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Periods overdue: how long is that normal?

17 Jan, 2023

Periods overdue: how long is that normal?

If the period is overdue, the first thing many women think about is that they could possibly be pregnant. In principle, of course, this is a possibility. However, an overdue period does not always have to be an indication of pregnancy.

There are many other possible reasons for a woman's periods being late. Below we explain what these are, how long a delay in your period is normal and when you should definitely contact your gynaecologist.

Periods overdue - the most important facts at a glance

  • Pregnancy is only one possible reason why your period is overdue.
  • Excessive stress can upset the female cycle and lead to a delay in menstruation.
  • Hormonal contraceptive methods and hormonal imbalances can also cause women's periods to be late.
  • During puberty and the menopause, it is normal for the menstrual cycle to be irregular.
  • If your period is delayed by more than a month, if pregnancy is possible or if you have other symptoms, it is advisable to see a doctor.

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The female cycle is individual

The female cycle begins with the first day of the period and ends with the start of the next menstruation. Just like the period, the cycle as a whole can vary from woman to woman. It lasts 20 to 40 days and consists of four different phases. For some women it is shorter and for others a little longer. The average is 28 days. However, differences in the length of the cycle are possible and completely normal within this range.

Some women have heavier bleeding during their period, while others have comparatively less blood loss during their period. All this is not at all unusual and usually no reason to be in any way worried. Even in the same woman, the cycle is not always absolutely the same for different reasons. So it's not unusual for you to be a few days overdue or for the strength and duration of your period to vary a little. 

Periods overdue: am i pregnant?

If your period doesn't come as expected, this can quickly cause a big scare for women who don't want children at the moment. Conversely, women who want to have children quickly get their hopes up that their wish has finally been fulfilled if their menstruation does not occur.

Of course, it is quite possible that you are pregnant when your period is overdue. However, this is not always the case. You should therefore remain calm and not panic immediately.

After all, your cycle can be influenced by many different factors. Whether it's stress, physical overload or a strict diet - there are many things that can cause your cycle to be irregular and thus delay ovulation and your period to come a little earlier or later.

How stress can delay your period

We're probably not telling you anything new when we say that stress is part of life and usually unavoidable. Up to a certain point, it's not a problem at all. After all, moderate stress can help motivate you to do your best at work or other things in your daily life. However, if stress gets out of hand, it will sooner or later have an impact on your health and well-being.period knickers

Your body then releases excessive amounts of the stress hormone cortisol. Since it needs progesterone for this, your progesterone level may be too low for your menstruation to proceed as planned. This is because progesterone is also needed, among other things, to build up the mucous membrane in your uterus in anticipation of a possible pregnancy.

If the egg is not fertilised, the uterine lining that is not needed is shed again and menstruation occurs. If the lack of sufficient progesterone has meant that this process could not take place normally, this can sometimes mean that your period is suddenly overdue.

Overdue periods due to competitive sports and dieting

In addition to stress, competitive sports and very strict diets can also cause your period to be delayed. It's not uncommon for competitive athletes to have irregular cycles, which can sometimes cause their periods to be overdue. The reason for this is that the high physical strain on the organism is associated with considerable stress. Especially in the competition phase, this circumstance is often difficult or impossible to avoid.

A large loss of weight in a very short time is also associated with stress for your body and also gives it the feeling that you should not get pregnant at the moment. If it is a deliberate weight loss and you are within a normal weight range, it is not usually a cause for concern.

Once you have finished your diet, the fluctuations in your menstrual cycle should return to normal. If, on the other hand, you are underweight, it is of course a good idea to do something to put on a few kilos again, and not only because of your delayed period. 

Reduce stress factors in irregular menstrual cycles

If your period is overdue and stress is a possible cause, it is of course advisable to identify existing stress factors in your everyday life and eliminate them as much as possible. Try to take more time for yourself in the future and relax regularly. You could try yoga or meditation, for example. You might also enjoy painting or simply reading a good book regularly to clear your head.

There are many things that can help you calm down and feel less stressed. You have to find out what works best for you through trial and error. You should also ask yourself if everything you do in your daily life is really necessary or if you could cut back a little here and there. For example, maybe three days in the gym a week instead of six would be enough to keep you fit. Maybe you could also cut back a bit at work and not fill in for your colleagues every time.

