Spread the love

Does Sex Delay Your Period?

Does sex delay your period? This, and a million other questions, may rush through your head when you’re wanting your period to come and it just . . . doesn’t. 

If you’re sexually active, you’re probably wondering if this means you’re pregnant. And we know how much anxiety that can induce. 

Understanding whether or not sex delays your period can help minimize stress. And you can learn how to plan better in the future. 

Let’s take a look at the link between sex and your menstrual cycle, while also tackling other period-related questions. 

Does sex affect periods?

It may, in some cases. Your menstrual cycle and sexual habits influence each other because of hormonal changes. 

You probably already know that your fertility cycle causes peaks and troughs in libido. Take these examples:

  • During your period, you may notice little or no sex drive. 
  • As estrogen rises and peaks around ovulation, you may have more sex drive when you’re most fertile. 
  • Your libido may fall again as you go into the luteal phase after ovulation and before your next menses.
estrogen chart
But you probably didn’t know that sex may also affect the timing and intensity of your period. This is because of the hormones that rise during and after you have sex resulting in changes in your period. 

Research on this subject is still developing, but data available at present suggests that some people could see changes in their menstrual cycles after becoming sexually active. 

In one study from the 1970s, women who had weekly sex had cycles that were more regular than those who refrained from having sex.

One hormone that is impacted by sex is cortisol, or stress hormone. It rises when you’re anxious, when your body is being taxed with exercise, and even when you eat certain foods. 

Research shows that women who are sexually active tend to have lower cortisol levels than women who do not indulge in sexual intimacy. 

Cortisol levels, along with many other factors, impact your fertility and your menstrual cycle. 

Orgasms cause hormonal shifts in oxytocin, which can also decrease stress. There’s even some evidence that stress can make you less fertile. So, because of the interactions of hormones, your sex habits and fertility cycle go hand-in-hand. 

Does Sex Delay Your Period?

Does sex delay your period

Sex can cause slight changes in your periods, but your cycle isn’t going to be the exact same every month anyways. 

Some variation in cycle length and phases is totally normal. In fact, 46% cycles vary by seven or more days. 

Can having sex two days before your period delay it?

Not exactly. Small variations in your menstrual cycle length are generally not due to sexual activity. If your periods are delayed, it is not a cause for concern. Having sex a few days before your period will not delay it. 

When you have sex during your fertile window, the chances of pregnancy are high. If you have been sexually active around your ovulation day, that is 12-14 days before your next period, then you may be pregnant. The cause for delay in your period may be pregnancy. Take a pregnancy test if your periods are late by a week

Does sperm delay your period?

Sperm on its own doesn’t have any effect on your menstrual cycle. But it is important to note that having unprotected sex during your fertile window can lead to pregnancy. 

Many women think that having unprotected sex during or just after your period can’t lead to pregnancy. 

But this isn’t totally true. 

While it’s less likely, you can still get pregnant because of an irregular cycle length. If you have shorter cycles, then your fertile window shifts to the earlier parts of your cycle. This means that your fertile window begins from the period days. 

Sperm can live in the female reproductive system for up to five days. So, if you have shorter cycles and have had sex during your period, the chances of conception are high. 

Can your period be late after having sex for the first time?

Being newly sexually active can cause slight changes in your hormonal levels thereby altering your menstrual cycle. The stress of having sex for the first time may have an influence over your next cycle. 

Still, pay attention to any variations in your period that last longer than three days. Consult your gynecologist in case of any sudden changes in your menstrual cycle. 

I had protected sex and my period is late

pregnancy test

Protected sex during the fertile window can lead to pregnancy if your contraceptive method fails. However, if you have unprotected sex outside of your fertile window, the chances of pregnancy are rare. 

Again, a few days of variation in your cycle, coupled with other factors, is normal. But if your period is several days late, take a pregnancy test. 

Why is my period late?

Tracking your period for several months can give you an idea of the normal variations in your cycle. Being late by a day or two is normal for many women. The average cycle length is 25-30 days, but many women have cycles that are much shorter or longer. 

There are a few possible reasons (other than pregnancy) why periods may be late. Here are a few common reasons:

Causes of Delayed Periods
  • Stress: Hormones related to the fight-or-flight mode can affect your cycle and prevent you from having your period. Stress can also cause anovulation, the #1 cause of infertility
  • Prescription birth control: Several forms of hormonal birth control can delay your period or even prevent you from having one. Using birth control for long periods can thin the uterine lining, and some women may not have a period at all while on birth control. 
  • Recent sickness: The stress of activating your immune system can suppress the hormones that cause your menses. Some medications prescribed to help you get better can also delay your period. So, if you observe your periods getting delayed after a recent illness, that sickness may be the cause.
  • Over-exercising: Exercise-induced amenorrhea – or the absence of a monthly period – could occur because you may be working out more than normal. Cortisol (the stress hormone) suppresses your fertility hormones and sometimes prevents ovulation and menstruation. 
  • Sudden weight changes: Gaining or losing a lot of weight in a short amount of time causes stress on your body. Large fluctuations in weight cause cortisol levels to rise, thereby affecting ovulation and consequently your menstruation.  
  • Eating disorders: When it’s not getting proper nutrition, your body will prioritize survival over reproduction. Binge eating and self-starvation can lead to missing your ovulation and/or your menses. 
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Women with PCOS often experience longer or irregular menstrual cycles. This is because the high androgen levels prevent women from ovulating and menstruating regularly. 
  • Uterine Fibroids: These non-cancerous tumors are the most common benign gynecological tumors in women worldwide. They can cause heavy bleeding, irregular menses, and even missed periods in some women. 
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI): Rarely, women can lose function in their ovaries before the age of 40. This causes late, missing, or intermittent menses. But the risk of POI in women under 40 is 1%, so try not to let this worry you. 

