ARE you worried about a missed or late period? Try not to be too concerned – it's totally normal every once in a while.
Here's why Aunt Flo might leave you in limbo…
Is it normal to miss a period?
Some women don’t have a regular menstrual cycle, so you shouldn’t panic if yours isn’t like clockwork.
Often they can be late, early, different lengths and varying degrees of heaviness.
According to the NHS, the most common reasons for missing a period are as follows:
- sudden weight loss
- being overweight or obese
- extreme overexercising
- taking the contraceptive pill
- reaching the menopause
- polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Does missing a period mean you are pregnant?
If you are sexually active and your period is late, there is a chance you might be pregnant so it might be worth taking a test.
Make sure you try and do this about a week after your period usually starts as taking at test too early could result in a fake negative.
There are also some other early symptoms of pregnancy to look out for that could help.
These include tender, painful or swollen breasts, nausea or vomiting and fatigue.
What are the reasons it might be late?
If you've taken a test and it's come back negative or you're pretty certain it's not pregnancy because you've not been sexually active then there could be a number of other reasons why you're period is late…
Exercising too much can lead to your body struggling to produce enough oestrogen to complete its menstrual cycle.
2. Weight change
A dramatic weight loss can also affect your period, as the body can be left unable to produce oestrogen.
Being overweight can also prevent a period if there is an increase in oestrogen.
This is because the endometrial lining overgrows and becomes unstable, leading to heavier periods for some months, and others with none.
3. Stress or illness
Your body can stop having periods if you go through a stressful time in your work or personal life.
An area of your brain where hormones for your period are regulated can be altered, leading to late or skipped menstruation.
A change in lifestyle, such as travelling or moving house, can also interfere with your body's hormones.
Illness such as a cold or a more serious condition can affect your period too.
4. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
This condition affects how a woman's ovaries function.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome occurs when the sacs the ovaries sit in are unable to release an egg, which means ovulation doesn't happen.
In these cases becoming pregnant naturally is impossible, as no egg is released into the fallopian tube ready to be fertilised.
The condition can also lead to an absence of periods, which can also make it difficult for a woman to become pregnant.
5. Premature menopause
Around one in 100 women experience menopause before the age of 40, and this is known as premature ovarian insufficiency or premature menopause.
It occurs when oestrogen levels in the body start to decline, and this can be caused by illness, genetics or medical procedures.
Birth control, such as the pill or injection, can lead to the body have no or multiple periods
Other medication like antidepressants and chemotherapy drugs can also alter your menstrual cycle.
Do you need to see your GP if you miss your period?
You should book an appointment with your GP if you have had a negative pregnancy test and missed more than three periods in a row.
If you are still bleeding over 55 or your periods have stopped under 45, you should flag this to your GP.
You may be asked to provide details about your sexual history and medical history of you and your family.
GPs may also ask about your exercise patterns, any emotions you are currently feeling and changes to body weight.
Some GPs will advise waiting for periods to naturally return, or you may need treatment to prompt it.
How do you treat a late period?
There is no magic solution to bring on a late period unfortunately.
The best thing to do is to work out the cause – some of the possible reasons are listed above.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also reduce some of the risks of irregular periods.
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