Missed periods!! Delayed periods!
What is the first word you think of after hearing these words?
Is it pregnancy?
I am sure you did think this.
Because obviously, the most common reason for a missed period would be pregnancy but what if you are wholly solely single.
Pregnancy is out of options.
So what are the other reasons?
Well that is what we are going to talk about in this article
WHAT CAUSE PERIODS TO DELAY?
Let’s get into some scientific terms to know what really goes inside our body that cause delayed periods.
The entire game of periods and menstrual cycle is played by 4 hormones  which are
- FSH- follicle-stimulating hormone
- LH- luteinizing hormone
Our brain has a gland known as the hypothalamus which produces a hormone called Gonadotropin-releasing (GnRH).
This hormone stimulates the pituitary gland which is also present in the brain to produce FSH which is the follicle-stimulating hormone.
As the name suggests this hormone acts on the ovaries to develop eggs.
The growing follicles in the ovaries start producing estrogen and the level of estrogen starts rising in the blood. When it reaches a certain critical point, the pituitary gland senses it and starts releasing LH that is the luteinizing hormone.
This hormone triggers ovulation( releasing of an egg by one of the ovaries).
After the ovulation takes place the follicles rupture and is called corpus luteum.
This produces another hormone which is called progesterone.
The estrogen makes the inner lining of the uterus thick and the progesterone prepares itself for pregnancy.
If the pregnancy does not happen the levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease and the inner lining of the uterus sheds off.
This is the entire menstrual cycle.
It is in two phases 
Phase 1- pre-ovulatory phase/follicular phase
Phase 2- post-ovulatory phase/luteal phase
Phase 2 of the cycle is fixed that is 14 days after ovulation but phase 1 of the cycle is variable which means because for a lot of reasons the egg may develop very slowly or may take a very long time to develop increasing the length of the preovulatory phase.
So actually the length of the menstrual cycle is determined by the length of the preovulatory phase
Therefore anything which disturbs the process of ovulation will disturb the cycle.
So you understand the cause behind missed periods, or delayed periods is due to the disturbance caused in the preovulatory phase.
8 REASONS FOR DELAYED PERIODS
Let us discuss what are the other reasons behind delayed periods if you are not pregnant.
1. YOU ARE LEADING A STRESSFUL LIFE
Stress can create havoc in your life, it affects every area, be it your health, your relationships and even your periods. 
When we are under stress our body is in ‘fight or flight mode’. To maintain this mode our brain constantly gives signals to the endocrine system to flood our body with hormones.
These surges in hormones create a mess with the process of ovulation. It can temporarily stop your ovulation, hence a delay in periods.
Stress can seriously affect your hypothalamus, a gland that releases Gonadotropin-releasing (GnRH) hormone responsible for regulating your periods.
Chronic stress can take a toll on your body. It can make you overweight, it can also make you underweight, which again can mess up with your periods. [4, 5]
Now I completely understand that stress is unavoidable because it is not a conscious choice of an individual. Nobody likes to be in a stressful situation.
We live in such a competitive environment that stress is inevitable.
We all know it is bad for our health.
So what can we do?
We can manage our stress with the help of some stress management techniques.
Have some me-time. Do things that make you happy at least for half an hour each day.
If you love pets I would advise you to spend time with pets. If you don’t have a pet, no problem, feed a stray dog or a stray puppy love them and see how they love you back.
If you are not a pet lover, there are multiple options like meditation, going for a walk in greenery.
Just do whatever works for you and makes you happy. When your mind is happy, your body will automatically become healthy and your menstrual cycle will be all set to get back on track.
2. YOU’RE SUFFERING FROM PCOS 
Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) is on the rise lately. One in five Indian women suffers from PCOS.
PCOD is a condition where high amounts of male hormones- androgens are produced. As a result, small cysts are formed in the uterus which causes irregularity in periods.
If you have polycystic syndrome your pituitary gland may release abnormally high amounts of luteinizing hormone into your bloodstream disrupting your normal menstrual cycle, as a result, your follicles do not mature and ovulation does not occur.
Another hormone that messes up your menstrual cycle is insulin.
