We know it can be concerning when your period doesn’t show up on time but don’t worry, a late period isn’t always a cause for concern! It’s normal for your cycle to vary by up to +/-7-9 days from month to month, so a bit of irregularity is likely nothing to worry about.
With that being said, it’s always reassuring to know what may be the cause of this variability. There are many causes of a late period, including pregnancy, but also, stress, lifestyle changes, medications, and other lifestyle and personal factors. Tracking your period with the YourCycle app or another period tracker can help you understand what’s happening in your unique body as it’s happening.
Are you pregnant? What are the signs?
If you track your ovulation and have an idea of how long your luteal phase is, you can often rule out or indicate the possibility of pregnancy pretty early on. For people with regular cycles, the luteal phase (the time after ovulation and before your period) doesn’t typically change in length month to month. So if your luteal phase is usually 12 days, it’s generally unlikely to be more than 13 days at most in your next cycle. If it is, that can be an indicator of pregnancy, and it’s worth taking a test. But you don’t have to track your cycle to have an idea of why your period is late. Most of the variability of cycle length happens in the follicular phase (the time before you ovulate).
Delayed ovulation is the most common cause of “late” periods. If you ovulate later than you typically do, your luteal phase, and therefore, your period, is going to be pushed backward. But what can cause delayed ovulation?
- Stress (is that one coworker being particularly grumpy recently?)
- Some medications
- Weight changes (how much have you been eating recently? Should you eat more donuts? Less?)
- Health conditions such as PCOS
- Other reasons
Similarly, if you haven’t ovulated at all, you may experience a late period. The causes of missing ovulation are largely the same as delayed ovulation. The main exception to this is birth control, as hormonal birth control typically stops ovulation, which is part of how it works to prevent pregnancy.
All this being said, variability between cycles is completely normal. Even if you have delayed ovulation, or a luteal phase that’s a day longer than usual, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a problem. Very few people’s menstrual cycles are perfectly even all the time, and that’s perfectly fine. If you’re concerned, take a deep breath, consider taking a pregnancy test, and we would recommend talking to a healthcare provider if this is a recurring problem.
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Download the YourCycle app for personalised information on everything to do with your cycle. It’s completely free and always will be.
Post by Miranda Bromage