My period is late! When should I worry?
It’s circled in your calendar. You’ve come to school armed with supplies. Every time you go to the loo you’re certain there’s going to be a period puddle in your knickers. You wait and you wait… and you wait. But there’s nothing. Nada. It’s dry as a bone down there. It’s the Serengeti desert. It’s a week-old old digestive biscuit. It’s… well, you get it.
Before you panic, take a deep breath. There are loads of reason your period might be late.
New kid on the block
If you’re new to this period lark, it often takes a bit of time for your body to get into the swing of things. So if you have one period and the next one doesn’t arrive precisely 28 days later, that’s totally normal. It might be months, or in some cases even years, until you have another period. But if you get to your sweet sixteenth and your period still isn’t making a regular appearance, it might be a good idea to have a chat with your GP to see if there could be something else going on.
The seasoned pro
Right, so you’ve got to grips with this whole period thing, it’s been showing up every month, and now it’s suddenly gone AWOL on you. Keep the tampons nearby and take a deep breath, there are plenty of other reasons you may have missed a period.
This could be emotional stress or physical stress if you have been poorly. You can try to ease your stress levels by exercising (yep, that old chestnut), meditating or even taking up yoga – and if things in your head feel overwhelming, talk to an adult you trust about it.
If you’ve recently lost a lot of weight, your body may have stopped producing the hormones you need for ovulation. If you think this might be the reason you’ve missed your period, it’s a good idea to head to your GP so they can check you’re still in a healthy weight range, and talk about ways to stay healthy and get your cycle back on track.
Being overweight or obese:
If you’re overweight your body might be producing too much oestrogen, which can affect how often you have periods. Again, you might want to head to your GP to have a chat about what steps you can take to help stay healthy.
If you’re taking the contraceptive pill you might miss a period every once in while, while other types of contraception such as Mirena coils, implants and the progesterone-only pill can cause you to stop having periods altogether. If you come off hormonal contraception it can take a few months for your periods to return to normal. And if they don’t within three months you should probably pay a visit to your GP just to be on the safe side.
Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome (PCOS):
Polycystic ovaries often affect your ability to ovulate, leading to a skipped period. PCOS is quite common and affects around 1 in 10 women in the UK, and it’s nothing to freak out about. If you want to know more about PCOS, you can read about it here.
Obvs for this one, you need to be sexually active. If that’s not your vibe, then you can rule this one out. But if you are having sex with boys (or even just doing stuff) and your period is late then take a pregnancy test to put your mind at ease. You can get them for a fiver from Superdrug, and have the whole thing over with in minutes.
But when should I go to the doctor?
In this case, three is the magic number. If you’ve skipped three periods and you’re sure you’re not pregnant, you should probably call up your GP and make an appointment so they can see what’s going on. Don’t panic though. The red unicorn is a mysterious beast, but with a little help it can be easy to tame.
TL;DR? Here’s the important stuff:
If you normally have regular periods there are still loads of reasons it might be late: weight loss, weight gain, stress, contraception, PCOS... and yes, pregnancy.
If you miss three periods, make an appointment with your GP to get everything checked out.
When you first start your periods, it’s common to get one and then not have another for months. So breathe, it’s perfectly natural.