Insulin combined with luteinizing hormone leads to the production of testosterone- a male hormone in your ovaries. This can make the process of ovulation irregular or stop it altogether.
Another symptom of PCOD apart from problems in periods includes
- Thinning of hair
- Excess hair growth on the face and other parts of the body
- Difficulty in losing or gaining weight
- Sleep disturbances
- Acne on the face and the body
- Dark patches of skin
PCOD can occur due to various reasons including
- Presence of chemical pollutants in the body
- Insulin resistance
- Poor lifestyle
- Chronic low-grade inflammation
However, PCOS/PCOD is just a lifestyle disorder and it can be completely cured by doing some lifestyle changes. [7, 8]
Most women and girls rely on medicines to cure PCOD but let me tell you this, that medicines will only worsen your condition. Try out some changes in your lifestyle and see the difference.
[Suggested Reading – PCOD diet for weight loss]
3. YOU ARE UNDERWEIGHT 
Do you count calories every time before eating your food? Do you fear that if you eat more calories, you will suddenly gain weight?
Well if you are doing this, you need to stop it, you may be suffering from an eating disorder known as anorexia nervosa.
Eating your food with guilt is the biggest insult you do to your food and that food, obviously, is never going to give you the required benefits.
When you restrict yourself from having the required intake of calories, the body gets deficient in various nutrients that are needed by the body.
Severely restricting the calorie intake can stop the production of hormones needed for ovulation, hence resulting in delayed periods.
If you are an underweight person or you have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5, consider getting yourself checked by a general physician first and then some nutritionist or dietician. They will guide you better and help you to have a properly balanced diet consisting of vitamins and nutrients that are deficient in your body.
4. YOU ARE OBESE OR OVERWEIGHT
Just like being underweight, being overweight is also a problem that contributes to delay periods. 
When you are overweight, your body produces excess amounts of the hormone named oestrogen. This hormone regulates the reproductive system in women.
Excess production of oestrogen can affect the regularity of your menses and can even cause them to stop altogether.
If you think you are obese or have a BMI of more than 30, do consult a dietician.
Delaying in periods and being overweight may indicate PCOS. Get yourself checked by a doctor to rule out this condition.
Again I will say that these are all lifestyle disorders, these are not diseases. Little changes in your routine and adapting to a healthy lifestyle can make all the difference.
And it is not that tough.
4. YOU HAVE ANY MEDICAL CONDITION
Just like mental stress, physical stress can also affect your menstrual cycle.
This physical stress comes when your body is suffering from chronic illness.
These chronic illnesses include
- Thyroid disease especially hyperthyroidism
- Ovarian cysts
- Liver dysfunction
- Pituitary tumours
- Diseases of the adrenal gland
These conditions can seriously alter hormones in our bodies and affect the menstrual cycle. Once the condition is treated, slowly the cycle will come back on track.
The most common condition is the thyroid, both overactive and underactive thyroid gland affects your periods.
More than hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism is responsible for causing irregularities and delays in the cycle. [11, 12]
However, the thyroid can be easily controlled by the correct lifestyle and some medications.
Symptoms of thyroid include
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Swelling on face
- Sleep disorders
- Appetite changes
5. YOU ARE ON A BIRTH CONTROL PILL 
Yes, contraceptive pills can delay periods. When emergency contraceptive pills are taken, the length of the next cycle can be shortened or delayed by a week.
Also when the contraceptive pills are taken continuously for many months, it delays the periods but this should be done only under the guidance of a gynaecologist.
Similarly, when you stop taking the pills, your cycle can take up to 6 months to become regular.
6. YOU ARE DOING EXCESSIVE EXERCISE
While exercising during periods has numerous benefits but overexercising can have opposite effects. 
You may experience missed or delayed periods if you are doing strenuous exercises and intense training for several hours a day. 
This happens because you are burning more calories than you are taking in.
Because of this calorie deficiency, the energy level of the body goes down and now the body finds it difficult to keep all its functions running. This can throw off your hormones leading to delayed periods.
To bring back the periods on track you need to lower the intensity of your workout or increase the calorie intake.
