Habits That Could Be The Reason For Delayed Menstrual Cycle

Reasons for delayed period
Ujaas Team

Did you know that certain regular habits of yours might be one of the several reasons behind your disturbed menstrual cycle?

Well, you may be aware of the fact that intake of hormonal birth control pills or getting pregnant will affect your period. That said, other less-obvious factors, too, can influence your menstrual cycle, leading to delayed periods.

Usually, when you notice a change in your period, there is not much to worry about. If one waits for 2 to 3 months, whatever changes are seen will eventually straighten out.

If you have noticed a recent change, any of the below-mentioned factors could be a potential cause. However, one must always remember that the best way to know the precise reasons for delayed periods is to consult a gynaecologist for a check-up.

  1. 1. Diet can be a reason for delayed period

  2. Consumption of spicy food for a couple of days in a row will not impact your menstrual cycle; however, sustained diet changes may affect periods deleteriously. Usually, if your nutritional intake is not adequate and there is a lack of calories in your daily diet, you could experience delayed periods. When the calorie intake is in excess and there is excess weight gain, with some the periods can get heavy and frequent and in others it can get irregular.

  3. 2. Exercise - Can it delay the period?

  4. Two commonly asked questions are, “can exercise stop your period?” and “can exercise make your period early?” In most cases, commencing with a new exercise routine should not usually affect your menstrual cycle. That said, an extreme regimen (such as training for a marathon or triathlon or performing intense interval training on a regular basis) may cause changes in your menstrual cycle. It may lead to reduced frequency of periods, making them irregular and delayed or even rarely a period shutdown. This is due to the increased intensity of the workout along with sudden weight loss and accompanying hormonal changes. All these changes can send signals to your brain to go on into a temporary pause. When it comes to the question of whether excess and abnormal exercise can stop your period, there is some truth behind it. Similarly, the question of whether exercise can make your period come early is worth considering. There is a lack of scientific evidence.

  5. 3. Stress - A valid reason for period delay

  6. When it comes to reasons for delayed periods, stress is a major factor. Extreme stress can have an impact on your period more quickly in comparison with other lifestyle changes. If you are stressed out, your brain is putting out stress hormones. Thus, stress can delay periods. Thus, your menstrual cycle may abruptly become longer or shorter than the normal duration. So, it is true that stress can delay periods.

    Ujaas, a menstrual health and menstrual hygiene initiative by Aditya Birla Education Trust, has touched the lives of thousands of adolescent girls and young women by empowering them with the knowledge and resources to end period shame and reduce period poverty.

  7. 4. Smoking and Excessive Intake of Alcohol

  8. Both smoking and excessive alcohol intake tend to interfere with one’s menstrual cycle, making periods more irregular.

How smoking can impact periods?

If you smoke, your PMS symptoms (like feeling sad, angry, having trouble sleeping, and cramping) may get worse, even if you don't notice it. A rigorous study from 2020 looked at lots of other studies with over 25,000 people, and found that nicotine in cigarettes made people 1.5 times more likely to have worse PMS symptoms .

If you have PMDD (a more severe type of PMS), smoking can make your symptoms even worse, with the same study finding that PMDD sufferers were 3 times more likely to have worse symptoms. Smoking can also make your menstrual cycle shorter. For example, if you smoke a lot (at least 20 cigarettes a day), you may have a cycle that lasts less than 25 days, which is 4 times more likely than if you don't smoke.

How does alcohol consumption impact your period?

When you drink alcohol, it can change the levels of hormones in your body. Studies have found that after drinking, levels of estrogen (a female hormone) can increase, as well as levels of testosterone and luteinizing hormone (male hormones). One study looked at how drinking affects hormone levels during different parts of a woman's menstrual cycle. They found that certain hormones, like androgen (a male hormone) during the follicular phase and estrogen around ovulation, increased after drinking, and this effect was stronger if someone drank a lot. However, drinking in moderation did not seem to affect a person's menstrual cycle.

    5. Delayed period due to changes in Your Weight

The hormone oestrogen is produced primarily from adipose tissue (which makes up fat) post-menopause. That said, at any time in a woman’s life, any excess fat can produce oestrogen. This means that when fat levels in the body increase, oestrogen levels increase, too. As a result, excessive oestrogen affects the menstrual cycle, leading to missed, irregular periods or, alternatively, heavy periods. An excess of fat cells leads to elevated oestrogen levels, which can eventually stop your ovaries from releasing an ovum. Alternatively, losing weight too quickly may lead to irregular periods. When it comes to oestrogen levels, the body has an opposite reaction when you lose a lot of weight: lack of production of oestrogen in the body. It must be noted that you need proper levels of oestrogen to build up your uterine lining and have a normal period. Thus, when it comes to a sudden change in menstrual cycle length, extreme weight fluctuations are to blame.

  1. 6. Hormonal Fluctuations

Problems with your thyroid gland can affect the regularity of your periods. Thyroid hormones are responsible for energy control in your body, thus affecting many organs. However, when thyroid hormone levels fluctuate, the functioning of your body can change significantly, including your menstrual cycle. Those with an overactive thyroid gland (which means that they produce too much of the thyroid hormone) tend to have shorter period cycles, with more frequent occurrences. The exact opposite is true for those women who do not produce enough thyroid hormone and have an underactive thyroid: less frequent periods.

  1. 7. Period delay due to exposure to Pesticides

According to the findings of a study published in the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, pesticides can be eventually associated with irregular periods. Participants of the study were exposed to pesticides from working and living on farmland. Most participants were then exposed to chemical pesticides that are known to disrupt the endocrine system and cause irregularities in the menstrual cycle. Participants then reported irregularities in the length of their menstrual cycle as well as an absence of their periods for more than 90 days.

The Bottomline

The average period cycle is 28 days. That said, anywhere between 22 and 35 days is considered normal. Major reasons for this are poor diet, over-exercising, too much stress, smoking, excessive intake of alcohol, weight changes, hormonal fluctuations, and exposure to harmful pesticides.