It’s not uncommon for women to experience irregular periods from time to time. Hormonal changes, stress, dietary changes, and other factors can all affect your menstrual cycle length and cause your period to be early, late, or even missed altogether. If your period is late after trying natural remedies like lime, it’s understandable to be anxious about whether you might be pregnant. However, there are many benign causes for a delayed period besides pregnancy. Understanding how long limes can safely delay your period will help you determine if and when to take a pregnancy test.
What causes period delays?
A variety of factors can cause your period to be late or absent:
Fluctuations in reproductive hormones like estrogen and progesterone regulate your menstrual cycle. Hormonal imbalances from conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or thyroid disorders can cause irregular cycles and period delays.
When you first start hormonal birth control like the pill, implant, or shot, it’s common not to get a real period for the first few months as your body adjusts to the new medication. Certain types of birth control also cause you to only have a period every few months.
High stress levels raise cortisol and other hormones that can interfere with the ovaries’ production of estrogen and progesterone. This can disrupt your cycle and delay your period.
Significant weight loss or gain
Sudden drops in body fat from significant weight loss can impact hormone levels and suppress ovulation, causing missed or delayed periods. Weight gain can also affect menstrual cycles for some women.
As you near menopause in your late 30s to late 40s, decreasing progesterone levels can cause inconsistent ovulation and more period-free intervals.
Very high activity levels from intense exercise routines can lower estrogen and potentially stop menstruation. This most often occurs in competitive athletes.
Long flights across time zones can disrupt your circadian rhythms and influence hormone levels enough to delay your period.
Some medical conditions like endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), uterine fibroids, and cancers may infrequently cause delayed or missed periods. Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa also often cause amenorrhea or lack of periods.
Certain prescription medications used for mental health conditions, hypertension, and other chronic diseases can potentially lead to menstrual irregularities like a late period.
How long is it normal for your period to be late?
Most doctors consider a delay of up to one week fairly normal for your menstrual cycle. Your cycle rarely follows the textbook definition of 28 days exactly. Variations in cycle length of 21 to 35 days are still considered medically normal.
With this range, having your period up to one week late (starting on day 35) is usually not a major concern. Larger delays in menstruation warrant additional evaluation to identify the underlying cause.
Can limes make your period late?
Limes contain compounds that theoretically may help delay your period naturally. However, there is limited evidence that limes or other citrus fruits can reliably and safely push back your period.
Limes are an excellent source of immune-boosting vitamin C. Some herbalists claim large doses of vitamin C-rich foods can delay menstruation. However, mainstream medicine has not found high-dose vitamin C supplements to significantly extend the menstrual cycle.
Limes contain antioxidant plant compounds called flavonoids. Some research indicates certain flavonoids may mildly inhibit prostaglandins and other chemicals involved in period onset. But studies have not proven lime flavonoids can directly delay your cycle.
Phytochemicals in lime juice like limonene also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. But human studies are lacking on limonene or other lime phytochemicals’ effects on the menstrual cycle.
Being well hydrated is necessary for optimal hormonal balance and regular periods. Limes act as a diuretic, so some recommend consuming them to relieve water retention that may precede menstruation. However, limes’ diuretic effects are likely minor and not a reliable way to prevent your period.
Overall, some small studies show certain lime compounds may influence prostaglandin and estrogen levels related to the menstrual cycle. However, the impact in humans eating normal amounts of lime is probably insignificant. Limes are not considered a medically proven or guaranteed way to make your period come later.
How long can lime delay your period?
There have been no formal studies examining exactly how long consuming limes could potentially push back your period.
Anecdotally, some women claim eating limes or drinking lime juice daily appears to delay their periods by a few days to a week at most. However, it is not medically established that limes can reliably and safely delay menstruation for any specific length of time.
If your period is more than one week late after trying limes or other natural remedies, it’s unlikely the limes are still causing the delay. A late period lasting longer than about 10 days warrants seeing your doctor to identify the cause.
When to take a pregnancy test if period is late?
If your period has not started within 7 days of when you expected it, consider taking a pregnancy test around that time. The most sensitive pregnancy tests can detect the pregnancy hormone hCG about 6 days before your missed period.
However, you may get the most accurate result if you wait until the first day your period is due to take the test. If your period is more than one week late with a negative pregnancy test, make an appointment with your doctor to determine if an underlying health condition is causing your delayed cycle.
Here are general guidelines on when to test for pregnancy if your period is late:
- Take a pregnancy test 7 days after expecting your period if period has not started
- Retest 1-2 days after first test if initial test was negative but no period
- The optimal time to test is usually the first day your missed period was expected
- If period is more than 1 week late with negative tests, see your doctor
Remember that even the most sensitive tests cannot detect very early pregnancies before hCG levels rise. If you believe pregnancy is possible, retest in a few days if your period remains MIA after initial negative results.
When to see a doctor for a late period?
