Period problems are a common issue for women. Menstrual cycle changes can cause discomfort and confusion for those experiencing late or abnormal cycles. If your period is late, and you want to figure out what is happening, you have come to the right place.
What is a Menstrual Cycle?
The menstrual cycle refers to the preparations a women’s body goes through every 28 to 35 days to prepare her body for pregnancy. Moreover, if conception does not occur, the lining and the unfertilized egg will shed through the vagina. This shedding is referred to as a monthly period.
Regular menstrual cycles, periods, occur between 21 days and 35 days, and they can last for two to seven days. Processes often vary from woman to woman.
Some women experience heavy and long cycles, while others may have short processes with light bleeding. Some women’s cycles are painful and may require homeopathic treatments such as hot water bottles or over-the-counter pain medication; Other women may not notice any symptoms.
No matter your symptoms, knowing what is normal for you is essential. A great way to do this is through some of the many free apps that track your menstrual cycle. Not only do these help you stay prepared for the onset of your period, but they also allow you to notice any abnormalities and report these accurately to your doctor.
When tracking your period, be sure to note the following:
- The day your cycle began.
- The amount of flow
- Whether or not you experience any pain
- How long your menstrual cycle lasted?
What is an Abnormal Menstrual cycle?
Changes to your cycle can happen, and many can be easily explained. It is essential to track what is normal for you so you can report any changes or concerns to your doctor. Some menstrual issues to be on the lookout for include:
- The absence of three or more periods in a row
- Periods lasting longer than seven days
- A flow that is lighter or heavier than usual for you
- Painful cramping and feeling sick
- Spotting after sex or between menstrual periods
Potential Causes of Abnormal Menstruation
Period problems exist. However, pinning down the causes of abnormal menstrual cycles can be challenging, and lab work is essential to determine what is going on with your irregular menstrual cycle.
A Few Causes of Abnormal Periods Include:
- Chronic diseases
- Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI)
- Thyroid issues
- Uterine Fibroids
- Uterine/Endometrial Polyps
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Uterine Cancer
- Cervical Cancer
A missed period is often the first indication that conception has taken place. Home pregnancy tests have become so sensitive in detecting the pregnancy hormones in urine (human chorionic gonadotropin called hCG) that many can test days before your expected period.
Exclusive breastfeeding after your baby’s birth can delay your period’s return for weeks, months, or even a year. This is because the hormones that help produce breast milk often signal your body not to make a monthly cycle. While this can be an unexpected bonus of breastfeeding, it is not recommended to be relied on as a form of birth control. Also, ovulation can occur anytime after your baby is born, and without a backup method of birth control, you could find yourself pregnant without knowing it.
We all have stress in our lives, but if your focus is causing changes in your body and delaying your period-it is probably time to look into stress management. Moreover, stress hormones can affect your body in many ways, even acting on the part of your brain-the hypothalamus-that regulates your period. Consider some stress-relieving activities like meditation and exercise to get your body back on track. If you continue to experience these symptoms regularly, you can connect with one of our doctors.
Low body weight
People with eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa or bulimia, may experience an irregular cycle. Losing a lot of weight can cause irregular periods or even lead to the absence of a period. Also, this is primarily because insufficient body fat can pause ovulation.
People participating in extreme sports or marathons may also experience cycle irregularities.
Like low body weight, which can cause hormonal changes, high body weight can also contribute to irregularities.
Obesity causes the body to produce extra estrogen. In addition, too much estrogen results in irregularities in your cycle and can affect your period. Losing weight through lifestyle changes, diet, and exercise helps regulate your cycle.
Chronic diseases, namely diabetes and celiac disease, can affect your menstrual cycle. Changes in blood sugar levels are linked to hormonal changes, so uncontrolled diabetes can make your cycle irregular.
Moreover, celiac disease causes inflammation that damages your small intestine hindering your body from absorbing essential nutrients. Resultantly, this can cause missed periods.
Some other chronic conditions that may lead to cycle irregularities include
- Cushing syndrome
- Asherman’s syndrome
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI)
Most women undergo menopause between the ages of 45 to 55. Also, those who develop symptoms earlier, around age 40, maybe experience premature ovarian insufficiency or early menopause.
This condition can occur due to the surgical removal of the ovaries, autoimmune diseases, or genetic disorders.
An underactive or overactive thyroid gland can result in late or missed periods.
The thyroid regulates your body’s metabolism, which can affect many processes and hormone levels. Thyroid issues can be managed with the proper medication.
This condition occurs when the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium) grows outside the uterus, causing pain and problems for the sufferer. Furthermore, this condition usually involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining the pelvis. In some rare cases, it may grow beyond the pelvic area. With this condition, the endometrium will continue to thicken and shed, but it has no exit point from the body. Instead, it may develop into painful cysts on the ovaries, and irritation to surrounding tissue can lead to scar tissue or adhesions.
