5 reasons your period might be late that don't include pregnancy

A late period doesn't always mean you've got a bun in the oven

(Image credit: REX/Shutterstock)

A late period doesn't always mean you've got a bun in the oven

Most of us, however responsible, have had that moment. The moment where you catch the date on your phone or your computer. Your heart sinks. There's that squeezing feeling in your stomach. Where the hell is your period? Of course, you then spend the rest of the day googling pregnancy symptoms (spoiler, everything is a pregnancy symptom) and convincing yourself that your boobs ARE sore and you do feel sick.

We've all been there, even when we haven’t even had sex in the last six weeks. Totally irrational, right? Actually not really. Pregnancy is a life changing, momentous thing that we spend our whole teenage years being told to avoid, so really a little panic is understandable.

Every film or TV show you've ever watched has used a late period as a herald of an accidental pregnancy. So it's no wonder that as soon as it doesn't turn up you start freaking out and wondering if you're going to let the baby have sugar or not. But let's be realistic here, there's LOADS of reasons why your period might be late, and most of them don’t involve buying teeny tiny booties and giving up booze for nine months. Here’s 5 to watch out for:

You’ve got your cycle wrong

So we’re taught at school that we have a 28-day cycle. And lots of women do. But lots of women don’t, and if you’ve got a 30-day cycle then you’re going to be 'late' every month. Not everyone’s cycle is exactly regular anyway, some people's cycles vary from month to month and that’s not abnormal. If your cycle dramatically changes having previously been regular then you might want to pop into your GP, but generally there’s no set rule for period lengths and cycles. But don’t assume that yours will work like your friends' will, or that the 28 day cycle is a hard and fast rule.

You’re stressed

Stress can send your body absolutely haywire. According to period experts, Pink Parcel, 'The stress hormone cortisol impacts how much oestrogen and progesterone you produce. If you have too much cortisol it can affect everything from the flow and length of your cycle, as well as when it’s due to arrive.' Big life changes like moving house, bereavement or break-ups are the most likely culprits for sending your uterus loopy. Of course then you find yourself stressing about your non-existent period, and that makes the whole thing even worse.

You’ve lost or gained weight 

Your body has a delicate balance going on, and weight change can mess with it. You’d usually need to lose or gain a significant quantity of weight for it to delay your period’s arrival, but it’s entirely possible for it to have an effect, especially if rapid weight loss or gain is tied in with a stressful period of time, as it often is. As sanitary company Kotex point out: 'Too much exercise and not eating three meals a day can cause your body to lose fat way too quickly and scare it into not having a period for the month. Likewise if you have been getting over that break up by consoling yourself with a tub of cookies and cream ice-cream and your body can’t deal with all the excess calories you could also miss your period.'

You've been ill

If you’re ill over the time you’d usually be releasing an egg, then it can get delayed because your body is a bloody genius and it can do things like that. Basically, it knows it doesn't want to get pregnant right now because it's fighting an infection, so it takes steps not to. How clever is that? Similarly, any new medication that you’ve started taking could be making a difference to your body’s ability to menstruate normally.

Dramatic change in routine

Guys, your body can get jetlag. Legit. As we've reported before, big change in routine as well as the way that international travel confuses your body can mean you don't ovulate in the usual way, messing with the regularity of your period.

Uterus bonding 

In one of the universe’s creepiest twists, yes, it’s entirely possible for your wombs to sync up so that you’re all eating peanut butter cups and sobbing about the guy who gave you a bit of a weird look on the train at the same time. Moving jobs or houses so that you’re in close proximity with another womb owner might have something to do with a change in your regular cycle. Twins!

So if your period is late, there's no reason to panic. But, that said, it's always worth grabbing a test and finding out, so that you've got all of the options on what to do next.

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