Perimenopause is a transitioning period from the reproductive phase of life to the non-reproductive phase. During this time very few eggs are left in a woman’s ovary and so sometimes ovulation doesn’t occur causing a delay in periods. 
The average age of menopause is between 45-55 years of age but nowadays women as young as 35-40 years of age are going under menopause. This is known as premature ovarian failure.  This causes the ovaries to stop working in the way they should. All thanks to our sedentary lifestyle.
Other symptoms of premature ovarian failure include
- Hot flashes
- Trouble in sleeping
- Lack of concentration
- Vaginal dryness
- Decreased sexual desires
IS IT NORMAL TO HAVE DELAYED PERIODS?
There are two times when it is absolutely normal to have delayed or missed periods
It is the onset of periods when a girl hits puberty she starts having her monthly periods but during the initial few months or even years, her menstrual cycle is not on track and it is normal and there is nothing to worry about.
Having said that if you feel that there are other symptoms involved which is not normal like
- Feeling fatigued
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Extreme mood swings
Then probably you must consider seeing a doctor.
Menopause is the exact opposite of menarche.
Menarche is the onset of periods whereas menopause is the end of periods. During this ending time, your menstrual cycle will fluctuate a lot because now there are very few eggs left in your ovaries and it may so happen that sometimes the ovulation will not occur so in that case it is absolutely normal to have missed periods or delayed periods.
The average age of menopause may be somewhere between 45-55 years of age.
5 EFFECTIVE HOME REMEDIES FOR TREATMENT
1. SAY NO TO JUNKS AND YES TO HOME COOKED FOOD
We all love street foods
But you know our taste buds may like these foods, but it is certainly not liked by our body.
This body is given by nature and so it likes the food which is closest to mother nature.
For example, fresh mango fruit is loved more by our body than a mango tart.
So always try to eat food in the form in which nature wants us to eat.
Switch to local vendors instead of going to supermarkets for fruits and vegetables.
Eat local and seasonal fruits and vegetables, the easily available ones.
Sure, once in a while it is okay to satisfy our taste buds but do not make it a habit. Do not replace your home-cooked meal with fast foods.
Your diet plays a very important role in your menstrual cycle. 
Needless to say, ditch processed and packaged food.
2. ENSURE YOU ARE HAVING A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
The menstrual cycle happens because the hormones in our body are released according to the circadian(day-night) rhythm. 
If you do not sleep and get up on time, your hypothalamus and your pituitary glands get confused as to which hormone to produce now and this may disrupt the hormonal balance leading to problems like delayed periods or missed periods.
So ensure that you are having a peaceful and undisturbed sleep of 7-8 hours per day and see how your hormones get balanced and how your periods come back on track.
3. MOVE YOUR BODY
Nowadays problems like PCOD and premature ovarian failure are on a rise, but 30 years back nobody knew that such problems even existed.
Our mothers and grandmothers never had PCOD, they were never obese.
So can you think about what has changed?
Yes, it is our lifestyle. Our mom, her mom, they all remained active throughout the day and their life. They never became couch potatoes like us and that is the reason they are still not touched by these lifestyle disorders like PCOS, premature ovarian failure and obesity.
So if you also want that your body remains disease-free, start moving your body. 
Try to inculcate any type of physical activity in your daily life. Be it playing outdoor games or cycling or swimming or even just a simple walk. Anything you like. Exercises and yoga also help in controlling symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
4. MANAGE YOUR STRESS
Stress has become a part and parcel of everybody’s life these days. Whether it is school, college or workplace, stress follows us everywhere.
This takes a toll on our bodies, leading to all sorts of hormonal imbalances.
Now I know it is not really possible to cut out stress from our lives but surely we can do certain things to manage it.
There are so many techniques for managing stress
Some of them include
- Listening to music
- Playing with pets
- Walk-in greenery
- Pursuing hobby
- Spending me-time
5. SAY NO TO CRASH DIETS
Crash diets are indeed fancy but they can dramatically alter your hormonal balance.  These diets promise extreme weight loss but they are not at all healthy. Never ever go for such diets instead choose something sustainable and something that you can follow your entire life.
Eat food that is an intelligent mix of pulses, grains and other vital nutrients. Do not run blindly behind carbs free or fat-free diets.