Also called leiomyomas or myomas, they are non-cancerous muscle growths within the uterus lining. Many cases are only detected through routine exams. A study published by The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that fibroids affect up to 70 percent of white women and between 80 and 90 percent of African American women by age 50. While they can cause no symptoms, they can also be responsible for disrupting your menstrual cycle. In addition, often, the symptoms of these growths include prolonged and heavy periods, pain and pressure in the pelvic region, and abnormal bleeding.
Uterine or Endometrial Polyps
These growths occur on the inner lining of the uterus. While usually not cancerous, some growths may become cancerous if left untreated. While these polyps can affect women of all ages, it is more common to occur after menopause when the uterine lining is no longer shedding. Symptoms of these polyps can be non-existent or include heavy periods, bleeding after menopause, sex or exercise, and bleeding between periods.
Birth control methods
Some birth control methods may stop your normal menstrual cycle. Additionally, it is essential to discuss any side effects of new birth control methods with your doctor to ensure your method suits you. If you are worried about your chosen birth control, you can chat with a doctor for free.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
The leading cause of infertility in women, PCOS can cause irregular and absent periods and ovarian cysts. An imbalance of hormones causes the syndrome. Moreover, women with PCOS have a higher level of male testosterone. This makes it difficult for women to conceive as they often ovulate irregularly or not at all.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
It is an infection of the female reproductive organs. It often occurs when bacteria enter the vagina during sex and infect and inflame the surrounding organs. Many women do not have symptoms and are, therefore, unable to receive the necessary treatment. Other cases provide telltale signs such as heavy vagina discharge with an odor, abnormal bleeding between periods or after sex, and pain in your lower abdomen and pelvis.
Although the exact cause of uterine cancer is unknown, it is believed that elevated estrogen levels may play a role, as estrogen is partially responsible for stimulating the lining of the uterus. Moreover, the symptoms of uterine cancer can change as the cancer grows. Often women will experience a change in discharge with a pus-like or blood-tinged appearance. The discharge may also have a foul odor. A change in your normal menstrual cycle is often experienced. Cycles may be longer than seven days, heavier, and occur more frequently. Unexplained vaginal bleeding is often a warning sign.
Are you worried about abnormal bleeding? Talk to one of our doctors now.
Cervical cancer is caused by several strains of the human papillomaviruses (HPV) virus. HPV is spread through sexual contact. While the body can usually fight off this virus, sometimes it will develop into cervical cancer.
Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer
- Bleeding between periods
- Heavier and more extended menstrual periods
- Bleeding after intercourse, pelvic exams, douching, or menopause
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Pain after sex
- Unexplained and persistent lower back and pelvic pain
Risk factors for cervical cancer
- A large number of pregnancies
- If you are HIV positive
- Prolonged use of birth control pills
- Several different sexual partners
Recently on our free doctor chat, we had a question asked about a late period . . .
“My period is 27 days late. Urine and blood shows that I am not pregnant but I am having abdominal pain and lots of discharge. What is going on with me?”
One of our physicians posed a few medical questions and some advice.
“What does the discharge look like? Are you on any medications? Have you lost or gained weight recently? Have you had any blood tests for levels of testosterone, estrogen, and other hormones in your blood (especially TSH, T3 and T4)? A doctor may not ask to do these tests yet – missed periods are considered a problem if you’ve missed more than three consecutive periods. However, the most common causes of missed periods in non-pregnant; not-on-birth-control women who are of normal weight are hormone abnormalities. A doctor will likely wait about two weeks, redo the pregnancy test the other hormones. You do need some lab work.”
This helpful medical advice via the online doctor chat may be relevant to your medical issues. You deserve answers and peace of mind, especially concerning period problems. Women’s health and wellness is essential.
When to Consult a Doctor
Put the power of a physician in your pocket with the Your Doctors Online app. Just a touch of a button can connect you with a real doctor ready to answer your medical questions day or night.
With this easy-to-use app, you no longer have any excuse to ignore your symptoms. So, if your period is 27 days late or you are missing your period but have a negative pregnancy test and are concerned, connect with one of our doctors in one simple step.
So what do you have to lose? Stop wasting your time in waiting rooms and connect with one of our knowledgeable doctors today.
FAQs About Delayed Period Answered by Your Doctors Online Team
Some causes that may lead to a delayed period include:
Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI)
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
The length of the cycle typically ranges from 21 to 35 days. A period is considered late if it has not started within seven days of when it is expected.
A yeast infection does not contribute to a delayed period.
Several causes can lead to a delayed period. If your period is delayed, you will require evaluation to ascertain the cause of the delay.