Don't PanicFor the last week or so, I’ve been somewhat convinced that I’m pregnant. For the most part, this belief was paranoid, but also not entirely outside the realm of possibility. I had a proper French affair when I was in Paris a few weeks ago and at one point there was a broken condom situation, though we realized it was broken and replaced it with a fresh one prior to, ahem, any fluids reaching their apex, so to speak. But I know how babies are made and I’m a total hypochondriac, so when my period failed to arrive on the day it was supposed to, and the day after, and the day after that, and I started feeling gassier than usual, well, I began to panic. I started to type “gas sign of” into Google and the search engine, seemingly reading my mind, autofilled the rest with “early pregnancy.”

Oh god, I thought. It was all but confirmed.

“Everyone, I think I might be carrying the French waiter’s baby,” I announced dramatically to my coworkers.

“I really doubt that,” said Ami, “But why don’t you take a pregnancy test to be sure.”

As practical as that idea sounded, I wasn’t quite ready for confirmation of the status of my uterus just yet — mostly because I didn’t quite know how I felt about possibly being pregnant — so I decided to research all the possible reasons for why my normally prompt period might be late and I (and you, if you’re in a similar situation) shouldn’t be panicking. Here are the seven most likely reasons your period might be late besidespregnancy … and if you make it to the end, you’ll find out whether or not my panicking was all for naught.

1. A Change In Your Regular Routine: Did you start a new job? Change your wakeup time? Go on vacation? It can take your body a little time to adjust to a change in your regular routine and that can impact your regular cycle, especially if the change started at the time you would normally ovulate, causing a delay or even a skipped cycle.

Likelihood That This Is Impacting My Period: Moderate. I mean, I did just spend a week doing nothing but eating cheese and drinking wine in France. Usually my routine consists of working and then eating cheese and drinking wine, so…

2. Stress: Your emotions, particularly stress, can have a major impact on the regularity of your menstrual cycle. And if you’re stressing about why your period is late, that could actually delay its arrival even more. Mother Nature is a cruel mistress!

Likelihood That This Is Impacting My Period: High. Looking back over the last few months, I’ve been stresseda lot — about my dad’s death and dealing with his estate, about work, etcetera — and I might just be seeing the effects of that on my cycle now.

3. Illness: Being sick at the time you normally would ovulate can delay ovulation — and if you ovulate late, you’ll get your period late. So if your period hasn’t arrived on schedule, think back a few weeks — were you under the weather?

Likelihood That This Is Impacting My Period: Minor. I haven’t been sick recently, unless you count being hungover.

4. Pill Poppin’: Taking a new medication or changing the dosage on an existing medication can affect all aspects of your body’s well-being, including your menstrual cycle — that’s why your doctor, including your gynecologist, always wants to know each and every medication that you’re on.

Likelihood That This Is Impacting My Period: Minor. I’m on a couple of medications, but have been for while and haven’t changed my dosages at all.

5. Weight Issues: A major change in your weight — either by gaining a lot or losing a lot of weight — can throw your ovulation cycle off. People who are underweight or extremely overweight sometimes don’t have a period at all — which is not very healthy. Overall, an incredibly wonky or nonexistent period is a sign of possible health issues.

Likelihood That This Is Impacting My Period: Minor. Well, I’ve gradually gained maybe 7-10 pounds over the last year, but I don’t consider that a “major” change in my weight — my weight has generally fluctuated by the same 5-10 lbs for years.

6. Exercising Excessively: Have you been hitting Soul Cycle every day after work? Training for a marathon? If you’ve taken up a new and intense exercise routine, your period might be thrown off. In fact, people who engage in extreme physical activity sometimes see their periods delayed.

Likelihood That This Is Impacting My Period: Minor. Um, I’ve been to yoga, like, four times in the last four months. I took my first Soul Cycle class ever last night and it was awesome but rough. The most exercise I generally get is from manically cleaning my apartment or walking my dog. Fitness fiend, I am not.

