping your body processes in check, including your menstrual cycle.
If you have a thyroid disorder, your body may produce too much or not enough of the hormone, prolactin. When prolactin levels are altered, this causes a disruption in the menstrual cycle and can be a reason for an absent or late period.
Learn more about what happens to your body when you’re on your period below: