A missed period can occur when the rhythm of the normal menstrual cycle is disrupted. This is not the same as a late period. Many women can experience a missed period for a number of reasons, but it may be a signal of an underlying medical condition.
Causes of Missed Period
Many women may experience a missed period over their lifetime. There are a number of causes that can lead to the normal menstrual cycle to be interrupted. These causes include:
You may choose to do a pregnancy test if your menstrual cycle is regular and you miss a period. If your periods are irregular but you find yourself with breast tenderness, nausea, and more frequent urination, that could also signal pregnancy.
2. Lack of Ovulate
Lack of ovulationis one of the most common causes of missed periods. It also accounts for about thirty percent of the cases of infertility among women. There are a number of reasons for not ovulating, including thyroid problems and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
3. Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety and stress can have a profound effect on the body, including heart health and creating a lower immune system response. It can also have an adverse effect on your normal menstrual cycle by affecting how the hormones that regulate your systems work. The response to stress causes your body to focus on a perceived threat and disrupts normal processes, including your menstrual cycle, thus causing missed periods.
4. Weight Problems
Gaining or losing a considerable amount of weight in a relatively short period of time can disrupt normal hormone function, causing you to miss a period or experience irregular periods. Too few fat cells mean lower estrogen, disrupting ovulation. Too many fat cells create an overabundance of estrogen which is also bad. Overweight women can also see higher instances of polycystic ovarian syndrome.
5. Hormone-Based Birth Control
Many forms of hormone-based birth control can change the regularity of the menstrual cycle, especially for newer forms. Periods can become lighter or can be missed altogether. Some forms of hormone-based birth control are designed to extend the time between periods.
6. Non-Cancerous Pituitary Tumors
Most tumors of the pituitary gland are non-cancerous, but they can disrupt the normal release of the hormones FSH and LH which regulate ovulation. Tumors can also cause the pituitary gland to release high levels of prolactin, which causes the breasts to produce milk for breastfeeding. This can also disrupt normal ovulation, causing missed or irregular periods.
7. Eating Disorders
An eating disorder is a potentially life-threatening condition that can not only disrupt all of the body’s normal functions, but can cause changes to your normal menstrual cycle, leading to missed periods. Excessively low body weight creates changes in the hormones leading to reduced ovulation and missed periods.
Certain medications such as antidepressants, oral corticosteroids, chemotherapy drugs and anti-psychotics can cause hormonal disruption and missed periods.
9. Rigorous Exercise
Rigorous exercise or regular participation in physically demanding sports can put stress on the body. The lower body weight means less fat cells, which are necessary for normal ovulation and hormone function. This leads to irregular or missed periods.
10. Imbalance of Hormones
There are a number of health issues that can affect the body’s normal balance of hormones. Hormone imbalance can disrupt the normal function of many body systems, including ovulation and a normal menstrual cycle.
11. Perimenopause and Early Menopause
Menopause is the normal phase of a woman’s life where the regular menstrual cycle stops permanently. This typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. Perimenopause is the period of time before menopause which can last about ten years and women can see disruptions in the menstrual cycle. It marks a reduction in hormones that can cause a number of changes, including a change in the normal menstrual cycle and missed periods.
12. Thyroid Problems
Thyroid disorders can wreak havoc on the body’s hormones, including those that regulate the menstrual cycle. An uncontrolled thyroid issue can lead to irregular or missed periods.
Traveling can be stressful and cause jet lag. This stress can affect the body’s normal function, including hormone fluctuations. Other changes due to traveling such as changes in eating and exercise habits can also cause stress and disruption, leading to irregular or missed periods.
14. Scarring of the Uterus
Disease or medical procedures that cause scarring to the uterus can cause improper shedding of the tissue that builds up each month. This can disrupt the normal menstrual cycle.
Seek Medical Help for Missed Period
Most causes of missed periods are not necessarily any cause for concern, but there are a number of reasons to seek medical attention in the event that you experience irregular or missed periods. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult with your healthcare provider right away:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Severe or uncontrolled vomiting
- Blood in the stool
- Dark, tarry stools
- Diarrhea that persists
- Worsening or severe heartburn
Preventions for Missed Period
Paying attention to your daily life can help you experience normal periods. These measures include:
- Eating a balanced diet. Having many smaller meals throughout the day instead of a few larger ones can help balance the hormones in the body.
- Control stress and anxiety. Keeping your stress as low as possible can help prevent changes to your menstrual cycle and missed periods. Engage in activities that help you relax, such as listening to music, exercising or taking part in an enjoyable hobby. Meditation and yoga can also help to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Preventing too much weight gain or weight loss can help avoid missed periods, so maintaining a healthy weight through diet and regular exercise is important.
- Take hormone-based birth control wisely. Always consult your physician when changing your method of birth control and follow doctor’s instructions on proper use of birth control.