Delayed Period: Could Your Period Be Late Due to Stress?

How long stress can play a factor in delaying my menstrual cycle? I'm seven late and I'm not sure if it's because I'm wondering if I could be pregnant or some other problem. In the past, I never been quite this late.


Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

The role of common, everyday stress in delaying menses is perhaps overstated. Just remember all those periods during the big exam or on that trip to Europe or on your wedding day! Of course, some women are more sensitive to stress than others, but it sounds like this is unusual for you.

I believe that every woman who is at risk for pregnancy and misses a period should have a pregnancy test done as soon as possible. Most home tests turn positive at one week past the expected time of menses. From date of conception, you need to be two to three weeks. Planned Parenthood or local community clinics may sometimes offer cheaper testing than the home variety and give you the added benefit of providing an examination. Without an examination, gestational age cannot be estimated as precisely and decision counseling would not be available.

Regardless of your decision about the pregnancy, it is important to start care immediately. If you plan on continuing the pregnancy, information on nutrition, folic acid, alcohol, drugs and medications, exercise, lab work and an explanation of all of the testing that is available are all important. You would want to know that this is an intrauterine pregnancy not an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. Tests and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases can prevent many of the complications of pregnancy.

Other symptoms of pregnancy include breast tenderness or fullness, stomach fullness or nausea occurring at any time during the day, frequent urination, fatigue and water retention. In very early pregnancy some women feelg as though they are going to get a period, but it never comes.

Amenorrhea (lack of menses) can have many causes: hormone imbalances (possibly from stress), early premenopause or even pituitary or ovarian tumors. Because this is unusual for you, I would make an appointment with a provider as soon as possible.

Thanks for writing.

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