I won't lie to you, dear reader — the past few weeks have been rough. And I do mean rough. In addition to facing some difficult challenges in my personal life, I — along with the rest of the country — endured the conclusion of Campaign 2016. It wasn't just any presidential election. It was a big, mean, ugly one that ended in a way many of us did not expect or want. But even if you got your way in the end, you can't deny that this one was especially full of stress. So maybe I shouldn't have been surprised that my period decided to switch things up a bit, too, showing up way later than usual. And it turns out I'm not the only one dealing with election-related period woes: A quick Twitter search turned up a bunch of other people complaining that their periods were temporarily MIA, thanks to stress leading up to — and following — the presidential election.
Although it's a little worrying when your cycle doesn't go according to schedule, stress is actually one of the most common (and normal!) causes of a late or missed period. That's all thanks to increased levels of cortisol, commonly referred to as the "stress hormone." Our bodies produce more cortisol in response to stressful situations, which helps regulate our fight-or-flight responses. Along with worsening asthma or causing digestion issues, prolonged stress can delay or even temporarily suppress ovulation. And when that happens, you'll have a late period — or no period.
So it's pretty normal to have a missed or delayed period every once in a while. But if you have three missed or otherwise irregular periods in a row, that's a sign something else may be going on — and you should probably check in with your doctor. And, of course, the most common cause of a skipped period is pregnancy. So if you're more than a week late, it's worth getting a test just to make sure you know what is or isn't cooking. In the meantime, though, let's all take this opportunity to practice our deep breathing, huh? Oh, and our activism.