Eat food with love and respect, and it will never cause you any harm, it may sound a little cliche but it is true.
5 SUPERFOODS TO PUT YOUR PERIODS BACK ON TRACK
1. CRUSHED CINNAMON 
Cinnamon is believed to increase body heat.
This very factor reduces menstrual cramps and improves the regularity of your menstrual cycle as cinnamon has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties
How to take cinnamon?
Step-1 – Crush a cinnamon stick and pour the powder into a cup.
Step-2 – Add boiling water and stir it well
Step-3 – After 10 minutes, add a tea bag into it and let it sit for 2-3 minutes.
Step-4- Add a teaspoon of sugar or honey to sweeten it and have it daily.
2. RAW PAPAYA 
Raw papaya has anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve menstrual cramps.
It also contains nutrients like iron, carotene, calcium, and vitamin A and C which ease muscle fibre contractions and soothes the uterine walls.
How to eat raw papaya?
Step-1 – Just a couple of days before your periods, get your hands on raw papaya.
Step-2- Cut the fruit into tiny cubes and add a spoonful of yoghurt.
Step-3 – Eat this for breakfast or make it an early evening snack.
3. TURMERIC 
When it comes to regulating your menstrual cycle and balancing your body’s hormone, turmeric does a fantastic job!
Due to its antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties, it also reduces menstrual pain.
How to eat turmeric?
Step-1 – Pour one-quarter teaspoon of turmeric into a cup.
Step-2 – Add a tiny piece of jaggery, a teaspoon of honey and warm milk.
Step-3 – Mix all ingredients well and drink daily.
4. FENNEL SEEDS 
Fennel seeds have emmagonene properties that not only, but also improve menstrual flow.
How to eat fennel seeds?
Step-1 – Drop 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds into a glass of water.
Step- 2- Leave it there to soak overnight.
Step-3 – In the morning, strain the water and gulp the liquid down. Try this every day.
5. PARSLEY JUICE 
Parsley contains apiol which is responsible for regulating and normalizing your menstrual cycle.
Drinking a glass of parsley juice every day will make your menstrual cycle turn healthier and more organised.
How to make parsley juice?
Step-1 -Toss parsley and coriander leaves into the juicer.
Step-2 – Pour the juice into a glass.
Step-3 – Put a tablespoon of sugar or jaggery according to your taste.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
For someone who is undergoing menarche or menopause, it is completely normal to have delayed periods. You may even miss your periods sometimes.
For women who do not fall under these two categories, missing periods for more than 6 weeks is an alarming situation and is a cause of concern.
Apart from delayed periods if you see any of these underlying symptoms do get yourself checked by a doctor to rule out any bigger possibility.
- Any symptoms of PCOD as discussed above
- Any symptoms of thyroid as discussed above
- Feeling overly fatigued and stressed
- Painful periods
- Missing several periods in a row
- Sudden weight loss
- Nausea or vomiting
- If you think your periods are delayed due to overstressing, try to manage the stress.
- If you think you have symptoms of PCOD that is causing problems in periods, change your lifestyle or go for medical help if symptoms are severe.
- If you are underweight, consider taking help from a nutritionist.
- If you think your obesity is causing your periods to delay, again change your lifestyle
- If you feel you have any medical condition, get yourself checked by a doctor without delay.
- If you are on a birth control pill, expect your periods to get delayed. Also, take these pills only under the supervision of your gynaecologist.
- If you are doing any rigorous and strenuous exercise, stop it right away because it can seriously mess up your menstrual cycle.
- If you are heading towards your menopause, period problems will occur. Get ready for that.
Delayed periods, missed periods are a cause of concern and you should not overlook them if you think that this delay is caused due to some abnormal reasons.
Before taking any home remedies or any step to induce periods always rule out the chances of pregnancy.
Our body is not designed in a way that it should experience hormonal imbalances and hormonal disorders. Only we are to be blamed here.
It is still not too late, let’s embrace a healthy lifestyle and say goodbye to all these unwanted lifestyle disorders.
That is the best thing we can do for our bodies.
So are you ready to give up all the unhealthy habits?
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