Late period, missed period, irregular period, Oh, Why!? 43

A late period, irregular period, missed period or worse missed periods can all be pretty concerning—with pregnancy being the main concern for most, after all, a baby is a colossal life change. However, many, many things can cause an irregular, late, or missed period, though all of the above menstrual irregularities do have one thing in common. They are all caused by hormonal imbalance or fluctuations. On the downside, this also makes discerning which underlying cause is behind the hormonal changes difficult—if it can be done at all. In any case, a trained medical professional—not Dr. Google—is the best person to ask. Clinics such as Planned Parenthood can be a low-cost option for professional advice. In the meantime below is a general list of common causes behind a late period, irregular period, or missed period.Late period, missed period, irregular period, Oh, Why!?

First, early or late periods can be normal, so what is normal?

Normal hormonal fluctuation: It is perfectly normal for your cycle to fluctuate within a few days over time, in general, 3 to 4 days flux at the start or end of your period is nothing to be concerned by. Your menstrual cycle is controlled by a number of sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicular stimulating hormone (FSH). Levels for each have a range of normal which can cause a slightly shorter or longer cycle. For most a cycle between 21 and 35 days with bleeding for 2 to 7 days is normal, but to determine what’s normal for you, you would need to chart your cycles for some time. For example, if you had been charting and your average cycle was 21-24 days with active bleeding 1 to 3 days, and you suddenly started having cycles of 35 days with 7 days bleeding, while in “normal range,” this would indicate something in your personal hormone balance shifted outside normal range for you and you may want to explore why. In contrast, if your normal cycle was 30 to 32 days, a shift to 35 days one month is more than likely a normal fluctuation without an underlying concern.

What about Spotting?

Spotting is also considered normal shortly before and after your period. Mid-cycle spotting is questionable. Some women do experience spotting at ovulation, which would be considered normal, but low progesterone levels can also cause spotting as well as the short and frequent variety of an irregular period. Progesterone maintains and thickens the uterine lining for pregnancy. It’s fall and the rise of estrogen is actually what causes your period to begin. This is why low levels can cause abnormal mid-cycle spotting. If you aren’t trying to conceive, birth control is one of the most commonly prescribed methods of balancing sex hormones. If you are, I highly recommend giving the herb Vitex a try. While slow acting, it is often effective.

It should be noted that sometimes other bleeding can be mistaken for spotting. For example, cervical or vaginal wall bleeding can look like spotting. Sex is a common culprit for this type of bleeding. Implantation bleeding can also be mistaken for spotting. This bleeding occurs when a fertilized egg implants (no sooner than 6 days after intercourse). You can read more about implantation bleeding here.

Late period, missed period, irregular period, Oh, Why!?

Late or early ovulation: One of the most common causes of early or late periods is late or early ovulation. During the beginning of your cycle, FSH prompts the development of an egg, once complete this egg triggers the production of estrogen. When estrogen reaches sufficient levels LH is released, which causes ovulation. Ovulation triggers progesterone levels to rise which remain high for 12 to 14 days. If you become pregnant, these levels remain high, if you don’t, they fall as the egg “dies” so to speak, and you get a period. It’s all rather like dominoes. If one domino is spaced too far or gets bumped too soon, you’ll have an irregularly short or long period. For example, low estrogen may cause you to ovulate late in your cycle resulting in a later period (because the progesterone phase will remain the same length), while high estrogen may cause you to ovulate early, creating an early period. High progesterone may cause a long final phase causing a late period, and low progesterone may cause a short final phase/early period.

No ovulation: An absence of ovulation altogether, a missing domino, usually causes more pronounced irregular periods. A lack of ovulation is the sort of thing that causes more than one perceived missed period without pregnancy. The reality is it is one very long cycle. Anovulatory cycles can be cause by the inability to produce a mature egg, either by low FSH or low egg reserve (you are born with a set number of immature eggs) or by luteinizing hormone defects which prevent the egg from releasing or ovarian defects such as cysts (which can also be caused by eggs that fail to release). If you don’t ovulate, nothing triggers progesterone to rise. In this case, estrogen eventually fails to maintain the lining it has been developing or you ovulate very, very late and you have bleeding. This bleeding may occur before your period was due, on time, or far after depending on your own estrogen levels. Consistent lack of ovulation can create prolonged absence of menstruation, frequent periods, or very irregular periods with or without spotting.

