A missed period usually signifies pregnancy. So the first thing you should do if you have a missed period is to take a home pregnancy test. But what if you are not pregnant? Why would you have a missed period in that case? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons.
Missed Period Causes
- The most common cause of a missed period is stress. If you have been over-working or are on edge about some issue in your personal life, it can affect the fine balance of hormones in your body and prevent your period from showing up on time.
- Have you made any significant changes to your life lately? Perhaps you moved house? Or you got divorced and are living on your own for the first time in your life? Maybe you just started a new job in a new city? Any such major life changes can greatly affect your mental state, in turn affecting your hormones. So if you have a missed period during such an upheaval, then rest assured that it will get back on track once you have settled down a bit and had time to adjust to the new changes in your life.
- Speaking of changes, have you recently amended your diet in some way? And no, I don’t mean moving to a different cereal brand. If you have drastically changed the way you eat, your body takes time adjusting to the new levels of nutrition, whether high or low. It is quite common for women to have a missed period or two if they, say, suddenly stop eating meat and turn vegetarian. Or if they significantly reduce their calorie intake to lose weight; if your body does not get the nutrition it needs, then it will not function the way it is meant to.
- From food, we move on to exercise and weight. If you have been exercising way too much, the combination of physical effort and mental stress that result from it can be too much for your body to take. The surest sign that you are exerting yourself is a missed period.
Excessive exercise can lead to rapid weight loss. This can also result in a missed period. This is quite common among athletes and women who participate in competitive sport. Researchers believe it may have something to do with the reduced level of body fat. On the other hand, putting on a lot of weight suddenly can also lead to a missed period.
An eating disorder like anorexia nervosa or bulimia, both of which lead to massive weight loss and extreme mental stress, also generally result in more than one missed period. When the weight goes back to normal after rehabilitation and counselling, the menstrual cycle will resume normally.
- Women who smoke a lot also tend to miss a period now and again. While doctors are unsure why this happens, they hypothesize that the tobacco may be creating chemical changes in the body which disrupt its hormonal balance.
- Several types of birth control have been known to cause a missed period in millions of women. After all, contraceptives are nothing more than hormones. So the introduction of external hormones into the body is bound to cause some problems. A missed period is common if you stop taking the Pill or any other hormonal treatment for contraception.
- A missed period is normal in teens as their bodies are still developing and hormonal imbalances are normal during this time.
- Similarly, peri-menopausal women will tend to miss a period here and there as their bodies too are undergoing massive changes.
- Recent studies have shown that thyroid problems can cause a missed period or an irregular menstrual cycle. This is one of the first things your doctor will test you for. The link between the two has been observed in clinical studies, but the reasons are unknown.
- If you’ve recently been sick with a severe cold or the flu, you may miss a period.
- Finally, there are numerous health conditions which can cause a missed period like cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome, sexually transmitted diseases, mumps, tuberculosis, Turner’s syndrome, etc.
Can I Prevent A Missed Period?
As you can see from most of the reasons above, a missed period is most likely when you make any sudden changes to your life whether it’s physical, psychological, mental, chemical, or dietary. So the key to maintaining a regular menstrual cycle is to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle and to be connected to your body and mind when you are making any major changes. Wherever possible, make transitional changes instead of going cold turkey. These factors are in your hands and can thus be controlled.
However, in case of an underlying disease it will be necessary to see a doctor and undertake curative measures to prevent a missed period in the future.
Is It Normal to Have a Missed Period?
Well, it is not exactly normal, but it isn’t something you should lose any sleep over either. Of course, when your body does not behave the way it is supposed to, it is some cause for worry. But a lot of women miss a period now and then. And the majority of women have a missed period for reasons that have no long-term repercussions and which are quite mundane, as you can see in the list of reasons for a missed period. So chill out. Perhaps your inability to relax is what has made you miss your period!
A missed period once in awhile is OK. But if it occurs frequently or if you miss more than two periods in a row, you should see your doctor about it. In fact, if you are anxious about your health after missing even just one period, you should still see your doctor to rule out health problems and to assure yourself that everything is all right with you.
Remember that a missed period is your body’s way of getting your attention. Its way of telling you, ‘hey, pay attention. Something’s not quite right here. Take care of me.’ And if you’re smart, you’ll listen.