Delayed menstruation or delayed periods happen for many reasons. The cause of it could range from hormonal imbalances to medical conditions.
Typically, girls start having their first period from ages 10 to 15. During the first two years after the first period, irregularities of menstrual cycle occur because hormones are still adjusting for puberty. But after few years of menstruating, menstrual cycle normally becomes more regular. Also, menstrual periods become very irregular when women approach their menopausal stage.
Signs and symptoms depend on the cause. Such may include:
Pain in the lower belly
Sudden weight loss or gain
Excessive facial and body hair growth (hirsutism)
A regular menstrual cycle ranges from 21 to 35 days and normal menstrual periods last from 3 to 5 days. However, if you have irregular or missed periods, it could be one of the following reasons:
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding. Missed period is the hallmark of early pregnancy while breastfeeding normally delays menstruation after pregnancy.
- Birth control methods. Use of any birth control methods cause lighter, less or more frequent, delayed, or missed period.
- Prolonged stress causes hormonal imbalances. Overtime, it can lead to other sudden diseases and could cause weight loss or gain. All of which could affect the menstrual cycle.
- Strenuous activities such as excessive exercising may put too much stress on the body to produce enough hormones to complete a menstrual cycle. This causes less bleeding, shorter frequent periods, or sometimes a complete stop of period because this is how the body conserves the remaining energy to keep its current condition.
- Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa slow down body functions that can stop the ovulation (egg release from the ovaries) and disrupt menstruation.
- Obesity. High body fat percentage increases the estrogen (a reproductive hormone) levels. Excessive estrogen levels result to irregular or absent ovulation. When ovulation is late or absent, abnormal menstrual cycles start.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition where the ovaries produce slightly more of the male sex hormone, androgen. Increased androgen levels cause ovarian cysts. This stops ovulation that leads to a missed or irregular periods.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the female reproductive organ that cause irregular menstrual periods.
Blood sugar level fluctuations cause hormonal changes with uncontrolled diabetes. This can cause delayed periods.
- Thyroid problems can frequently be a cause of early or delayed puberty and menstruation. Hyperthyroidism causes late menstruation, lighter, infrequent and sometimes absence of periods. While hypothyroidism causes early menstruation, heavy, more frequent and longer periods.
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
Treatment will depend on the underlying cause as well as the goals and health status of the individual (e.g. hyperthyroidism, diabetes, pelvic inflammatory disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, eating disorders). Consult your doctor for treatment options.
To maintain a healthy body weight, eat a properly balanced diet which include foods rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins and moderately exercise. Avoid fad diet and rapid weight loss.
Limit caffeine and avoid alcohol consumption.
Avoid cigarette smoking.
If delayed menstruation is caused by stress, learn and practice relaxation exercises to reduce and cope with it.