As sure as a gun that you’re not pregnant, but your period is late? There are several reasons why. But first, you should be certain that your period is truly behind your schedule.
“Not all women have 28-day menstrual cycles. An average menstrual cycle can be as short as 21 days, and as long as over 40 days,” says Dr Michelle Chia, a resident doctor at DTAP Clinic.
As such, your period should only be considered late if your current cycle is “out of the norm”.
An easy way to track your period is to use an app such as P.D., which allows you to track your cycle, as well as note the symptoms, your mood, weight and body temperature.
There are several reasons why there’s a delay in your menstrual cycle
If your period is late, it could be due to stress, over-exercise, hormonal imbalances, or weight gain or loss.
“Excessive weight gain or loss affects the hormonal axis from your brain that regulates the female hormones in your body. This leads to imbalances that can affect your menstrual cycle.”
She adds that while stress and hormonal imbalances are common causes, it’s important that you see a doctor to rule out causes such as PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome). Women affected by PCOS have bodies that produce higher amounts of male hormones, which results in the irregular, or lack of, menstruation.
What to do if your period is consistently late
Go to a doctor if your period is regularly late—they’ll not only take note of a detailed history of your menstrual patterns and general lifestyle, but also conduct a physical examination on your abdomen and vaginal area to look for clues of the delay.
They’ll also look for signs such as excessive hair growth, acne or obesity and may order a hormonal blood test, which will ascertain if you have any hormonal abnormalities, or an ultrasound, which can detect other types of abnormalities.
If necessary, they’ll send you for further tests to determine the causes of your delayed period.
And don’t reach for supplements such as evening primrose oil just yet.
“There is no medical evidence that evening primrose oil can directly regulate or help a delayed period. The main medications used to help are hormonal medications such as birth control pills,” says Dr Chia.