Lifestyle changes: OK, that was a lot to take in I know, so if you’re still with me, what can cause all these sex hormone changes? Any lifestyle change can prompt a difference in your hormone balance. Common culprits are weight gain or loss (exercise levels being a big factor), dietary changes, stress, illness, and lack of sleep. In many cases, simply allowing your body time to adjust to these changes is sufficient to regain hormone balance, unless the change is unhealthy and the body is unable to balance. (ex/ exceptionally low body fat content) One of the first steps you should take if you are having an irregular period is to stop and think, has anything changed in my life?

Medications: Second, medications can alter sex-hormone balance. Particularly those containing estrogen or progesterone or that have an effect on these hormones. Again, this would be something that you began taking shortly before the irregular or missed period occurred.

Breastfeeding: An absence of periods while breastfeeding is entirely normal. You may also experience irregularities. As this is an in-depth topic, and this article is already over 1,000 words, you can read more about breastfeeding periods here.

Pregnancy: As most know pregnancy can halt menstruation, but there are also situations where bleeding may continue, but irregularly. You can read more about bleeding like a period while pregnant here.

Menopause: As mentioned earlier you are born with all the eggs you’ll ever have, as you age this reservoir depletes and you will eventually cease menstruation. This is most common after age 40, so if you experience a late, irregular or missed period and are close to this age, it may be a possible cause.

Sickness: Finally, there are medical conditions which can affect your menstrual cycle. Things such as tumors, cysts, and thyroid deficiencies are members of an expansive list. This is why if you experience prolonged cycle irregularities, its best to see a medical professional. You’re looking for a trend of abnormal bleeding (or lack thereof) for you, not just one weird month.

I’ve done my best to cover common causes of late periods, irregular periods, or a missed period here, but if you have additional questions feel free to drop me a comment. I usually respond within 48 hours. Please keep in mind I am not a doctor nor adequate replacement for one.

You may also find relevant:

False Negative Pregnancy Tests: Chances and Causes
Period Blood Colors and Textures Explained
Vaginal Discharge Types

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43 thoughts on “Late period, missed period, irregular period, Oh, Why!?

  • Evy

    Hi, hoping u could give me some insight 🙂
    I dont usually track my cycle but it should be 27-30 days cycle. My last one started around April 19-22. I did unprotected sex with no ejaculation on May 3rd, took Plan B 35 hours later, and 12 hours afterward. On May 12 I got something like period (it’s like my usual period on day 1 or 2), May 13 very light, and spotting on May 14. Until now (June 1) I still havent got my period. Tested neg on May 28 (low sensitivity HPT). No symptomp whatsoever, but now I have digestive tract yeast infection and havent started on any medications. I lead a super stressful month this May, and been unwell too. Therefore, any suggestion would be welcome. Thx

  • Marie

    I haven’t had a normal period since December 20th, 2016. January I had spotting for one day, nothing for February or march. I’ve had the typical pre period symptoms but nothing comes. I went and had a ultrasound and nothing was off. My blood work showed that my estrogen was super high. But it’s to my understanding high estrogen would cause my period to come, right? I go in Wednesday to see the dr but I’m losing sleep in the meantime. Any personal experiences, suggestions or possibilities would gratly help. Thank you

    • unwirklich admin

      High estrogen wouldn’t necessarily cause bleeding, no. Usually high estrogen leads to early ovulation and low progesterone (so short cycles often with spotting) but it can also lead to ovarian cysts which may prevent ovulation. Without ovulation the cycle of hormones is disrupted and a lack of menstruation can result. Hopefully your doctor will be able to give you answers more precise to your situation.

  • Ashlee

    Hi, I don’t usually put comments on posts but thought maybe you’d have some insight.

    Back in October I went off my birth control (pill). I have had regular (28-29 day) cycles in November, December and January. I had (protected) sex on February 10th (early morning of the 11th). My period was supposed to be February 18 but didn’t come until February 25th, so a week late. It lasted about 3.5 days. I then had unprotected (barely qualifying) sex on March 4th (early morning of the 5th). I typically don’t get PMS symptoms until about 5 days before my expected period but have had cramps for over a week straight (since March 10th) and just general impending period like feelings (sore boobs, etc) for over a week now, and my period shouldn’t be until the 25th or so. My question is: what are the chances of early ovulation/period this cycle? Would it be possible for my period last month to be a week late and then a week early this month to kinda sync up again?

    Thanks in advance for your help!!

    • unwirklich admin

      Possible yes, late/early ovulation are just effects of different hormone levels throughout your cycle. If you were basal body temping, you’d likely see that the time between ovulation and your period likely isn’t changing. So if you saw signs of ovulation (increased discharge, sex drive, etc) sooner than you normally would, yes you probably will see any early period. It wouldn’t be to “sync” up though, it would just be a sign of continued imbalance.