7. Miscalculation: The average menstrual cycle is 28 days, but many, many women have shorter or longer cycles and don’t chart them correctly — so it may be that your period is not actually late. Additionally, the majority of women have cycles that are irregular and don’t necessarily realize it. If your period is early even by a few days one month, it may arrive late the following month.

Likelihood That This Is Impacting My Period: Major. As I obsessively looked back through my calendar and tried to remember when I had my last few periods, I realized that the first day of each period was either a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. I had always thought of myself as having a regular ol’ 28 cycle. but clearly I don’t; clearly my cycle is slightly irregular and so what I consider “late” may not actually be late.

These are a few of the more basic, every day reasons that an otherwise healthy woman, who is not pregnant, might have a late period. There are of course other, more serious reasons — a thyroid condition, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or an eating disorder for example. If you’ve taken a negative pregnancy test and your period is more than a couple weeks late, you should see your gynecologist just to make sure everything is a-okay.

As for me? I took a pregnancy test on Saturday morning, the most nerve-racking experience ever because I had to drink, like, a gallon of water before I felt like I had to pee enough. After three minutes, I got my answer — Not Pregnant. No baby Fracois or Amelie for me. A tiny, tiny part of me felt a little sad — I’m planning on having a baby in the next three years — but I mostly felt relieved, because I am really committed to having a child on my own terms, at the right time.

Oh, and sure enough, Sunday morning, I got my period.

This post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.

  • mEE

    ugh I remember those panic stricken days in my late teens/early 20s, feverishly checking the calendar. even though I was always using protection, I’m also slightly a hypochondriac and every single time my period was late I just KNEW I was pregnant. never was.
    but for the past 4 years my period has been abnormally regular. it’s this amazing phenomenon. I can almost set my clock to it. always, ALWAYS every 4th Wednesday between 7am and 9am. I am not even joking. I thank goodness because there are no more embarrassing surprises like when I was an adolescent.

  • dbsm

    There is a lot that many women do not know about menstrual cycles. What is taught in the schools is not adequate, and by the time girls grow up and feel it relevant, the lessons are a faded memory. This is why I am sensitive to people who bash women about getting pregnant and always talking about hormonal birth control and condoms. If women AND MEN knew more about menstrual cycles, we could curb some of the mayhem.

    There are many reasons for delayed menstruation and there are also many misconceptions about regularity. Many women (and I am talking about grown ass women, not teens) think that if their period started on the 15th of said month, then it should always be on the 15th of any month. Obviously, due to variation in the length of days in each month, this should not be true. But just think how something as simple as that is misunderstood.

    The average cycle is between 28 and 32 days long. But this does not mean 27 and 33 days long is abnormal. This also does not mean that in a given lifetime, year, season, quarter or whathaveyou, that you will be 28, 29, 30, etc days consistently.

    Even more interesting is that you can menstruate without ovulating or ovulate without menstruating.

    And if you suspect pregnancy and you start to “menstruate,” make sure that it is not implantation bleeding (which tends to be different from your regular flow) or impending spontaneous abortion (in which case you probably missed your period some time ago).

    Thank you for providing this article which gives an overall gist.

  • Kay

    I once didn’t have my period for two months. I was training really hard at the time (I was a runner and did track) and apparently if you are an athlete, sometimes you will experience cessation of your menstrual cycle. I was soooo scared!! Even though I knew it probably wasn’t likely, I still thought I may have been pregnant. After a thorough examination and the reassurance of a trained medical professional that I was NOT pregnant, I learned that there are lots of causes for missing a period. I learned even young women can go through menopause or have some other ailment so it’s best to go to the doctor anyway.

  • ChaCha1

    Every February always makes mine about 10-14 days late.

  • BeanBean

    I would probably pass out if my period was late. Mine has always been almost exactly 28 days apart, except February, that month throws things off. For some reason it always happens between 2-4am, strange!

