A regular, predictable period may not be something you look forward to each month, but it is a sign that your body is working as it should. If yours is delayed and you’re not trying to get pregnant, you might be worried that something is wrong.

There can be several reasons why your period is delayed, so it’s good to familiarise yourself with the phases of the menstrual cycle so that you can stay informed about what stage your body is in. This will help you to know whether or not you need to be concerned. For example, there are some medications that raise certain levels of some hormones, which can impact your menstrual cycle.

If your period is delayed regularly, you should speak to your doctor to check there’s not a more serious issue playing a role. Here are four things that might be delaying your period.

4 Causes Of Delayed Periods

Stress

Stress impacts the body in a number of ways, and it can be one of the most common causes of a delayed period. The reason for this is that stress increases the hormone cortisol, which can delay ovulation or even suppress it completely.

The problem with stress being the cause is that having a delayed period can cause additional stress and worry, which only worsens the problem. Try to take time to relax and use tried and tested anxiety coping techniques, such as meditation or journaling, to reduce your anxiety.

Birth control pills

When your period doesn’t arrive, it can be all too easy to assume that it’s because you’re pregnant, even if you’re on birth control pills. But the reality is that hormonal birth control like the contraceptive pill can mess with your periods in a number of ways, including missing periods altogether.

The dose of hormones that the pill provides is actually very low which can lead to a thinner endometrial lining, making periods lighter. But for some people, it can be so light that there’s nothing for the body to shed - so you don’t have a period at all.

Emergency contraception

Emergency contraception, or the morning after pill, works by providing the body with a large dose of synthetic progesterone which prevents ovulation and can delay your period by as long as a week. However, if your period is later than a week, you should take a pregnancy test for peace of mind to ensure that the pill has worked.

Thyroid issues

The thyroid is situated in the neck. It produces hormones that affect several bodily processes, including your menstrual cycle.

An overactive thyroid (also referred to as hyperthyroidism) means you’re likely to have lighter periods, while hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) can leave you with heavier periods.

Both of these conditions can impact the regularity of your periods and delay them. Both issues can also leave you lethargic, impact your mood and even affect your heart rate, so it’s worth checking with your doctor if you think this might be the cause. While thyroid conditions can be tricky to diagnose, they are treatable.

What if I want to delay my period?

Sometimes, you may want to delay your period, such as for a special event like your wedding day or for a holiday. You can do this safely with help from a period delay tablet like Norethisterone. Norethisterone stops uterine bleeding for up to 17 days (or until you want your period to return).

How do period delay tablets work?

So - how do period delay tablets work? It’s all about hormones. They work by supplying the body with a synthetic hormone to prevent bleeding. In this case, the tablet works by artificially increasing progesterone levels in the body. When the body naturally decreases progesterone levels, it signals that the body needs to discharge the uterine lining and unfertilised egg. Once you stop taking the delay pill, your progesterone levels will return back to normal, and your period will begin.

However, bear in mind that period delay tablets aren’t a form of contraceptive and if you have unprotected sex, there is still a chance you can get pregnant. So, if you want to prevent pregnancy, you should use an alternative method of contraception.

Periods Don’t Always Arrive On Time

While the average length of a menstrual cycle is a good guideline to go by, it’s perfectly normal to start your period a few days early or late. However, if your periods continue being sporadic and unpredictable, the pointers in this guide may explain why. Visit your doctor if you have any further concerns.