Not in every woman menstrual cycle lasts the same amount of days – the textbook period lasts 28 days, but in some women cycles are shorter, even 23 days, while in others longer – even up to 35 days. Such cycles fall within the normal range and should not be a reason for concern. Every woman can also experience some deviations from her normal menstruation time.
If period is late by several days, or even two weeks, there is no need to worry. However, if there is no period in the next cycle, you need to consult a doctor, who will find the cause of the absent menstruation. The causes are usually not very serious because the female biological cycle is very sensitive to, for example, infections (even common cold), lifestyle, exhaustion, and stress.
More often than not, late periods happen during holiday travels or business trips and arise from a different climate. Menstrual cycles can be easily disturbed by short and long trips during which a woman changes climate zone. For this reason, stewardesses often experience absent menstruation. Even one travel to a different time zone (combined with, for example, holiday stress) where temperature is higher and there is more sunlight than in Poland is enough for menstruation to be late.
Late period – causes
If menstruation does not come back after a short delay and the woman is sexually active (especially if she uses less effective contraception), she should rule out pregnancy first. Before she goes to a gynaecologist, she can do a quick and simple pregnancy test, available over-the-counter at a drugstore. There are tests which allow detecting pregnancy only a week after sexual intercourse during which the woman could have conceived. The result is obtained within only one minute after placing a drop of urine on the tester. The pregnancy test shows the presence of the β-hCG hormone in urine, which indicates that the woman is pregnant.
What causes late period if pregnancy is ruled out? It is worth analyzing one’s own lifestyle and check whether late period can be caused by:
Excessively strict weight-loss diet – deficiency of nutrients and excessive weight loss can lead to late period. Usually, menstruation disorders occur when the adipose tissue is reduced to less than 22-25 percent.
Excessively intensive exercises – late period can occur after overtraining and when there is no appropriate nutritional plan and general low metabolic energy.
Stress, traumas, and even seemingly normal exhaustion and overwork – this leads to a disturbed function of the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis. As a result, the concentration of hormones responsible for the adrenal function regulation (CRH, ACTH) and of cortisol increases. An excessive level of cortisol inhibits the progesterone function, which not only disturbs a woman’s menstrual cycles. Stress may also lead to higher levels of prolactin in the female body. Menstruation can stop if it exceeds 50 ng/ml.
Premenopause and menopause – when a woman is around 40, late periods can signal the natural changes in the female hormonal system. Her body might be getting ready for the menopause period. Premenopause occurs 4-10 years before menopause and, in some women, can manifest itself by shorter and lighter bleeding, while in others bleeding can be longer and heavier than before.
Thyroid disorders – relatively often, late periods arise from thyroid function disorders. Thyroid hormones interact with estrogens and progesterone to maintain the proper function of the uterus. In women with hyperthyroidism, higher concentrations of estradiol are observed, which are accompanied by menstrual disorders. Late menstruation also occurs in hypothyroidism.
Reproductive system diseases and other conditions (cervical cancer or ovarian tumour, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, uterine fibroids, polyps, ovarian cysts, ectropions, diabetes, or renal diseases).
Tablets for late period
If a doctor finds the cause of late period, they can prescribe one of the commercially available hormonal preparations used for late menstruation. Usually, lutein is used – it is a drug which is a synthetic counterpart of progesterone. Lutein dosage should be individually chosen for each patient. For menstrual disorders, a doctor can prescribe 50 mg lutein to be taken by the patient sublingually 3-4 times a day for 3-6 consecutive cycles. When it comes to intravaginal route of administration, 25-50 mg of progesterone two times a day is used in the second phase of the menstrual cycle for 10-12 days.
In some cases of long-lasting absence of menstruation, a drug called Duphaston is used. The drug should be taken at least for 7 days. Menstruation should occur not during the treatment, but within two weeks from taking the last tablet. Another drug prescribed to induce menstruation is Linesternol – another synthetic steroid hormone with a similar mode of action to progesterone.
A doctor may also prescribe an injection to induce menstruation, which contains medroxyprogesterone – a synthetic derivative of progesterone with longer action. The injections are taken for 5-10 days; bleeding should occur within 3-7 days from the last injection.
Only hormonal drugs sold on prescription can restore absent menstruation. Contrary to common beliefs, such properties are not attributed to vitamin C, aspirin, or drotaverine. Remember that OTC drug overdose or taking OTC drugs without medical indications may lead to side effects hazardous for the female body.
Methods for late period
Some women try to induce late period with natural methods. One of them is hot bath, which improves blood circulation and increases blood pressure. In some women it may cause late period to finally come. Sauna works similarly. Remember, however, not to overdo with too high temperatures and with using bath or sauna for too long. Late period can also be induced by intensive physical workout, especially if it involves abdominal muscle exercise, bends, or running.
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