  • Apple

    Let me tell you something .. one time. Didn’t come for 2-3 months and I was happy Because that shit is painful

  • IslandgirlDesi

    I will be 40 in June but I notice a difference in my cycle starting when I was 38. It use to be regular lasting only 3 days now that I’m getting older it is now 5-6 days; heavy on the first 2 days and moderate on the remainder. I think it also has to do with age or maybe its just my logic. So I no longer go by “it will come on this day around this time”. I plan knowing that “someday this week” the fun crasher will appear .

  • SimoneL

    I’ve realized the power of stress a few times. during the days before my wedding, I noticed my period was late. I told my husband ” it’s the stress”. Now, the “stress” is 5 years old. We call him Xavier. Another time, my mom came to visit and my period was two days late. It came the day after she left. Stress will eff your cycle up!! So will pregnancy..

  • UgoBabeeee

    buhahahahahaaaa….that was funny as hell!!! @ stress is 5 y.o.

  • http://gravatar.com/tjraphael Sol

    Thank you for posting this. I just started a new job during the two weeks I was supposed to be ovulating, and took on a major new schedule at the same time (I now work 6:30 AM – 3:00 PM instead of 9:00 – 5:00 like I was) in a highly stressful job. I religiously take my birth control pills and I’m two days late (i.e. the placebos have ended and it still hasn’t come).

    Last month I started a new type of birth control and I got my period WAY earlier than I normally do, and it also lasted longer. I’ve also been travelling every other week for the last two months. I’ve had some cramping but have been spending almost every waking moment for the last 3 days wondering about WHERE IT IS? It’s nice to see that I have most of the things on this list. I’ll post back and let you know what happens for anyone in my situation that’s reading this..

  • http://gravatar.com/tjraphael Sol

    Also I took a pregnancy test two days ago on the last day of my placebos and it said I was negative..It had been about a week since I last had sex..if it doesn’t come in a few days I’m going to take another test..I’ll post back and let you know either way for whoever was searching for an answer like me…

  • sybil

    MY LAST CYCLE WAS MAY 12 AND LASTED A WEEK. I DID NOT GET MS LAST MONTH. ABOUT TWO DAYS AGO I HAD MILD CRAMPS IN MY RIGHT SIDE AND LATER THAT DAY I NOTICED BROWNISH LIKE DRIED BLOOD IN MY PANTIES. I ONLY HAD IT THAT ONE DAY AND NOW IM SO CONFUSED I DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO. I HAD MILD CRAMPS AGAIN TODAY FOR LIKE 5 MINUTES BUT NO SPOTTING. I NEED HELP!

  • TRICIA

    Girl, you might be pregnant. The brownish stuff on your panties maybe implanting bleeding because that’s usually the colour when that occurs.You need to take a pregnancy test or visit your obgyn. Good luck!

  • sybil

    I took one today it said negative. im so confused at this point

  • SoontobeMrs

    I could use some moral support! I am three days late. That is not normal for me. I am also NINE days away from my wedding. I have taken two pregnancy tests… Both negative. Fiancé and I use condoms with no mishaps. I don’t know how I’d be pregnant, but all the stress is driving me bonkers. And.. Can I drink at my bachelorette party? My body is making me crazy… Which I know is not helping matters. I feel like I have a rabid, unending case pms.

  • http://gravatar.com/tjraphael Sol

    Sol here. Well my period FINALLY came, it was just a month late. I was taking a low, low estrogen birth control pill and my doctor said that I basically wasn’t getting enough estrogen to produce a period. My stress and schedule changes only compounded those facts. Anywhoo, it came but I am switching pills.

  • Priscilla

    I am teen right now and am not sexually active. I have missed my period for like 6 days now. I am worried. I know I probably should not be. :) I really want to know what is wrong with me!!

