Why Is My Period Late: Common Reasons and Solutions

Women typically cycle every 28 days; however, this duration can differ according to her natural cycles and could range anywhere between late (35-40 days after expected menstruation date) to absent altogether. But at what point should missed or late periods become cause for alarm?

One-time delays typically don’t need to cause alarm; however, any persistent changes could indicate an underlying condition. If your cycles consistently extend by at least a week beyond their usual length or you experience secondary amenorrhea (no periods at all), it is imperative that you visit a healthcare provider immediately in order to ascertain its cause and seek treatment as soon as possible.

Always, women in reproductive age warrant taking a pregnancy test when experiencing late periods.

Reasons For Late Periods

Some of the reasons for delayed periods can include:

Stress, Obesity and Exercise levels increase due to menopause; Eating Disorders suprafete Polycystic Ovary Syndrome [POS], birth Control issues and Thyroid issues all negatively influence health and quality of life.


Periods are ultimately controlled by a part of your brain called the hypothalamus. Other parts of your brain also influence this area; so conditions like stress, anxiety and depression as well as major lifestyle changes may have an effect. Furthermore, certain drugs used for treating depression or nausea could impact upon menstruation cycles as a side effect of taking these medicines; similarly some anxiolytics might alter it too.

Prolactin, produced by the pituitary gland and known as a stress hormone, increases in response to stress; therefore stress has the ability to influence periods via hormonal mechanisms. Also abnormalities within your pituitary gland such as an adenoma which releases large quantities of prolactin may interfere with menstruation but there are treatments available for such situations.


Being overweight may interfere with the part of your brain responsible for menstruation cycle regulation, especially when sudden weight gain leads to an increase in BMI (body mass index).

Increased Exercise

Ballerinas and marathon runners often suffer irregular periods or no periods at all due to too little body fat for optimal cycle functioning. Loss of too much body fat may prevent your ovaries from functioning normally and eventually stop cycling altogether.


Perimenopause refers to a time during which your estrogen production decreases slowly due to changes that take place within your hypothalamus and other areas of your brain which regulate your menstrual cycle and hormone production.

Find out more about the signs and symptoms associated with Perimenopause.

Eating Disorders

A significant reduction or increase in body weight can influence your hypothalamus which controls menstruation cycle, having an immediate and discernable impact by either stopping ovulation altogether, leading to delayed periods or ceasing menstruation altogether. Weight loss linked with reduced levels of estrogen could even have long term health ramifications such as osteoporosis or bone thining as part of its effects.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovarian syndrome is not just limited to abnormalities with your ovaries; rather, its cause lies with abnormalities of the hypothalamus as well. This leads to abnormal hormone release from your pituitary gland which regulates your egg development and release. This disordered release causes issues in fertility control as a whole and interferes with egg release from cells within.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome may prevent you from ovulating, yet effective solutions exist if this hinders your fertility and you wish to become pregnant. If this occurs to you there are treatment options that could help.

Birth Control

Oral contraceptives work by sending signals back to your brain telling it there are sufficient levels of hormones within your body, thus disabling hormone release that primarily act to cause ovulation – therefore no ovulation takes place while on an oral contraceptive pill.

Women on birth control pills may notice that their uterine lining becomes thinner over time and when their period comes around there may be very little tissue shed; thus resulting in absent or infrequent periods. Women who experience painful periods or premenstrual dysphoria disorder may opt to continue taking active hormones continuously as one form of treatment; taking continuous doses is usually successful at managing symptoms effectively.

Chronic Illness

Any significant chronic illness may disrupt the menstrual cycle by interfering with its controlling centre within your brain, particularly if weight changes accompany it. Conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune disorders or chronic thyroid conditions all pose threats to menstruation cycle regularity and can interfere with periods.

Thyroid Issues

An underactive thyroid gland has long been associated with disrupted ovulation and subsequent changes to menstruation cycles, while overactive thyroids can make periods less regular or stop altogether.

At a consultation meeting between two doctors, there is often one doctor accompanying two female clients at once.

Why Is Treating Late Periods Crucial?

Treating overdue or missed periods for two reasons may be crucial:

  1. In cases of no ovulation but a desire to become pregnant, medication to restart periods and, more critically, restart ovulation may help boost fertility and raise the likelihood of pregnancy.
  2. To treat overdue or absent periods due to nonovulating (ie not ovulating and wanting a baby!) may include using simple fertility aid to start restart ovulating and restart ovulation so there’s potential ovulatory potential allowing better chances of pregnancy success!

Restarting periods could also help if they have become irregular due to being underweight or overexercising; this could result in reduced levels of circulating oestrogen hormone, which in itself is detrimental to overall health and wellbeing. Oestrogen hormone is vital in terms of maintaining bone strength (preventing osteoporosis or thin of bones from developing) while being cardioprotective; keeping skin, especially vaginal skin in good condition as a bonus!

At an initial consultation meeting between doctors and women.

When Should a Gynaecologist Be Visited

If you notice significant disruptions in the length or frequency of your cycle or an absence of periods lasting more than 3 months, making an appointment with your gynaecologist could prove invaluable in conducting appropriate tests to rule out potential causes and diagnose any possible underlying illnesses that may exist.

Associate Professor Len Kliman has over three decades of experience treating these conditions and can develop an appropriate and tailored treatment plan that addresses each unique problem and its causes. Make an appointment today with Dr Len Kliman and discover more about why your period may have become late!

FAQs about Late Periods

What Is The Process of a Period?

Women’s periods are controlled by an intricate network, beginning in their hypothalamus where GnRH begins pulsing from this part of their brain. These pulses at specific frequency and amplitude send messages to the pituitary gland telling it to release two hormones which affect ovaries. FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), is responsible for egg development. A second hormone known as LH (luteinising hormone), known as “releaser” helps release these eggs once developed. Your ovaries release three types of hormones during and immediately following ovulation: three different forms of estrogen hormone and progesterone hormone as well as small amounts of testosterone which is the source of women’s sexual desire and libido.

When Does Your Menstrual Cycle Usually Start?

Menarche (when first menstruation or periods begin) typically occurs between ages 12-13 in Australia; it varies significantly among different people and depends on genetic factors and physical changes that each has experienced in life.

What Is Considered A Normal Menstrual Cycle?

An average menstrual cycle typically lasts 28-30 days and each period typically lasts five days on average.

How Late Can My Period Be Without Being Pregnant?

Most women experiencing late or absent periods are not pregnant and usually have one of several causes or conditions that contributes to infrequent periods (known as idiopathic hypothalamic oligomenorrhoea) or absent ones for more than 3 months (secondary amenorrhea). Therefore it’s always wise to get tested to rule out pregnancy once your period is more than one week overdue.

Why Do I Have Brown Spotting But No Period?

There are several reasons why your periods are lighter or different in color and consistency than usual, including a thinner uterine lining that sheds at different rates; blood may remain within your uterus for longer before leaving with each period; and brown spots may remain as small pools within, passing out of your system later. Any unusual brown spotting should be extensively studied to rule out precancerous or cancerous disorders as the cause.

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