See your gynecologist or other doctor if your period is delayed by:
- More than 7 days
- One week after a negative pregnancy test with no period
- Accompanied by other symptoms like severe pain, abnormal discharge, or unexplained weight changes
- Following discontinuation of hormonal birth control pills, shot, implant, or IUD
- If you are age 45 or older as delays may signal perimenopause
Your doctor can perform tests to check for possible underlying problems like thyroid disease, ovarian cysts, or other hormone issues causing your missed period. If medically necessary, they may recommend medication to induce a period after ruling out pregnancy.
When to induce a period with medication?
Most doctors recommend waiting at least one month to allow your period to start naturally before using medication to induce menstruation. However, it’s reasonable to consider period-inducing medication if:
- You have a negative pregnancy test after 7 or more days late
- Your periods were regular then suddenly stopped
- You have severe PMS symptoms but no bleeding
- You are planning a pregnancy soon and need a predictable cycle
- A late period disrupts your lifestyle or causes you anxiety
Progesterone supplements like Provera and norethindrone are commonly prescribed to jumpstart your cycle after ruling out pregnancy. Combination birth control pills containing both estrogen and progestin may also induce bleeding.
Your doctor can help you decide if medication is appropriate based on your health history and period symptoms. Never self-treat with hormones without medical guidance.
Is it possible to get pregnant with a late period?
Yes, pregnancy is still possible even if you experience a late or delayed period. Here’s what you need to know:
Ovulation precedes menstruation
Ovulation happens about two weeks before the start of your next period. If ovulation occurs later than normal in your cycle, it will delay when your period should arrive. But you can still get pregnant from intercourse that took place after ovulation but before your expected period.
Some women experience spotting around the time of implantation 6-12 days after fertilization. Impregnated women may mistake this for a light period and not realize they are pregnant until the next missed period.
Unrecognized pregnancy loss
Another possibility is you conceived but had an early miscarriage you did not realize before your period was due. Hormonal shifts from an early pregnancy loss can delay upcoming periods.
False negative pregnancy tests
If you took a pregnancy test too early or had an insensitive brand of test, it may have missed detecting an existing pregnancy. False negatives are possible in the days leading up to a missed period.
In summary, you can ovulate at different times in your cycle, so a late period does not necessarily rule out pregnancy. Repeat pregnancy testing with your first morning urine and check with your doctor if still no period after 7-10 days late on the calendar.
Tips for bringing on your period naturally
While limes are not medically proven to significantly delay or induce periods, other natural remedies may help encourage menstruation if your cycle is irregular:
Applying heating pads or hot water bottles to your lower abdomen may promote blood flow to the uterus and jumpstart your period.
Moderate aerobic exercise like brisk walking releases feel-good endorphins that may stimulate your period. But avoid overtraining which can inhibit ovulation.
Have an orgasm
Orgasm causes mild uterine contractions that may help trigger menstruation. Sexual stimulation promotes blood circulation to your genitals.
High stress increases cycle-disrupting hormones like cortisol. Try yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques to calm your mind and body.
Anti-inflammatory turmeric may influence hormonal balance and is used traditionally to induce periods. Mix turmeric powder in warm milk or water.
Ginger tea is a warming beverage used to promote blood flow to the pelvis and possibly stimulate menses. It may help minor pain too.
Keep in mind there is limited evidence definitively proving these remedies can quickly bring on your period. But they are low-risk natural ways to potentially support a healthy, regular menstrual cycle. See your doctor if your period is very delayed.
When to worry about a missed period?
One late or skipped period because of temporary stress or illness is usually not worrisome by itself. However, contact your doctor promptly if you experience:
- No period for over 3 months (amenorrhea)
- Periods suddenly stop after years of regular cycles
- Heavy bleeding lasting over 7 days
- Severe abdominal or pelvic pain
- Spotting between periods
- Delayed puberty by age 16 with no period
- Bleeding after menopause
These scenarios may require tests for hormonal imbalances, structural problems, or other underlying medical conditions. Do not hesitate to get evaluated for severe, prolonged, or abnormal menstrual issues.
When to induce a period with medications?
See your gynecologist about medically inducing a period if:
- Your period is very late or absent without pregnancy
- You have 30+ days of negative pregnancy tests after a missed period
- You want to rule out pregnancy before starting new contraceptives
- You have severe PMS but are not bleeding
- You are trying to conceive and need a predictable cycle
Progesterone supplements like Provera are commonly used to jumpstart periods. Birth control pills containing estrogen and progestin may also stimulate withdrawal bleeding. Let your doctor guide you, especially if you have conditions like PCOS or are overweight where hormones must be used carefully.
While eating limes or citrus fruits have not been medically proven to delay menstruation, they provide other health benefits as part of a balanced diet. If your period is late by over one week, take a pregnancy test to be sure that is not the cause. See your doctor for evaluation of hormonal problems, complications like PCOS, or other issues if your period is absent or severely off schedule without pregnancy. With proper testing and treatment if necessary, you can get back on track with a regular monthly cycle.