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Delayed menstruation is a common problem with several potential causes, and pregnancy is absolutely not the only one. Stress can be an enormous contributing factor, but besides this, inadequate nutrition or excessive exercising could be the one to blame.

One Experience Of Delayed Menstruation

“I have a sister who has been having irregular periods since she started menstruating. The menses themselves started late for her, at age 18. She is now 24 and has been married for over a year. The problem of irregular periods and delayed menstruations still continues. I know she has visited gynecologists, and a couple of them have suggested laparoscopy. I also know she was taking medication to regulate her periods. Her periods have been regular for as long as she has been taken the medication. At the moment, she is not using medicines, so her last period started about 2 months ago. I was wondering if she might be pregnant, but the test came back negative.”
 
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Since delayed menstruation is a common problem, it is hard to believe there are so many myths and misinformation about the causes of amenorrhea. We need to learn more and to hear about the reasons and possible treatments, therapies and prevention of delayed menstruation.

What Is Delayed Menstruation?

Delayed menstruation is a problem called amenorrhea in medical terms. Of course, there are periods in life when causes of delayed menstruation or the complete absence of menstrual periods are perfectly normal; this is called natural amenorrhea and it occurs during pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause.

But there are also situations in life when women's lifestyles could have more of an impact on their delayed menstruation [1]:

  • Stress can be an enormous contributing factor
  • Inadequate nutrition or being underweight (being approximately 10% under normal weight may interrupt ovulation)
  • Rigorous exercise, such as in professional athletes

Women should be aware that taking specific medication (not just contraceptives) may cause delayed menstruation or the even absence of menstrual periods [2, 3]:

  • Antipsychotics
  • Cancer chemotherapy
  • Antidepressants
  • Blood pressure drugs
  • Allergy medications

Medical problems that may cause hormonal imbalance are often be related to delayed menstruation as well [4]:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Overactive or underactive thyroid (hyperthyroid or hypothyroid)
  • Pituitary tumor
  • Premature menopause – when menopause starts before age 40

And of course, there are structural and anatomical problems that can potentially cause delayed menstruation [5]:

  • Uterine scarring
  • Lack of reproductive organs or a structural abnormality of the vagina
In some cases, the answer to attaining a regular menstrual cycle lies in focusing on healthier lifestyle habits: cutting down exercising in professional athletes, eating properly, and concentrating on food and herbs that nourish the body and help alleviate the stress in life.

In other cases, such as those where a woman is taking medicines, has a hormonal imbalance, or has structural problems, a woman should talk to her heathcare provider. An increased focus on improving her lifestyle habits is very welcome, but working on improving lifestyle habits alone probably won’t solve the problem of delayed menstruation.

A woman should also pamper herself a bit. There is nothing wrong with indulging in a warm, soothing bath every evening about the time that your menstrual period should begin. You could also add a little lavender oil or perhaps some Ylang Ylang. It would be nice to burn some candles, play some soothing music, and be nice to yourself.

Lavender is an herb known for its soothing and relaxing properties [6]. At the same time, Ylang Ylang is a powerful uterine contractor [7]. There are also aromatic botanical baths on the market that will make the discomforts of a woman’s pre-monthly cycle easier.

Even science isn’t sure whether menstrual synchrony is a myth, but the old wives' tale is: be around other women who are menstruating. Menstrual synchrony, also called the McClintock effect, is the alleged process whereby women who begin living together in close proximity see their menstrual cycle onsets become closer together in time than previously. Pheromones released during menstruation seem to trigger a response in other women. There are studies that dismiss this thesis and claim menstrual synchrony is a myth, [8] but being around other menstruating women definitely won't harm you.

What could cause a delayed menstruation?

The first thought of every woman after her first delayed menstruation is pregnancy. In such moments, home pregnancy tests are the best solution. However, if the woman is not pregnant, then her delayed period could be caused by something else – we have mentioned the potential causes on the previous page [2,3,4,5].  When your period does not show up on schedule, it can be a bit un-nerving, especially for a sexually active woman.

Pregnancy, of course, is not the only possible cause of a delayed menstruation. There are many factors both within our bodies and in our lives that can cause ovulation as well as menstruation to be delayed. Most often when pregnancy is not a factor, the cause of menstrual delay is that ovulation did not occur on schedule, which is why menstruation is delayed as well. The natural process is that in order for menstruation to occur, ovulation has to happen first (this, of course, is not always the case).

Then menstruation follows 14 days later – unless conception occurs. The 14 day period between ovulation and menstruation is pretty consistent for everyone, but if ovulation has not yet occurred, it is unlikely that herbs will cause menstruation to begin. The body has to complete its cycle before it will be able to bleed. In cases where menstruation is just late, it is recommended that you relax and wait, supporting the body's reactions in whatever it needs to do.

