The menstrual cycle occurs in all females from the onset of puberty (average age 11 or 12 years) and continues until the menopause at middle age. Each month, the uterus develops a deep, cushioned wall, ready to receive a fertilized embryo.
If pregnancy doesn’t take place, this cushioned lining is shed via vaginal bleeding.
Menstrual periods last anywhere from two to seven days and the average cycle is once every 28 days, although it can vary. Anywhere between 24 and 35 days is considered a normal cycle.
If you have a delayed menstrual cycle and it is usually regular, it can be a worry.
Causes of late periods are:
Sexually active women could be pregnant and it is in fact often the first sign that a woman is pregnant. By two weeks late, all home pregnancy tests should be able to detect HCG, the pregnancy hormone, in your urine.
In fact, most can detect it the day your period was due and some of the newer, early detection tests can test positive a few days before you would have had your period!
If you’ve had a busy schedule or a family trauma, it can delay your period. Ironically, if you’ve had unprotected sex and are worrying about the possibility of pregnancy, the stress can stop your period and make you think you’re pregnant when you’re not.
• Just beginning to have periods
If you are a pre-teen or teenager who has just started menstruating, it is normal to have late periods or even to skip a few altogether because it can take your body several months to get into the rhythm of it.
• Weight loss
If you have suddenly lost a lot of weight through dieting, this can delay or stop your period. People with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa often cease to menstruate.
Even if you don’t have a specific eating disorder, a healthy diet is required for a healthy cycle. If you eat a lot of junk food, this could impact on your periods, so make sure you have plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and grains in your diet.
• Other medical conditions
Conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (cysts on the ovaries) can cause light periods that are irregular or stop altogether.