Having a period that’s late by a few days is one thing, but missing your period for several cycles is a cause for concern. Amenorrhea is when you’ve missed your menses for three or more cycles. 

If you notice anything too out of the ordinary with your menstrual cycle, it’s best to approach your doctor for a medical consultation.  

Summary

  • Your sexual habits can influence your monthly cycle, just like your menstrual cycle can make you more or less excited about sex. 
  • Tracking your menstrual cycle can tell you whether or not variations in cycle length are normal for you.
    While the average cycle is 25-30 days, some women will have periods every 21 days. Others will have a period every 40 days. Both variations are normal.
  • Hormones from sex can delay your period by a day or two, but if your period is more than three days late it may be time to take a pregnancy test.
  • There are a lot of reasons why your period may be late besides pregnancy. Stress, prescription birth control, and weight changes can lead to variations in your cycle. 
  • Amenorrhea, or missing your period for three months or more, is something to tell your doctor about. 

Was this helpful?

  1. Algars, M., Huang, L., Von Holle, A. F., Peat, C. M., Thornton, L. M., Lichtenstein, P., & Bulik, C. M. (2014). Binge eating and menstrual dysfunction. Journal of psychosomatic research, 76(1), 19–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2013.11.011
  2. Berga, S. L. (2019, January 18). Stress-induced anovulation. Stress: Physiology, Biochemistry, and Pathology. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128131466000187 
  3. Brown, S. G., Morrison, L. A., Calibuso, M. J., & Christiansen, T. M. (2008). The menstrual cycle and sexual behavior: relationship to eating, exercise, sleep, and health patterns. Women & health, 48(4), 429–444. https://doi.org/10.1080/03630240802575179
  4. Cappelletti, M., & Wallen, K. (2016). Increasing women’s sexual desire: The comparative effectiveness of estrogens and androgens. Hormones and behavior, 78, 178–193. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2015.11.003
  5. Cho, G. J., Han, S. W., Shin, J. H., & Kim, T. (2017). Effects of intensive training on menstrual function and certain serum hormones and peptides related to the female reproductive system. Medicine, 96(21), e6876. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000006876
  6. Cooper DB, Patel P, Mahdy H. Oral Contraceptive Pills. [Updated 2022 Jan 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430882/
  7. Cutler, W. B., Garcia, C. R., & Krieger, A. M. (1979). Sexual behavior frequency and menstrual cycle length in mature premenopausal women. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 4(4), 297–309. https://doi.org/10.1016/0306-4530(79)90014-3
  8. Edelman, Alison MD, MPH; Boniface, Emily R. MPH; Benhar, Eleonora PhD; Han, Leo MD, MPH; Matteson, Kristen A. MD, MPH; Favaro, Carlotta PhD; Pearson, Jack T. PhD; Darney, Blair G. PhD, MPH Association Between Menstrual Cycle Length and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination, Obstetrics & Gynecology: January 5, 2022 – Volume – Issue – 10.1097/AOG.0000000000004695 doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000004695
  9. Harris, H. R., Titus, L. J., Cramer, D. W., & Terry, K. L. (2017). Long and irregular menstrual cycles, polycystic ovary syndrome, and ovarian cancer risk in a population-based case-control study. International journal of cancer, 140(2), 285–291. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijc.30441
  10. Ko, K. M., Han, K., Chung, Y. J., Yoon, K. H., Park, Y. G., & Lee, S. H. (2017). Association between Body Weight Changes and Menstrual Irregularity: The Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2010 to 2012. Endocrinology and metabolism (Seoul, Korea), 32(2), 248–256. https://doi.org/10.3803/EnM.2017.32.2.248
  11. Lorenz, T. K., Demas, G. E., & Heiman, J. R. (2015). Interaction of menstrual cycle phase and sexual activity predicts mucosal and systemic humoral immunity in healthy women. Physiology & behavior, 152(Pt A), 92–98. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.09.018
  12. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, April 29). Menstrual cycle: What’s normal, what’s not. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/menstrual-cycle/art-20047186 
  13. Navarro, A., Bariani, M. V., Yang, Q., & Al-Hendy, A. (2021). Understanding the Impact of Uterine Fibroids on Human Endometrium Function. Frontiers in cell and developmental biology, 9, 633180. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcell.2021.633180
  14. NHS. (2019, August 5). Periods and fertility in the menstrual cycle. NHS choices. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/periods/fertility-in-the-menstrual-cycle/#:~:text=The%20length%20of%20the%20menstrual,to%2040%20days%2C%20are%20normal.
  15. Palomba, S., Daolio, J., Romeo, S. et al. Lifestyle and fertility: the influence of stress and quality of life on female fertility. Reprod Biol Endocrinol 16, 113 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12958-018-0434-y
  16. Rudnicka, E., Kruszewska, J., Klicka, K., Kowalczyk, J., Grymowicz, M., Skórska, J., Pięta, W., & Smolarczyk, R. (2018). Premature ovarian insufficiency – aetiopathology, epidemiology, and diagnostic evaluation. Przeglad menopauzalny = Menopause review, 17(3), 105–108. https://doi.org/10.5114/pm.2018.78550
  17. Sakkas, D., Ramalingam, M., Garrido, N., & Barratt, C. L. (2015). Sperm selection in natural conception: what can we learn from Mother Nature to improve assisted reproduction outcomes?. Human reproduction update, 21(6), 711–726. https://doi.org/10.1093/humupd/dmv042

Releted Content