  • yasses

    I have a 28 days period cycle and i am. already 5 days late i took test which was negative should I be worried?? and i had a mid cycle bleeding as well

    • unwirklich admin

      If the bleed was heavy, it’s entirely possible that you failed to ovulate, had an early period and that should have been cycle day 1. If it was light, that bleeding was probably from ovulation, in which case pregnancy would have been possible only if the intercourse was near the time of the bleed.

      • yasses

        The bleed was like of my normal periods whoch lasted for 2 days…. and midcycle began on 6th or 7th day after intercourse..i am already 6 days late

        • unwirklich admin

          I would go ahead and consider the bleed as cycle day 1 then, in which cause you would get your period 28 days from the first day of that bleed.

  • Rachael

    Hello! So, please someone help me out as I don’t have many people I could ask advice from! I had a regular period on the 23rd of December that lasted 7 days.

    I then bled a very light period in the evening of
    January 14th for about 2.5ish days. It went away completely and beginning on February 3rd I became nauseous and got a motion sickness feeling.

    I maintained this feeling all week, so in the evening of February 10th I took an at-home test at 8:00pm.

    Still no bleeding and still really nauseous and exhausted and tomorrow is February 14th with no bleeding yet.

    • unwirklich admin

      I take it your home test was negative? This sort of stopping, starting, weird bleeding is almost always some sort of hormonal imbalance, which will cause pregnancy-like symptoms. Sometimes lifestyle or dietary changes, stress, lack of sleep, etc are to blame, but if it doesn’t balance itself out within a month or two, seeing a care provider is a good idea.

      • Rachael

        Thanks for the reply!
        My test was negative, but I did call my provider who has been trying to track my ovulation window. She tell me to wait until Saturday to take another test in the morning, if that one says negative wait for days and come in to get one done or to figure out why I missed period.

  • Maria

    I havnt had my period for about 4 months and recently moved away from home and got married moved in with my now husband . I went to one doctor and was told I may have a hyper or hypo thyroid disorder. I hang been able to go to the doctor again to get the results from my bloodwork due to finances but today I bled and it was an orangish reddish color and it only happened one in the morning. The first month I missed my period I took a urine pregnancy test and was negative the doctor took one the second month and also negative. I also get frequent urges to pee but only at night or in the morning. Also when this started onwas getting sharp pelvic pains maybe a level 6 pain. Could this possibly be an infection?most likely thyroid disorder?? Should I take a blood pregnancy test? I just would like some insight just to prepare for when I do go see the doctor and any information you may have for me.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this =)

    • unwirklich admin

      There is a big difference between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, they are actually complete opposites. If a blood test was done your doctor should have been able to tell you which, if any, condition you have and tested for pregnancy with the same draw. The sharp pelvic pain and lack of periods actually sounds more like ovarian cysts to me. In which case a pelvic ultrasound would be the best diagnostic tool. Getting the results of your blood work should also not cost you a dime, you should be able to make a phone call and get those as the payment would have already been made/charged for the tests themselves.

  • Tab

    Hey, so I’m confused and was wondering if you could maybe help. I had a laparoscopic surgery, hysteroscopy, and d&c August 5th 2016. Doc was able to unblock one tube. I have been ovulating on day 9-10 every cycle. My last 2 cycles have been 24 days. My last period started November 7 and lasted through the 8th. I then had about 3-4 days of dark brown/almost black spotting. (I had taken about 4 pregnancy tests that were negative). So, according to my app, I am now 2 days late and have no signs of AF. I have been extremely dizzy the past few days. I have not taken a pregnancy test as of now bc I’m too scared of seeing a BFN…what do you think?

    • unwirklich admin

      Have you made any other lifestyle changes that might be delaying your period? It’s possible your just looking at a late one or you could just have tested too early. Are you tracking your bbt too? If so are your temps still up?





    • unwirklich admin

      Provera is a progesterone supplement, so yes, it will often cause pregnancy or PMS like symptoms as progesterone peaks just before your period (causing PMS) and rises even higher in pregnancy.

      • Cenbert12

        hello again after experiencing urine with pain and backpain. I take provera from 10/9/2016 to 10/11/2016 after that I experience urine with pain and pain from 10/11/2016 to 10/15/2016, then 10/16/2016 I have my period but I expect that my period will be 10/22/2016 to 10/25/2016. my last period was September 25,2016 to September 29,2016.
        but my period today is worried because its light than before, its only can full one napkin for whole day. is this normal??

        help me am confused….

