It’s that time of the month again. You’re stocked up with chocolate, heating pads, your choice of sanitary product, and of course your FabLittleBag. Your tracker app is ominously informing you that your period is due. But then…nothing. And a week later, still nothing. Missing a period can be a strange and scary experience. Whilst pregnancy may be the most common, and most discussed, reason for a missed period, there are numerous other factors which can affect or interrupt your cycle. A missed or late period once in a while isn’t abnormal, but if you’re concerned or miss your period for multiple months — a condition known as amenorrhea — it’s worth seeking advice from your medical provider or gynecologist. This article discusses a few common reasons why you may have skipped your monthly bleed, and what it means for your body.
Mental health and menstrual health are intimately connected. When you experience intense stress or fear, your body’s ‘fight or flight’ mechanisms kick in, releasing the hormone cortisol, which suppresses nonessential bodily functions, including ovulation, and in turn, your period. This can lead to irregular menstruation, especially if the stress is intense or over an extended time. If you’re constantly stressed out — as many of us have been, during a two year global pandemic! — then you’ll be more prone to interruptions in your normal cycle. A little stress isn’t unusual, but if you think you may be suffering from a mental health condition like anxiety, or are concerned that heightened stress levels are disturbing your period, it’s worth seeing a medical professional. Working out what’s stressing you out and reducing these triggers in your life is a good place to start. Then there’s a whole range of treatments for stress, from extra sunshine to meditation to therapy to pharmaceutical treatments and supplements like CBD — if you think stress may be interrupting your period, why not investigate some of these options?
A new or particularly intense exercise regimen can affect your period. Have you started a harder gym routine, been running more, or taken up a new sport? If so, this may be the source of your missed cycle. If you’re burning excessive calories exercising, your body won’t have the energy to keep bodily functions working regularly, causing a hormonal imbalance which can affect menstruation. Moreover, losing body fat — the goal of many workouts — can stop you from ovulating. Irregular periods are common in athletes, with one 2014 study recording a history of athletic amenorrhea in 25% of surveyed athletes, particularly in those with a lower BMI. Try reducing the hours and intensity of your workouts, and your periods should return to normal.
Any weight fluctuations can cause you to skip a period. A rapid change in weight can lead to hormonal imbalance as your body struggles to adjust, whilst restricting calories halts the production of the hormones which regulate your period and is a strong risk factor in amenorrhea. Equally, if you are overweight, your body goes into overdrive, producing excess hormones which affect the frequency and strength of your periods. Regulating your diet is important here, ensuring you are consuming enough calories from varied, balanced food groups. If your weight fluctuations are linked to an eating disorder or period of disordered eating, you should seek help from a specialist; as well as reaching out to family, friends, and your GP, a good place to start is BEAT, the UK’s primary eating disorder charity. Losing your period through an eating disorder can be scary, but you are not alone, and help is out there to help you recover a healthy body and superior quality of life.
A missed period can be a sign that something in your body isn’t working quite as it should. Several chronic health conditions are connected with missed periods, such as thyroid issues and diabetes. Problems which impact your hormones more broadly will impact your menstrual cycle. PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is the most common hormone disorder among those with ovaries who are of reproductive age. PCOS involves a hormonal imbalance and the growth of small cysts on your ovaries, which can halt menstruation; other symptoms include weight gain, hair growth, and acne. If your missed period is accompanied with other abnormal symptoms such as these, It is worth discussing it with your GP. Even a common cold or the flu can interrupt your bodily systems, as well as raising your stress levels. If you’ve been under the weather recently, it might be that pesky bug which has interrupted your cycle.
Finally there is of course the one that everyone instantly thinks of : Pregnancy. This can be the best , or the worst reason depending on circumstances, if this could be the reason , a quick pregnancy test should tell you one way or the other, don’t delay as being stressed could delay it further! Whilst a missed or irregular cycle is rarely something to be worried about, if you find yourself missing multiple periods, or are experiencing other abnormal symptoms, whether mental or physical, please do seek help from your GP or gynecologist.