We’ve all been there, wondered just exactly where our period has gone to and and wondered if possibly, even though the chances are slim, if we're pregnant. There are though many more reasons behind an absent or late period than having a bun in the oven – so before you panic and think 'why is my period late?' check out our definitive late period list!
You’ve lost or gained weight
Don’t worry if you’ve had a major blow out at Pizza Express, a few pounds is unlikely to affect your periods, however, losing or gaining a lot of weight can stop them in their tracks. You need a certain amount of body fat to ovulate so if this drops drastically, ovulation – and your period – will stop. On the other hand, excess fat cells can raise oestrogen levels, which can stop your body from releasing an egg and therefore stop your periods.
You’re doing too much exercise
Taking a weekly Zumba class is unlikely to affect your cycle, but if you’re training for a big event such as a marathon, then your period might suddenly become a tad more elusive. Major work-out sessions require a lot of energy and so to conserve this, your body will start to ‘switch off’ non-essential functions such as making babies - so it's goodbye to your period. As soon as you take your foot off the exercise pedal though, your periods should return to normal.
You’re taking antibiotics
Antibiotics can muck up the hormones you produce in order to have a period. Some antibiotics hinder oestrogen production, and if this is too low then your body doesn’t produce the hormones that stimulate your ovaries to release an egg, meaning no period – or a very delayed one.
You’re stressed out
We’re talking about big-times stresses here such as the death of a loved one or a job loss, as opposed to the daily niggles of life. Stress can stop or delay your periods because it affects the part of the brain responsible for producing hormones essential for reproduction and your period. Once these hormone levels are out of kilter, the frequency and length of your period can change.
You’ve got the flu or a tummy bug
The sniffles won’t delay your period but being properly poorly with the flu or a tummy bug can throw your cycle off track. Your body is a clever thing and if it thinks you’re too ill to get pregnant, then it may delay ovulation meaning your period may come later, earlier or not at all that month.
You’ve stopped taking the contraceptive pill
If you’ve been on the pill for a while and suddenly stop taking it, don’t expect your periods to return to normal straight away. It could take up to 6 months for your period to return – if yours is still missing after this, pay a visit to your GP so they can rule out any other issues.
You’re taking anti-depressants
Some women have found that taking anti-depressants can play havoc with their periods. The reason why this happens isn't really known, however some research suggests it’s all down to the affect serotonin might have on hormones.
You've got a medical condition
There are various conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis, as well as thyroid conditions that can affect your cycle. It may mean you get periods irregularly or not at all, but if your periods have been giving you the run around for a while, it’s always best to see your GP who can then run a variety of tests to see what might be wrong.
You’re going through early menopause
Did you know that almost one in 10 women go through premature menopause before they hit 40? As well as absent or irregular periods, symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats, disturbance in sleep and also the delight of vaginal dryness. If this sounds like you, book into to see your GP who can talk you through treatment options and advise on lifestyle tweaks.
You work irregular shifts
Some research has found a link between shift work and irregular periods. The results of a UK study found that women who worked shifts were 33% more likely to have menstrual problems. While the reason behind this isn't really known, researchers have speculated that shift work can affect the body’s everyday rhythm and so affect fertility and the menstrual cycle.