How Late Can Your Period Be?

Let’s face it, periods can just drive you crazy sometimes. They’re too heavy. They’re too light. They come at the worst time. They don’t come when you expect them. All these things leave you questioning, “What is going on?” And now your period is late and you’re wondering how late your period can be before it’s something to be concerned about. 

How Late Can Your Period Be?

According to the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, a normal menstrual cycle can range anywhere from 24 to 38 days.

Your period is considered late when more than five days have passed since you expected your period. Since every woman’s cycle is different, that five-day mark won’t land on the same day for everyone.

If more than two weeks have passed since the date you expected your period, it is considered a missed period.

Let’s take a look at possible reasons your period might be late [2].

8 Reasons Your Period Might Be Late

1. You’re pregnant

If you’re having sex, a late period could mean you’re pregnant – even if you use birth control. If your period is already five days late, it’s a good idea to take a pregnancy test because pregnancy is the most common cause for a late period.

2. You’re under stress

Everyone experiences stress, but when it’s too much, it can affect your period. Physical and emotional stress can cause a late period. 

Physical stress can include things like an illness, injury, surgery, etc. Emotional stress can include relationship problems, a break up, a death, losing a job, etc.

3. Your weight has changed

If your weight has fluctuated drastically up or down, it can cause your period to be late. Being underweight or having a low body-fat ratio can alter your hormone levels, lowering them to levels where menstruation does not occur. Obesity and missed periods can sometimes signal a serious medical condition and you should be seen by your doctor.

4. You started intense workouts

If you’ve begun an intensive exercise routine where you are burning many more calories than you are eating, it can cause a hormone imbalance, which can delay your period.

5. You’ve recently started having periods

If you have just started menstruating in the past two years, you are more likely to have late periods. It takes time for your body to regulate and settle into a predictable cycle.

6. You take birth control hormones

Your period can also be late when you first start using birth control hormones (i.e. the pill), or when you discontinue it.

7. You might be in perimenopause or early menopause

Late periods are often the first sign of perimenopause. Perimenopause is caused by a drop in estrogen and is the transitional phase that happens before menopause. It can begin in your 30s or 40s and can last 8-10 years [3].

8. You have a medical condition

There are medical conditions that can cause hormone imbalances and late periods. They can include thyroid conditions, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and uterine fibroids. Your period can also be delayed by other chronic health problems such as diabetes and celiac disease.

If your period is late, Pregnancy Care Clinic is here to help. We provide no-cost pregnancy testing and other confidential pregnancy services. Contact us today.

[1] Pirie, Kaitlyn. (2019, September 23). 6 Reasons for a Missed or Late Period, According to Doctors. Retrieved on December 2, 2019 from https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/a29134229/missed-late-period-reasons/

[2] Galen, Nicole. (2017, July 11). Eight Possible Causes of a Late Period. Retrieved on December 2, 2019 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318317.php

[3] Cherney, Kristeen. (2017, November 30). Premenopause, Perimenopause, and Menopause. Retrieved on December 2, 2019 from https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/difference-perimenopause