The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, although it’s normal for a menstrual cycle to be anywhere from 21 to 35 days, and this can vary by a few days each cycle without being considered late.
Can stress delay your period?
A general rule of thumb is that a period is considered late if it is delayed by five days or more.
Anyone who gets a period will probably experience a late period at least once in their life. It may come as a surprise that stress is actually a very common cause for a late period. If a period is delayed due to stress, how late it is depends on many factors, including the amount of stress, coping abilities, and the person’s individual cycle.
If the stress is acute, your period might only be a few days late, but some people who experience severe chronic stress can go months without getting a period.
A few ways to get your period back on track
Getting your period back on track might be possible by eliminating the unhealthy stressors in your life. If that’s not possible, learning and adopting new coping strategies might work.
- Make time to relax
- Cut back on caffeine and alcohol
- Prioritize healthy sleep
If you have experienced delayed periods in the past, it can be quite helpful to track your moods, changes in diet, new medication, or big life events. This will help you better identify what some of your stressors are. The Flo app can help you with this.
Here are a few ways to reduce stress and get your period back on track:
Make time to relax
The best way to reduce stress is to relax. Meditation, exercise, journaling, coloring books, art, and knitting are all ways to relax. Some, all, or even none of these may work for you, but figuring out what you enjoy for relaxation will make it easier for you to develop and follow through with a plan for relaxing when you are stressed out. You can try a meditation app on this link.
Cut back on caffeine and alcohol
Both alcohol and caffeine can increase cortisol levels, so it’s recommended that you reduce your intake of both of these when dealing with major life changes, going through a rough patch, or nearing your menstrual cycle. Instead, you might try decaffeinated beverages or herbal teas that are known to have calming effects, such as chamomile or lavender.
Prioritize healthy sleep
Getting better sleep is often one of the best ways to overcome stress. Often, we focus on the quantity of sleep, but quality is also important. Most people need about 7–9 hours of sleep to really refresh themselves. Sticking to a sleep schedule and routine can help improve your quality of sleep.
Avoiding screens for a few hours before you go to bed, wearing a sleep mask, and using a white noise machine can all make falling asleep and staying asleep easier. This will allow the body to fall into a proper sleep rhythm which can lower the chance of insomnia.