It's important to remember you're not alone
Variation in your cycle is totally normal. Even if you're usually like clockwork, there are a number of reasons why your period could be late – from pregnancy to stress, or sudden weight loss or gain. If you've recently had unprotected sex, or if there's a chance your contraception hasn't worked as it should, here are some things to consider.
OTHER CAUSES OF LATE PERIODSThere are many reasons other than pregnancy for your period to be late. Consider these factors, and consult your doctor or nurse if you think one or more apply to you:
Periods can become longer, shorter, or stop altogether because of stress. If you think stress is the reason for a disrupted cycle, try some relaxation techniques and consult your doctor or nurse if your period doesn’t start.
An extreme amount of exercise can disrupt the levels of hormones in your body that trigger a period. If you think your period has stopped because of your workout regime, consult your doctor or nurse.
Weight Loss or Gain
Sudden loss or gain of weight can disrupt the levels of hormones in your body that trigger a period. If your weight has changed suddenly, it’s worth checking in with your doctor or nurse.
Using Long-Acting Contraception
If you are a user of long-acting contraception, this may have an impact on your bleeding pattern. For example, some methods may lead to shorter and lighter bleeding or could stop your periods altogether. This may be the reason for irregularities but is no cause for concern. In any case it is worth checking in with your doctor or nurse if you have questions.
What to do Next
If You're Usually Regular
If you know when your fertile time is, it's easier to decide how likely it is that your period is late because you're pregnant. You can take a pregnancy test as early as the first day of your late period, but it's important to remember that early tests can be unreliable and a negative result is less reliable than a positive one.
If Your Cycle is Irregular
The earliest to take a pregnancy test is 3 weeks after you had unprotected or potentially unprotected sex. A negative result may not be accurate, so wait a week and take another test, or seek advice from your doctor or nurse.
If You Still Have Concerns
If you're still getting negative pregnancy test results and you've missed 3 periods, consult your doctor or nurse for more advice.
ALTERNATIVE CONTRACEPTION METHODS
If your usual contraception recently let you down, if a late period has caused you concern, or if your current method doesn’t fit your lifestyle, consider these contraception methods:
A small, flexible T-shaped plastic frame that releases low levels of hormones. It is placed in your womb by a doctor.
A small, T-shaped plastic frame with a copper wire that is placed in your womb by a doctor.
A small, flexible silicone rod that releases hormones. It is placed under the skin of your upper arm by a doctor.
A shot containing progestin that is effective for up to three months. It is administered by a doctor.
NEED ADVICE? SPEAK TO YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL
Seek out an appointment with your doctor or nurse for further support that is specific to you and your lifestyle.