When your period goes missing, is late, delayed, or just seems to be taking its sweet time to really start, it can be stressful, and of course you worry that you might be pregnant when you didn’t plan to be. We like to know when our period is coming and when it doesn’t show up it can create panic. The irony here is that the reason your period is delayed is, frequently, because of stress. It can be stress you’ve experienced earlier in your cycle or even the stress you’re experiencing waiting for your period – both can actually make your period late.
Of course, this is only true when you discount the other common reasons for a late period, like pregnancy, if you’re breastfeeding, if you have PCOS, if you’re entering perimenopause or menopause, if you have a thyroid problem, and if you’ve recently come off hormonal birth control. If none of these reasons can account for your late period, then one of the top causes is stress.
Stress causes late periods by the way it disrupts your hormonal patterns. Your hormones need to meet certain levels and follow certain patterns in order to trigger both ovulation and your period. If stress gets in the way this can cause a messed up cycle. Stress causes a rise in stress hormones, specifically cortisol, and cortisol affects your other hormones – the levels produced and their interaction.
5 things to know about stress and your period
- Stress raises cortisol levels and disrupts your blood sugar which disrupts your ovulation and period.
- Stress hormone cortisol blocks progesterone production and lowers progesterone levels. Your body actually uses your progesterone to make more cortisol to react and respond to the stress. This can not only mess with your cycle, but make it difficult for you to conceive.
- Stress around the time you normally ovulate can delay or even prevent ovulation. Cortisol can suppress ovulation. This makes sense – a pregnancy on top of a stressful period in a person’s life is not ideal. Your body in a way is trying to keep your energy available to address the stress before conception takes place.
- Stress post-ovulation can cause hormonal imbalance. If you do ovulate and stress comes later in your cycle, it can potentially cause spotting, an early period or a period that looks or feels different to your norm (in consistency, color, length, or symptoms like cramping).
- A late period may not be considered a period at all – it’s more of a breakthrough bleed. You didn’t ovulate, so it’s not a physiological period – however, your uterus still needs to shed the lining it has built up.
Your hormonal cycle is a chain reaction. If one stage of your cycle does not occur as it should, the following stages will not receive the correct triggers. When your ovary releases an egg, the ruptured egg sack produces progesterone. The increase of progesterone in your body encourages the buildup and eventual release of the lining of your uterus, aka your period.
I’m an advocate for listening to your body and a late period is your body saying something loud and clear, but what exactly is your body trying to tell you? A messed up cycle is a message. It’s a call-to-action from your body.
If you don’t have reason to believe that any of the other causes I’ve mentioned above are behind your late period, then it might be stress.
Your late period is your body telling you that you are under constant or chronic levels of stress. If you want to ovulate again you need to work on living a less stressed life. Not ovulating is not just an issue if you want to conceive, it also sets you up for more hormonal symptoms and period problems – everything from PMS, to acne, to cramps. A late period is more than just a nuisance or inconvenience, it’s also going to come with a bunch of other health issues.
Once you period is late, there’s not much you can do to make your period come when you want during that cycle. But you can avoid future late periods by taking action today.
3 steps to avoid stress-delayed periods
- Take a Healing Bath – Stressors can be unavoidable, but your response to stress is in your hands. This can mean a deeply relaxing bath 3 times a week with epsom salts and essential oils. It can mean reading a good work of fiction before bed each night. It can mean getting creative – taking a painting class or just doing some coloring at home. You can use your menstrual cycle to sync your schedule to your hormonal patterns – making everything feel easier and less like an uphill struggle. It can also mean making time for more pleasure in your life, and I don’t just mean sex. Or all of the above, which is real “extreme” self-care and most effective.
- Go on a Sleep Diet – Poor sleep or a mixed up sleep schedule (staying up past midnight and waking up late) all makes for a stressed-out situation. Physiologically sleeping badly will cause high levels of stress hormone. But it also means you’ll always feel like you’re running to catch up. When you’re in bed by 10pm and up by 6:30am you will feel more in control and have some time in the morning to get centered and ready for your day. Put yourself on a “Sleep Diet” to have this sleep schedule every day for 21 days.
- Try Maca – When we’re stressed we often have the knee-jerk reaction of reaching for the coffee in the morning (we think it’ll help us get everything done!) and alcohol at night (we think it’ll help us unwind!). Both of these things raise your cortisol levels and actually make you more stressed in the long run. Detox from coffee and manage your alcohol intake to avoid chronic stress. Try maca root powder for the energy boost you’re seeking – this adaptogen can give you pep without harming your sleep schedule.
Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!
to your FLO,
Good things come in threes:
I want to hear from you!
First, is your period late?
Second, do you feel stressed?
Third, everyone you know is hormonal – spread a little good ovary karma and share this article on social 😉
Is Your Period Healthy?
How do you know if your hormones are healthy? The answer is in your 5th vital sign – your period.
The color of your flow, frequency of your period, and symptoms you have each month can tell you a lot about your health. There are 5 different V-SIGN TYPES, and knowing which one you have will help you get healthy now and prevent disease in the future.