The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days. Our lives impact our hormones, and therefore our cycles—for example, stress can delay your period. Some variation is to be expected, but bigger fluctuations are reason to investigate.
The menstrual cycle doesn’t have the predictability of clockwork. Variability is actually normal, especially for young girls during their first few years of menstruation. Many hormonal changes take place during puberty, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it takes some time for the menstrual cycle to settle into a rhythm.
In most popular media, a late period can only mean one thing—pregnancy. It’s a very real possibility, but not the only potential cause. Stress, a disrupted sleep-wake cycle, eating disorders and intense physical activity may delay or even make you skip your period. Certain medication and hormonal contraception can also affect your cycle.
Smaller fluctuations are absolutely normal, however strange or unpredictable changes may indicate health problems. There are symptoms that are more likely to indicate problems than others. Heavy bleeding and intense pain in the lower abdomen may indicate a myoma or endometriosis.
What other causes are there for irregular periods? How is this condition treated? Read more about Irregular Periods here.