  • http://www.clutchmagonlin samantha

    Thanks for that bit of info.i am in a state of panic for apart of me wants a child but at the moment would be a wrong timing

  • Vanessa

    What should i do if my period is late almost a week can somebody help me plz

  • brianna

    uhmm… take a test. That would be logical

  • brittney

    I really like this my period is 2 weeks late and I have 2 not pregnant tests but I have never missed a period or been this late with out being pregnant but I also have always got a positive result on a test a few days after my missed period im trying not to stress about it but the stress in my life is not helping and I did start a new pill for anxiety about a month and a half ago so I’m guessing all the stress and this pill are effecting it everytime I go to the bathroom in like ugh no blood I never thought I would be praying to bleed lol

  • blue8embers

    I love this! hahahh it soooo sounds like me. I can be a bit of a hypochondriac, and if my period is even a day or two late I start worrying. I get myself all worked up about it, then I take a pregnancy test and once it says “Nope, no baby” then it’s like my uterus falls in line and the very next day BAM! there she is… I wonder how much our minds control our periods?…

  • Jane

    The article I’ve been looking for!!

  • Worried teen

    This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. An article to ease my worry of the thought of being pregnant. My period is currently 2 days late and every time I go to the bathroom I hope and pray I’ve started. But every time, I didn’t. I’m 18, I can’t have a kid. My boyfriend and I haven’t been together long enough for a kid. Neither of us are in a stable place in our lives to even think about a kid. *fingers crossed* when is too soon to take a test?

  • MM156

    This article is a godsend. Thank you. I have an IUD and my probability of an unexpected pregnancy is low, but I’m in a new relationship so my level of activity is, ahem, higher than normal. I’m technically two days late according to the app I use to track it on my phone, but looking back over the last year, I’ve been anywhere from right on time to 5 days late according to this thing. I suppose I have a few more days before I REALLY need to panic. (Except that my obsessing is probably delaying it more… ahh!) Reading this has helped ease my mind a bit.

  • Simone L

    I shit you not this article is on point. The first time my mom came to visit my family after we moved from her home stressed me out so bad my period was two days late. Day after she left POOF! Crimson tide.

  • Areli

    I am 22 years old I have one little girl.. I haven’t has my period for 2 months the first month I had spotting around when my period should’ve started .. I’ve taken pregnancy test at home and they all come out negative now in two months late.. I’m not stressed out… I’ve always workout for the past year my weights been constant I eat right.. I’m not sick …. I have no pregnancy symptoms ..,. I do Zumba 5 x a week not on weekends.. What can be wrong with me?

  • Areli

    Also I’ve always had regular period I was not on birth control I only used condoms.. When I did loose weight my period was only one week late thought I was preto but then my period came the next day after I took the pregnancy test .,, now it’s 2 months late!! Please any advise?

  • Nicole

    I just took at test, I’m not pregnant . Bad part of this statement , I haven’t had a period in almost three months. I will be 27 in a couple days, actually got my tubal ligation 3 years ago and nothing really new. No weight gain or loss I have actually been very calm lately. Nothing really different and I actually been waking up to bad cramps. Definitely making an appointment . My roommate said cancer I have had 5 tests for cervical cancer and they have all come up abnormal. Not letting anything worry me till I get to the doctor and hear it from her.

  • Alissa

    Wow! This article (or whatever it is called) really relieved my stress level. I’m 12 and I was so worried because my second period was late. Thx!!!

  • Kyna

    So my period is 6 days late and none of the 7 things above are going on with me. So idk what to do.

  • yazmin

    Majes two mines a couple weeks late and pregnancy test says negative.

  • Deedee

    So I been diagnosed with hpv and I know that doesn’t effect my period buti just had my period and it was suppose to come 3 days ago. what does this possibly means?

  • sara

    Kind of a long story please help .
    Ok so I use this app and it says I should of gotten my period 5 days ago . I was sexually active 3 days before I should of got it . I started getting worried so I check the app and noticed I had my period 15 days before that date . Should I be worried . The app hasnt been wrong before but then again it has never put my periods so close together . Jan-feb was 24 days apart ..feb to march was 19 days apart march to late march was 17 days apart…. now march to april was supposed to be 15 days

  • Stephanie

    Still freaked out, no period this month or last month. February I had 2 and January I had 1 period. Ugh!

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