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Preventive Care
Women’s Health

Causes of a late period if you are not pregnant

24 August 2023 · 3 mins read


Find out possible causes of a late period if you are not pregnant.

The menstrual cycle of the average woman lasts approximately 28 days. However, it is not uncommon for some women to have cycles that are significantly shorter or longer than 28 days.

The typical cycle is between 24 days to 38 days. If your menstrual cycle is typically regular, a delay of more than 7 days from your expected period can be considered a late period.

In most cases, there is no need to be concerned if your period is a few days late. Nevertheless, if you are not pregnant, a consistently late period might indicate an underlying condition and you are advised to seek medical advice.

Possible causes of a late period if you are not pregnant

  1. Physical or emotional stress could disrupt your hormone levels in your body.
  2. Significant changes in your weight such as drastic weight loss or weight gain could cause your period to be late. Extreme calorie restriction inhibits the production of hormones required for ovulation. On the other hand, if you are overweight, your body may produce excess oestrogen, one of the female reproductive hormones. The amount of oestrogen in your body can determine how often you have your period and even stop your periods altogether.
  3. Excessive exercise or intense physical activity can affect the hormones responsible for your periods. Intense exercise that results in excessive fat loss can also prevent ovulation.
  4. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder that can cause irregular periods or the absence of periods. It is characterised by the presence of small cysts on the ovaries.
  5. Thyroid issues such as an overactive or underactive thyroid gland could also cause late or missed periods. The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate various bodily functions, including metabolism and the menstrual cycle. When there is an imbalance in thyroid hormone levels, it can disrupt the normal functioning of the reproductive system.
  6. Perimenopause or as women approach menopause, their hormone levels can fluctuate, leading to changes in their menstrual cycles.
  7. Certain medications, such as those used for mental health conditions, can affect your menstrual cycle.


  1. What to do when my period is late?

    If you have tested negative for pregnancy but are experiencing persistent irregularities in your menstrual cycle, it is advisable to consult a gynaecologist who can evaluate your symptoms, perform appropriate tests, and provide an accurate diagnosis.

  2. Does travelling cause delayed or late periods?

    Travelling itself is not typically a direct cause of delayed or late periods. However, certain factors related to travel can potentially impact your menstrual cycle.

    Travelling can sometimes be accompanied by stress, whether it is due to logistical challenges, time zone changes, or unfamiliar environments. High levels of stress can disrupt hormonal balance and lead to irregular periods or delayed ovulation, which, in turn, can cause a late period.

  3. Does sleeping late affect your period?

    Sleeping late or having disrupted sleep patterns can potentially affect your menstrual cycle, although the impact may vary from person to person. It is important to note that occasional late nights or disrupted sleep may not significantly impact your menstrual cycle. However, persistent or chronic sleep disturbances could contribute to irregularities or changes in your period.

Make an appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals

Understanding the possible causes of late or missed periods is crucial for early intervention. Get in touch with us to book an appointment with a gynaecologist today, or find out more about the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Services at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital.

For health screening appointments, please contact the Health Screening Centre at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital.

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