Herbs for delayed menstruation

Herbal remedies for delayed menstruation

It is well known that herbs can alleviate the problem of delayed menstruation. Specifically, liver-cleansing herbs like dandelion root [9, 10] and burdock root [11] might help. You could try to get things heading in the right direction this way. Someone with a history of cycle irregularity and unpredictability might want to include some chaste tree berries [12] as a morning supplement to give those ovaries some tender-loving-care.

Looking for outside professional help can only help your healing process. An herbalist or naturopathic doctor will help correct the imbalances naturally and gently, and allow you to take an active role in the process.

Actually, many people believe delayed menstruation is a message the body is sending — it is the cause of the delayed menstruation that needs to be addressed, not the delayed menstruation itself.  There must be a reason why menstruation is late, or why a woman has delayed menstruation. If the cause is not pregnancy, then the delayed period is either related to physical reasons or emotional ones.

Women who want to see if an herb can help get their period started could start with parsley, a very mild herb and actually pretty good for health. Plus, it has worked really well for many people in the past, and the flavor is not bad. Drinking 3 or 4 cups a day to see if you can coax your period on should be fine. Women often had it start by the next day, but if your body is not ready and menstruation does not start, just give it a week and try again. The point is that this herb is high in calcium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, vitamin C, and very high in potassium and vitamin A.

There are other mild herbs which can be used safely and effectively as well to relieve the problem of delayed menstruation. These herbs are collectively called emmenagogues, which mean they have the ability to stimulate menstruation. Each herb has its own properties and its own way of encouraging menstruation to begin. However, the uterus needs to be ready to bleed, otherwise, the blood is just not there. There are many herbs which have emmenagogue properties, both mild ones and stronger ones.

The stronger ones are also classified as abortifacients, meaning they have the ability to disrupt pregnancy.

Almost all abortifacient herbs are also classified as emmenagogues, but not all emmenagogues herbs are abortifacients.

In fact, mild emmenagogues are safe to use in the early stages of pregnancy.  It is very rare that a general herb book will list any abortifacient herbs. Most if not all will be classed as emmenagogues, because of the taboos associated with abortion.

That is why it is important to classify some herbs that are not likely to end a pregnancy on their own as emmenagogues, and the stronger ones which can interfere with pregnancy or damage the fetus as abortifacients. If a woman uses herbs of a mild nature, and pregnancy is the reason for delayed menstruation, these should not damage the developing embryo.

When does a delayed menstruation occur?

When menstruation has been absent for 3 months or longer, it is called amenorrhea, or delayed menstruation. Everything shorter than that is just menstruation that is late.

The absence of periods or delayed menstruation can be caused by many different factors. Some of those are more serious than others, such as eating disorders, malnutrition, abnormal body weight (either obesity or low body weight), and a woman should seek professional help if she can’t get back on track with healthier eating and lifestyle habits [1].

Sometimes diabetes, thyroid deficiency, depression, lack of ovulation due to the contraceptive pill or deprovera, or other medications such as antipsychotics or antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, and allergy medications cause a delayed menstruation. [2,3]

In some cases, the reason for delayed menstruation is insufficient hormone production, polycystic ovaries, a non-functioning thyroid and sometimes even benign tumours.

If your period has been absent for 3 months or more and pregnancy has been ruled out, you should visit the doctor. You can use herbs, but a healthcare professional should help you determine the real cause of your problem. If you have had irregular periods and delayed menstruation since beginning your periods, you most probably have a hormonal imbalance or polycystic ovary syndrome. You should get hormonal testing and a transvaginal ultrasound so your doctor can check your ovaries and uterus. With these reports, consult your gynecologist who will be able to diagnose you.

How Does Sport Affect Menstruation?

The physiological and aesthetic demands of synchronized swimming are similar to those of gymnastics and dance. Furthermore, synchronized swimmers were not known to suffer menstrual disturbance to the same extent as female gymnasts and dancers, or they didn’t have a larger problem: the female athlete triad — disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis. [15]

Study analysis revealed that only three of the subjects were oligomenorrhoeic, which means they had menstrual cycles longer than 35 days. In the study, none were suffering from amenorrhea or delayed menstruation. However, synchronized swimmers shared certain physiological characteristics with gymnasts and dancers, so the study questioned why synchronized swimmers and swimmers in general seem to be protected from menstrual abnormalities.[16]

The researchers point to three main theories, which are [16]:

  • Immersion in cool water during exercise may allow swimmers to control their core temperature in such a way as to prevent disruption to the intricate physiological systems that control menstruation.
  • A high level of body fat is diagnosed in both conventional and synchronized swimmers. This is known to protect against amenorrhea.
  • Nutrition is an important factor, since swimmers do not engage in the combination of disordered eating and intensive training to the same extent as other athletes with menstrual disturbances.
  • Finally, synchronized swimming does not compromise bone density, since training for this sport is mainly non-weight bearing. That is why it does not build stronger bones either.
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