        • unwirklich admin

          Provera being progesterone based may delay your period and make it lighter than usual (because progesterone maintains the uterine lining).

          • cenbert12

            If there any side effect if I stop my intake of provera for a two months??

            I would like to stop to intake to prepare my body and my financial to provided my needs in meds and foods. it also cost a little expense for me. hoping for your advice.

          • unwirklich admin

            Suddenly stopping Provera would likely cause spotting and other signs of hormonal imbalance, but no, no major side effects. It would be best if you stopped using it at the start of your next period.

      • cenbert12

        its is positible to have long period if I take provera??

        my period this month is lighter than before and after 4 days continued flow after 5 day my period only come at day light. every night there are no spot or any blood, is this normal??

        Im experiencing sore breast, low temper, tired, bloated and I urine frequently. at night I pee 5 to 7 times it boring me at night because I always pee a lot.

        • unwirklich admin

          Provera is progesterone based, so yes, it will cause pregnancy-like symptoms because progesterone is the same hormone that causes most pregnancy symptoms. It also acts to maintain the uterine lining, so it may delay your period (resulting in more bleeding when it does come), cause lighter bleeding, and/or just spotting.

          • Cenbert12

            its normal after taking provera I`m bleeding or spotting for 1week and having my period this week?? I think I`m bleeding and having my period last week and this week. it this normal?

          • unwirklich admin

            With any type of hormone-based medication irregular bleeding is considered normal as your body adjusts. If it continues beyond your first month or two of use though, consult with your prescriber.

  • cenbert12

    hello everyone my ob-gyn prescribe me a provera 10 mg to be intake for4 months to normalize my menstruation cycle and to cure my hormonal imbalance. I wonder if there a possibility that I will be came pregnant after 4 months??

    I want to be pregnant by this year hope you would help me..


  • cendy

    hello everyone, my period is irregular for how many years, I`m 26 years old now,
    last June 2016 I decide to go in a ob-gyn clinic to check if I have a problem with my period. My partner and I trying to have a baby for almost 1yr. the doctor said that I have hormonal imbalance and my egg is not mature she gave me vitamins and medicine to cure my hormonal imbalance.. am hoping more advice for how I will be get pregnant faster.

  • Angela

    I just gave birth July 1st, and had my first cycle return August 22-27, then today September 3rd I have what seems like my period again??
    I am not breast feeding.

    Is this normal??

    • unwirklich admin

      After pregnancy, there is no normal for a few months. It takes time for your body to return to it’s normal hormone balance. This means you also may be ovulating irregularly, so if you aren’t trying to conceive again, it’s best to be extra cautious with protection.

  • Mel

    Hi, I’m 36. Been feeling really really stressed recently. My periods are normal, on time (26-28 cycle and lasts for about 3days) but this month I noticed my period was watery. I just finished a course of antibiotics on Tuesday and came on Weds.

    I’ve googled (probably shouldn’t) and came up with loads of worrying stuff. Which lead to my gp doing loads of bloods one which was for early menopause and I’m so scared. Or so you think I’m working myself up more with stress x

    • unwirklich admin

      If you have already seen a GP, they did blood work and everything was fine, you’re probably working yourself up. If blood work and an exam wasn’t enough to ease your mind, I’m really not sure what will. If you just are convinced something is wrong you could get a second opinion? As far as I know though a “watery” period is just one with lots of discharge or possibly thinner blood and it’s probably nothing to worry about. Anemia maybe, but that would show on your blood work.

  • concerned101

    My periods have been irregular for a while I wouldn’t know when it would come on or go off. Now I have regular periods but they are very light and stays on only 3 days, I can tell when it comes on and goes off now since February. What is the cause of this? Also these are my days
    February 27-30
    March 28-30
    April 10-13
    May 6-6 went off same day. Next day little cramping. I don’t think I can get pregnant cause my fiance and I been together 15 years and haven’t had a baby yet. So I don’t think it’s pregnancy.

    • unwirklich admin

      I would bet you have a hormone off, but which just from light periods is hard to say. You are for some reason not building up a proper uterine lining, which would be why you haven’t become pregnant (previously when you were irregular you probably weren’t ovulating regularly either.) Low estrogen is a possibility. If you are wanting to conceive, I recommend going in to see where your levels are and pinpoint what’s throwing things off so you have a better idea how to help. A healthy BMI is important to proper hormone production as well as a balanced diet. Vitex may also help (it is slow acting and does take time.)