For many women, periods are inconsistent and may come as a surprise. Sometimes, they don’t even happen at all!
However, it doesn’t always mean you’re pregnant.
Besides pregnancy, there are several other possible reasons for a missed or late period. In some cases, hormonal imbalances, extreme weight loss, or problems with the reproductive organs might be the cause.
In this article, we will discuss the main reasons for a missed period, its prevention, and when it’s time to contact a health professional.
So let’s dive in!
Missed period, aka amenorrhea, is the absence of menstrual bleeding. It occurs when a girl hasn’t had her first menstrual period by age 16 or when a woman misses her monthly menstrual periods for 3 to 6 months.
It’s totally normal not to have periods during pregnancy or after menopause. But if you miss menstrual bleeding at other times, it may be a symptom of an underlying medical issue.
Types Of Absent Menstruation
There are two main types of amenorrhea:
Primary Amenorrhea happens when a girl passes the age of 16 and still hasn’t had her first period. Most girls start to menstruate between ages 9 and 18, but 12 is the average age. The term also applies to malformations in the reproductive tract that block menstrual bleeding.
Secondary Amenorrhea is a more common type of amenorrhea. It happens when a woman has stopped menstrual bleeding for at least three months after having regular cycles for the previous nine months.
Is It Normal To Miss A Period For A Month?
No period this month?
Do not freak out — it’s completely normal not to get your period once in a while!
It is not unusual for periods to become irregular from time to time. This is just your body’s response to stress or changes in your workout and eating habits.
Common reasons why you miss your period for a month may include stress, obesity, low body weight, use of birth control, early perimenopause, certain chronic diseases, and thyroid issues.
How Much Of A Delay In Periods Is Normal?
The length of the menstrual cycle differs from woman to woman. Typically, menstrual cycles range from 21-35 days. If your periods happen within this range, then there is probably no need to worry.
However, a period is considered late if it’s been more than 35-40 days since the start of your last period.
Causes Of Absent Menstruation (Other Than Pregnancy)
Besides pregnancy, some of the causes of absent periods are as follows:
This is one of the most common causes of a missed period. Research has shown that women with higher levels of perceived stress are more likely to miss a period.
Stress can result in a hormonal change and even affect the part of the brain that helps regulate your periods (hypothalamus). It can also lead to weight loss or gain or other illnesses, all of which can affect your cycle.
However, you can crank down the stress level with some:
- Good diet.
- Quality sleep.
2. Birth Control
Stopping or starting birth control can also produce changes in your menstrual cycle. Birth control pills contain different hormones (progesterone and estrogen), which prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. Since the drug works by introducing various hormones into your system, it can affect your menstrual cycle.
After you start or stop taking birth control pills, your period will likely become regular within three months. Some women may experience lighter bleeding. On the other hand, some may skip their periods entirely.
3. Low Body Weight
Less body weight is another potential reason for an absent period. Women with eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia may experience an absence of a period. Also, if your body weight is deficient, you might stop ovulating because of hormonal changes.
Just like low body weight, obesity can also affect your menstrual cycle. If you are overweight, your body may produce an excess amount of hormones (known as oestrogen) that regulate women’s reproductive system. An excess amount of oestrogen affects how often you have periods and can also cause your periods to stop.
5. Early Perimenopause
Early perimenopause indicates that the supply of your eggs is declining, which results in a missed period and eventually the end of menstruation.
For most women, menopause starts between the ages of 45 and 55. However, if symptoms of menopause begin before the age of 40, it is considered early perimenopause.
6. Chronic Diseases
Certain chronic illnesses such as tuberculosis, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, and celiac disease can cause missed or irregular periods.
Celiac disease causes swelling in the small intestine and stops the body from absorbing essential nutrients, contributing to late or missed periods. Blood sugar changes can also affect hormones, and poorly controlled diabetes can lead to irregular periods.
However, if any of these diseases are present, you will also experience other symptoms besides menstrual abnormalities.
7. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder that results from abnormal levels of certain hormones. Due to this hormonal imbalance, ovulation becomes irregular or stops, and arrested follicles (cysts) develop in the ovaries – resulting in a missed period.
8. Thyroid Issues
The thyroid gland regulates your body’s metabolism, so thyroid diseases can also affect hormone levels, resulting in the absence of menstruation.
An underactive or overactive thyroid gland can make your periods very light, heavy, or irregular. It can also cause your periods to stop for several months or longer.
How Can I Prevent Amenorrhea?
In order to prevent amenorrhea, you should aim to:
- exercise regularly
- maintain a healthy weight
- eat a balanced diet
- learn to manage stress
Remember that you must consult with your doctor about any concerns you have about your menstrual cycle.
When Should I Consult A Doctor After A Missed Period?
It is a good idea to consult with a doctor regarding your missed or irregular periods, especially if your periods are usually regular. A doctor can help you figure out the causes of your missed period and suggest suitable treatment options.
You must visit your health care provider if you notice the following symptoms:
- You have missed your period more than two times in a year.
- You get a period less frequently than every 35 days or more frequently than every 21 days.
- Menstrual bleeding lasts for more than seven days.
- The bleeding is thicker than usual.
- You experience severe pain during your period.
- You have postmenopausal bleeding.
Apart from pregnancy, a late or missed period can happen for several reasons. Potential causes range from hormonal imbalances to severe medical concerns.
Initially, missing a period may not seem like a significant hazard, but it can carry many health risks. Ask your health care provider for more information regarding your condition, treatment options, and long-term outlook.