Why is my Period Late?

There are many reasons why your period could be late or missed entirely (amenorrhea). While the most common reasons are pregnancy in younger women and menopause in older women, one or more of the following factors could also cause this problem:

Stress (positive or negative) is a very common cause of missed or delayed periods because it interferes with normal hormonal activity. This can block ovulation causing your menstrual cycles to become irregular. Women break testosterone down into estrogen. Stress affects how this breakdown occurs and how long it takes, which can cause the body to miss a period. Most people think of stress as resulting from difficult circumstances such as bad news, trauma and illness, however stress is often the result of very happy events such as marriage, a job promotion or traveling overseas on vacation. So if your period is late, ask yourself whether you have been experiencing unusual levels of stress lately.

Thyroid Problems
Thyroid problems can also interfere with normal hormonal activity, resulting in a late or missed period. This can be easily diagnosed by your doctor with a blood test.

Being either overweight or underweight can interfere with the correct functioning of your menstrual cycle. If you have been dieting, you need to be aware that when you deliberately lose weight through extreme dieting, estrogen is released from stored fat. Significant weight changes, whether gains or losses, will alter the estrogen balance in the body affecting hormones and sometimes resulting in a missed period.

Excessive Exercise
If you have been intensively exercising for long periods of time, it is not unusual to lose your periods. Many Olympic athletes have no periods at all.

Ingesting Hormones or Hormone-Like Substances
Many substances such as steroids behave in the same way as hormones and consequently affect ovulation and can lead to missed or late periods. These substances can be found in many of the foods we eat, such as animal meats fed on hormones to make them grow. Many of the chemicals used in processed foods also behave like hormones in the body. Additionally, chemicals in pesticides and in all plastics have an estrogen-like effect on our bodies. How well your liver is functioning, stress levels and overall health will all affect the way your body responds to the sea of chemicals most of us are swimming in. Women who experience serious, long term stress are particularly vulnerable to the estrogen effects of these chemicals.

Poor Liver Function
Good liver function is needed to break down and eliminate excess estrogen. If the liver is not functioning well, you will have more estrogen in your body than you need which can affect hormonal balances and menstruation.

High Fat Diets
Female hormones such as estrogen are stored in animal fat. If you eat a high fat diet you could well be overloading your body with too much estrogen which can interfere with regular menstrual cycles.

All drugs can have an effect on our bodies. If you have been taking medication prescribed by your doctor, a missed or late period may be a side effect of the drug. Excessive alcohol use and cigarette smoking, when taken into account with other events or impacts, can also play havoc with hormonal balance.

Living in fear states for a prolonged period can cause a woman to miss a period. A stressful workplace, conflict in marriage, being threatened or stalked, having someone close to you diagnosed with a terminal illness or living in poverty can all play havoc with hormonal balances in the body and result in amenorrhea. During the war years, it was not uncommon for women in war targets to lose their periods altogether.

Breastfeeding mothers often do not experience menstruation. However, it is still possible to fall pregnant anyway, so don't assume you will be protected.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
If you have experienced rapid and significant weight gain, extreme fatigue, and possibly even the growth of facial hair, you may have poly cystic ovarian syndrome. This disorder causes the eggs to become cysts on the ovaries instead of completing the ovulation cycle and consequently causing a missed period. If you suspect poly cystic ovarian disease, you can request your doctor to give you a blood test to check hormone levels.

A missed period can cause a strong emotional response in a woman. If you want a baby, your heart might soar in hope; if a pregnancy is the last thing you want, your stomach may well knot in fear. If this is you, take a deep breath. A pregnancy test will give you a quick answer. Many women, however, know they are not pregnant and a late or missed period will trigger worry about whether they have a serious illness. Most missed periods are the result of hormonal changes which can occur for a number of reasons. Your answer is probably in the above list. If not, a complete medical check up is probably a good idea. More than anything, it is important to be aware that the state of your general health will affect hormonal balance and activity. Create a healthy and balanced lifestyle and chances are, your menstrual cycle will return to normal.

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