I Missed My Period, Could I Be Pregnant?
Updated: Sep 7, 2022
For some ladies, their period comes like clockwork meaning whatever happens throughout their cycle, their period will always come around the same time. Then there are many women who even a slight delay of their period could cause them to panic thinking that they are pregnant. But what happens even after taking multiple pregnancy tests to confirm and they all come out negative? What do you make out of the situation? If it’s not pregnancy then what else could it be?
Let’s get into it…
Is it normal to miss my period?
Let’s be honest here, no matter how ‘perfect’ your cycle might be, there are times when your period may delay, right? It might be easy for you to conclude that you are pregnant but there are other reasons why you could be experiencing a delay (which we will get into in just a moment). On average, most people get their period after 28 days and this does not mean if it's more or less than 28 days there’s an issue. The cycle length does vary from woman to woman but 21- 35 days is considered regular and a cycle length less than 21 days or more than 35 days is irregular.
Your period can be irregular in your puberty years, when breastfeeding, and at the beginning of perimenopause (the transitional stage that precedes menopause). Apart from these phases, a missed period could indicate hormonal imbalances or a medical condition.
Can I miss a period for a month?
Not seen your period this month? Try not to panic. It could probably be a result of stress, changes in exercise, diet or other relevant issues. But remember what we said about cycle lengths? It could be that you have a cycle longer than 31 days which could still fall within the regular range. For example, if your cycle length is 33 days, then you will be seeing your period after a month has passed.
What about 3 months? Is it normal?
3 months down line, no period. At this point you have already ruled out the possibility of a longer cycle so what could the issue be? Missing your period for three months or more is known as secondary amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is a word used to describe the absence of menstruation. Secondary amenorrhea occurs when you’ve had at least one menstrual period and you stop menstruating for three months or longer. The difference between secondary and primary amenorrhea is primary occurs when you have never had your first period by age 16 and secondary amenorrhea is when you’ve been getting regular periods, but you stop getting your period for at least three months.
A variety of factors can contribute to secondary amenorrhea such as:
Birth control usage
Being overweight or underweight
Some medications that treat cancer, psychosis, or schizophrenia
Medical conditions such as hypothyroidism
it’s possible to get the treatment for amenorrhea but you will first need to identify the underlying conditions that cause it to avoid complications.
So, how much of a delay is normal for periods?
If you are wondering how long a period delay should be to be considered normal, the answer is to use your cycle length! A cycle starts on day one of full bleeding (not spotting) until the day before your next period starts. The number of those days is your cycle length! If a regular period is within the range of 21-35 days for adults' anything past 35 days is a delay. Does it feel like a lot of counting to keep up with? Not to worry you can use the Grace Health app to automatically calculate your cycle length.
Variations in menses from month to month can occur due to various reasons but after 6 weeks without bleeding, you can consider your late period a missed period.
What are the reasons for a delayed period?
Now that we understand the what and how of delayed periods. Let’s look at the reasons why a period could be delayed.
Stress - Chronic stress can throw off your hormones, change your daily routine, and even affect the part of your brain responsible for regulating your period. Over time, it could lead to illness or sudden weight gain or loss, all of which can impact your cycle.
Body weight - Losing too much weight can cause irregular periods, and may even stop your cycle altogether. This is because not having enough body fat can stop ovulation. In the same way, living with a high body weight can also cause irregularities and may even stop your periods altogether.
Birth control - You may experience a change in your cycle when you go on or off birth control. It can take up to 3 months for your cycle to become consistent again after you stop taking the pill.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) - Occurs when the body produces more of the male hormone androgen. Cysts form on the ovaries as a result of this hormone imbalance. This can make ovulation irregular or stop it altogether.
Thyroid issues - An overactive or underactive thyroid gland could also be the cause of late or missed periods. The thyroid regulates your body’s metabolism, so when hormone levels are affected it could also affect your period.
Chronic diseases - Such as diabetes and celiac disease, can also affect your menstrual cycle. Changes in blood sugar are linked to hormonal changes. An unmanaged chronic disease could cause period irregularities.
Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) - For most women, menopause is between the ages of 45-55. Those who develop symptoms around age 40 or earlier may be experiencing premature ovarian insufficiency (POI), or early natural menopause.
When should I see a doctor?
If it has been a few days or weeks even, you have still not seen your period and you know you’re not pregnant it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor as there are many reasons and conditions that could be causing the issue.
The doctor will properly diagnose the reason for your late or missed period and discuss your treatment options. It helps to keep a record of changes in your cycle as well by using the Grace Health app. This is an easier and more reliable way to help the doctor familiarise with your cycle and give a diagnosis.
Our cycle lengths vary from person to person. While the average cycle length is 28 days. A regular cycle length is between 21-35 days in adults. Just because you have missed your period, it does not always mean you are pregnant. There could be many other reasons that have led to the delay. If your period is late and spills over the regular range it’s best to see a doctor especially if you’ve consecutively missed your period.
Missed periods can be treated as long as the exact cause is identified early. The quicker they can make a diagnosis, the quicker you can work on regulating your cycle again.
Stay Informed, stay in control.
Did you learn something?