Menstrual cycle is the most important part of women reproduction system. Menstrual cycle is determined genetically and hormonally – it can vary from woman to woman. Some women could have short menstrual cycle (21-25 days), some women could have long cycle (32-35 days) but majority have average menstrual cycle 28 days long. Usually healthy women have between 11 and 13 menstrual periods each year. And every time you have missed period, you are stressed because pregnancy is the first thing you would think during missed period.
If you are trying to conceive, missed period could be a first signal of wanted pregnancy. But is you did not plan pregnancy, missed period could be a reason of serious stress.
Every woman should know that missed period could be a symptom of several health condition (not only pregnancy!)
Missed Period causes
Menstrual periods are often irregular during the first few years after menstruation starts. It could take several years for the hormones that control menstruation to reach needed personal balance.
Menstrual periods could be very irregular at the end of reproductive period of life (end of menstrual cycles) – many women realize that they are approaching menopause when their regular periods become irregular (on-going missed periods). Menopause is defined as the absence of menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months.
When a woman is approaching perimenopause, she could experience missed period because the levels of reproductive hormones start going down and the menstruation schedule becomes irregular.
Pregnancy is the most common cause of missed period. If you had unprotected sexual contact and your regular period is missed, better check pregnancy. You can carefully observe your early pregnancy symptoms (such as morning sickness, breast tenderness, increased appetite, etc), check typical basal temperature or use home pregnancy test. Don’t forget to read about false pregnancy tests.
Stress is becoming a normal part of our modern life – you cannot avoid stress always. Some stress factors are unexpected and unavoidable (natural disasters, death of loved ones, etc.). During stress women body produce increased levels of so called “stress hormones” which could interfere with women hormones and extend the menstrual cycle.
Stress can lead to hormonal imbalance in your body and the periods get delayed.
Weight Changes (obesity, anorexia)
Increased body weight and obesity could be a reason for missed period. The mechanism behind increased weight and missed period is related to disturbances in the normal hormonal balance. Normal menstrual cycles correlate with normal cyclic production of hormones – increased body fat increases circulating estrogen levels in the body. This excess estrogen causes conflicting signals to the ovaries and to the brain, which results in irregular or absent egg release (ovulation) from the ovaries. When ovulation is late or absent, missed period is the body response to changed hormonal balance.
The decrease in percentage of body fat can improve the hormone balance between the brain and the ovaries, resulting in more regular ovulation and more normal cycles.
Sudden weight loss could have very similar effect at women hormonal balance. When your body weight is decreased, then the body hormones often fail to function normally. As a result, you could experience missed period.
To resume normal periods, those women who are underweight should regain a healthy body weight.
Intensive physical activities (excessive)
Missed periods are common in endurance athletes – super-intensive physical activities could play a role of physical stress and women body react accordingly (see above).
Women body is pretty complex and has very specific hormonal changes during menstrual cycle (during every month) and different diseases could disturb women hormonal rhythm. For example, sudden unexpected diseases with severe symptoms (such as malaria, encephalitis, rheumatism) could cause missed period. Some chronic diseases (such as tuberculosis, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, liver disease) can also be a reason of missed period.
In these cases the main solution is a proper treatment of the main diseases.
Medications including Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills have several side effects including light periods, brown discharges and missed periods. The main reason for missed period during birth control pills is hormonal changes made by pills (anovulatory cycles, thin endometrium). Missed period can be also triggered by irregular use of birth control pills or missed pills.
Some medications’ side effects include menstrual disturbances and missed period (mainly hormonal drugs, psychiatric medications, anti-cancer interventions).
Changes in life schedule
Some professions request night shifts; some professions include frequent travels and some professions demand flexible schedules. These could be a reason for missed period because body adaptation has limits and different women have different limits.
Any abnormal change in daily life could have an adverse impact on your menstrual cycle – making cycles longer. This is particularly true when women stay awake till late night on a regular basis or if women are forced to take night shifts. Any dramatic changes in regular daily life usually provoke changes in women body clock (including hormonal menstrual rhythm).
Hormonal dysfunctions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Cushing Syndrome, hyperprolactinemia, premature ovarian failure and Hirsute Syndrome could change dramatically normal monthly hormonal rhythm and trigger missed period. As menstrual periods are hormonally determined, any hormonal changes can change period timing and women could experience unpleasant missed period.
Menstrual period (menstruation) is regular monthly menstrual bleeding – it is a result of monthly uterine lining shedding (uterine lining tissue mixed with blood). Menstrual flow can be light, moderate…
Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.