If you've just lost a lot of weight in a very short time, it might be a good idea to cut back on your diet and just eat a healthy, balanced diet to counteract irregularities in your cycle, such as an overdue period. You should also watch your alcohol and caffeine intake. Both can lead to an increased release of cortisol. Drinking less coffee and alcohol can also help reduce stress on your body.

Are you sleeping enough?

By the way, a very big factor in avoiding stress is your sleep. You may sleep too little or go to bed at different times. In this case, it makes sense to pay more attention to sleep. Make sure you get at least seven or eight hours of sleep every night, and if possible, get into the habit of a regular sleep pattern.

This will not only make you feel more rested and fit in general. It can also help to prevent irregularities in your menstrual cycle, and therefore overdue periods.

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Overdue periods due to hormonal contraception

If you are taking the contraceptive pill, this will of course have a significant effect on your hormone balance. Among other things, the pill can cause your uterine lining to build up only to a much lesser extent during your cycle. This means that many women have noticeably less menstrual bleeding. It is also not uncommon for women who use hormonal contraception to have periods that are overdue or even completely absent.

In addition to taking the pill, women who stop taking it can also experience irregularities in their menstrual cycle. After discontinuing the pill, it takes a while for the cycle to return to normal. Some irregularities can last for a year or more. This is nothing unusual, so you don't have to worry about it at first. Of course, there is no harm in contacting your gynaecologist if you are in doubt.

Overdue periods during puberty

It is perfectly normal for young women going through puberty to have irregular menstrual cycles. Accordingly, it is quite common for periods to seem overdue at a young age. In the first one or two years, it can sometimes even be completely absent. As time goes by, the cycle settles down more and more, so that irregularities with regard to the period become rarer and rarer.

Although a delay in your period during puberty is usually due to normal fluctuations for this age, you can still get pregnant. It is important to take contraception seriously and don't hesitate to ask your mother and your gynaecologist if you have any questions.

Overdue periods due to premature menopause

Women usually go through the menopause around the age of 50. During this time, your periods become less frequent. Eventually, you will stop having them altogether. So if you are at this age, your menopause is a likely cause of your period being overdue.

Occasionally, however, women can go through the menopause as early as 35. Although this is certainly not the first thing you should think about if your periods are late, it is a possibility that you should at least keep in mind, even if you are a younger woman.

Overdue periods due to fluctuations in hormone levels

In addition to the causes mentioned above, hormonal imbalances are very often responsible when the period is overdue. In this case, it is conceivable that there are too few female hormones or too many male hormones.

Hormone imbalances can be triggered by various causes. These include changes in the ovaries or various autoimmune diseases. Apart from that, an over- or underactive thyroid gland can also lead to irregularities with regard to periods, even though the hormones produced in the thyroid gland do not seem to be connected to the menstrual cycle at all. 

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Menstrual cramps without periods

If you have abdominal pain and other symptoms that are typical of menstruation, but you don't actually have your period, this can indicate not only irregularities in your cycle, but also various health problems. Maybe you have a bladder infection or endometriosis.

Of course, it is also possible that you are pregnant and your pain is caused by the implantation of a fertilised egg in your womb. In this case, an examination by your gynaecologist will clarify the situation and help you to find out what is really causing your pain.

When is a late period a case for the doctor?

In most cases, there is no reason to worry if your cycle is irregular and your period is delayed. Nevertheless, it is often advisable to make an appointment with your gynaecologist for a consultation and examination. This is the case if your period is delayed and there is a possibility that you are pregnant.

Apart from that, you should always seek medical advice if your period is delayed for more than a month or if you suspect that the delay is related to certain treatments or medication.

Of course, you should also see a doctor if you notice any other abnormalities apart from your overdue period, such as pain, hair loss or skin changes. Regardless of this, it is of course up to you to contact your gynaecologist just to be on the safe side if your period is late. After all, if in doubt, it's better to go to the doctor once too often than once too little. Especially if you're still very young, talking to a sympathetic gynaecologist can go a long way towards easing your worries and getting to know your body and your cycle better.

Periods overdue - our conclusion ❤️

As you can see, pregnancy is by no means the only possible cause of an overdue period. There are many other possible reasons. Depending on the individual circumstances and age, these include excessive stress, puberty or the menopause, as well as health problems. Even taking or stopping birth control pills can affect your cycle and cause irregularities.

What you should do if your period is overdue depends on a number of factors. Basically, you should stay calm at first. Often, the delay in your period is harmless or due to an easy-to-fix trigger. If you have any questions or further complaints, it is best to talk to your gynaecologist about your overdue period and its possible causes.