A period that is a few days late is not usually a cause for concern. But, a few weeks late may be a sign of pregnancy or an underlying condition. Factors like weight change and stress can affect your cycle.

If you don’t have any known condition affecting your menstrual cycle, your period should start within 24 to 38 days of your last period, depending on your usual cycle.

If you’re 7 days past your expected due date, it is considered late. After 6 weeks, you can consider your late period a missed period.

If your period is a day or two later than usually, it’s unlikely to be an immediate cause for concern. Variations in menses can occur due to various reasons.

Several things can delay your period, from basic lifestyle changes to chronic health conditions. Here’s a look at 10 possible causes.

High stress levels can lead to irregular menstruation.

Your body’s stress-response system is rooted in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. While you may no longer be running from predators, your body is still hardwired to react as if you were.

When your stress level peaks, your brain tells your endocrine system to flood your body with hormones that switch on your fight-or-flight mode. These hormones suppress functions, including those of your reproductive system, that are not essential to escaping an imminent threat.

If you’re under a lot of stress, your body can stay in fight-or-flight mode, which can make you temporarily stop ovulating. This lack of ovulation, in turn, can delay your period.

Severe changes in body weight can affect your period’s timing. Extreme increases or decreases in body fat, for example, can lead to a hormonal imbalance that causes your period to come late or stop entirely.

In addition, severe calorie restriction affects the part of your brain that “talks” to your endocrine system and gives instructions for the creation of reproductive hormones. When this communication channel is disrupted, hormonal patterns can change.

A strenuous exercise regimen can also cause missed or irregular periods. This is most common in those who train for several hours a day. It happens because, whether intentionally or not, you’re burning more calories than you’re taking in.

When you burn too many calories, your body doesn’t have enough energy to keep all its systems running. More strenuous workouts can increase hormone release that can affect your menstruation.

Periods typically go back to normal as soon as you lessen training intensity or increase your caloric intake.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a set of symptoms caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. Many people with PCOS do not ovulate regularly.

As a result, your periods may:

  • be lighter or heavier than standard periods
  • arrive at inconsistent times
  • disappear altogether

Other PCOS symptoms can include:

  • excess or coarse facial and body hair
  • acne on the face and body
  • thinning hair
  • weight gain or trouble losing weight
  • dark patches of skin, often on the neck creases, groin, and underneath breasts
  • skin tags in the armpits or neck
  • infertility

Many people love the pill because it makes their periods so regular. However, it can sometimes have the opposite effect, especially during the first few months of use.

Similarly, when you stop taking the pill, it can take a few months for your cycle to get back to normal. As your body returns to its baseline hormone levels, you may miss your period for a few months.

If you’re using another hormonal birth control method, such as an intrauterine device (IUD), implant, or shot, you might completely stop getting your period.

Perimenopause is the time leading up to your menopausal transition. It typically starts in your mid- to late 40s. Perimenopause can last for several years before your period stops completely.

For many, missed periods are the first sign of perimenopause.

You may skip a period 1 month and be back on track for the following 3 months. Or, you may skip your period 3 months in a row and find that it arrives unexpectedly, often lighter or heavier than you’re used to.

Early menopause, also known as premature ovarian insufficiency, happens when your ovaries stop working before you turn 40.

When your ovaries are not working the way they should, they stop producing multiple hormones, including estrogen. As your estrogen levels drop to all-time lows, you will begin to experience the symptoms of menopause.

Late or missed periods may be an early sign. You may also experience:

Other signs of premature ovarian insufficiency include:

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that produces hormones that help regulate many activities in your body, including your menstrual cycle. There are several common thyroid conditions, including hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can affect your menstrual cycle and cause irregularity, but hyperthyroidism is more likely to cause late or missed periods. Sometimes, your period may disappear for several months.

Other symptoms of a thyroid issue include:

Certain chronic health problems, especially celiac disease and diabetes, are sometimes associated with menstrual irregularities.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects your digestive system. When people with celiac disease eat gluten, their immune system reacts by attacking the lining of the small intestine.

When the small intestine is damaged, it impairs the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food. This can lead to malnourishment, which affects normal hormone production and leads to missed periods and other menstrual irregularities.

Those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes might also experience a missed period in rare cases. This tends to only happen when blood sugar levels are not managed.

Amenorrhea is when you stop having periods for 6 months or more. It is normal during pregnancy, but it can also be a sign of an underlying condition, such as:

  • problems affecting the hormonal system
  • a tumor
  • a condition you were born with, such as Cushing syndrome

Treatment for amenorrhea will depend on the cause.

If there’s a chance you may be pregnant and your cycles are typically regular, it may be time to take a pregnancy test.

It’s best to do this about 1 week after your period was supposed to start. Taking a test too early can result in the test being negative even if you’re pregnant, as it’s too early for the test to pick up the pregnancy hormone in the urine.

If your periods are typically irregular, it can be harder to find the right time to take a pregnancy test. You may want to take a few tests over the course of several weeks, or talk with a healthcare professional to be sure.

Other early symptoms of pregnancy to watch for include:

Can periods be late by 10 days?

If your period is seven days late, it’s considered late. If you’ve gone 6 weeks without a period, it’s called a missed period. This can and does happen, and there are many possible reasons.

What is considered a missed period?

What you can consider a very late period will depend partially on your cycle. Menstrual cycles can vary widely, usually from 24–38 days. If you go 6 weeks without a period, it’s considered a missed period.

Can my period be late but I’m not pregnant?

Pregnancy is not the only reason for a late or missed period. Other factors include excessive exercise, changes in body weight, and stress. Maybe you are pregnant but tried a pregnancy test too early to confirm the result. If applicable, try testing again 21 days after you had unprotected sex.

Am I pregnant or is my period delayed for another reason?

People’s menstrual patterns vary widely, and periods can be late for various reasons besides pregnancy. If you miss a period and this is unusual for you, it’s a good idea to seek medical advice. Also, see a doctor if you miss a period and a pregnancy test shows negative but you have other symptoms. It could be a sign of an underlying condition that needs medical attention.

Can I be pregnant if I got my period 5 days late?

Menstrual cycles are different for everyone, so five days can be too short of a delay to indicate pregnancy for some people. That said, if your period is always on time, or if you want to know, you can take a pregnancy test. For the most accurate results, it’s a good idea to wait at least a week after your missed period date.

What are other signs of a late period?

Besides not getting your period at the expected time, you might not experience other symptoms that you typically experience before or during your period such as tender breasts, mood swings, or fatigue. That said, not everyone experiences such symptoms with their periods.

Your period is generally considered late if it has not occurred within your cycle’s usual time frame since the start of your last period.

Many things can cause this to happen, from routine lifestyle changes to underlying medical conditions. If your period is regularly late, make an appointment with a healthcare professional to determine the cause.