Your period probably isn’t late!
I am seeing a lot of people at the minute saying that their period is late. They are concerned or excited that they may be pregnant. When in reality – their period is not late at all. They just ovulated later than the app predicted!
Let’s break this down. Every month, your body releases an egg and ovulation occurs (occasionally women will experience anovulatory months where the body does not ovulate). The day of ovulation can change depending on many internal and external factors. Stress plays a huge role in delaying ovulation. When we are stressed, the body will prevent ovulation as it is trying to protect the body from even more stress. A stressful body is no place to grow a baby and your body knows that. Being ill or run down has the same effect on the body and again ovulation does not occur. Hormonal imbalances will prevent ovulation, conditions such as PCOS and endometriosis can also hinder regular ovulation. This means the follicular (the first phase of your cycle) can vary dramatically.
So how do we know when we ovulate?
People often use ovulation predictor tests (OPK’s). As the name suggests, it predicts when ovulation will occur, it does not confirm that ovulation has happened. So, as we approach ovulation, the Luteinising Hormones increase, these are picks up by OPK’s, the issue here is that the body can fail to ovulate. You get the LH surge, you can get the fertile cervical fluid, your cervix can move higher and become more open, and yet ovulation can still fail to happen. Your body may then try again a few days later – BUT, because you have already had a surge your probably stop testing your LH levels and miss your actual ovulation. The only way to really know that ovulation has occurred (none medically) is to take your basal body temperature every morning before getting up. After ovulation your temperature increases and stays high until your period arrives, or if you are pregnant, it will stay elevated.
So, what does this mean?
Your follicular phase can vary a lot depending on internal and external factors, your luteal phase is relatively stable (give or take a day or two), so if your period is late and you are not pregnant, the chances are, you ovulated later than you realised. Many apps predict ovulation based on previous cycles but our bodies do not run on the same schedule month after month – unless you are one of the lucky ones that ovulates at the same time each month. The best thing you can do is track your basal body temperature to ensure that ovulation has occurred. OPK’s have their place, especially if you are trying to conceive, however they cannot confirm ovulation has happened and they do not work well for those with PCOS.