Common Causes Of Missed Periods
The most common cause of a missed period is pregnancy. However, if youre not sexually active, havent had sex in a few months, or got a negative result on your pregnancy test, you already know thats not the issue.
That leads us to other possibilities. While one late or missing period isnt worth fretting about, you shouldnt let it become a common occurrence. Here are the five most common causes of irregular periods, and what you can do about them.
Missed Periods And Pregnancy
If youve had unprotected sex, you may have missed your period because youre pregnant. You may want to rule out pregnancy first by taking a pregnancy test, or you can see if you need to take a test with our Am I pregnant quiz.
Keep an eye out for any early pregnancy symptoms, like:
- tender breasts
These symptoms coupled with a missed period could mean you are pregnant
Other Ways To Skip Your Period
Taking birth control pills arent the only way to skip your period. Other options include the progestin-releasing intrauterine device , progestin injection , progestin implant , and the combination NuvaRing or contraceptive patches.
If you arent sure about the pill, speak with your doctor about your other options. Make sure you speak with your doctor before using a birth control patch to skip your period. Compared to birth controls pills, the patch has a slightly increased risk for blood clotting. However, the patch is the same general formulation as combination pills.
Recommended Reading: How Long Can You Have Your Period
When To Visit The Doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you can’t pinpoint the reasons for a late period they may want to check for various conditions. It’s also important to note that vaginal bleeding after a late period may not be the monthly visitor you were expecting. “Anybody who experiences heavy bleeding and pain after a missed period and/or a positive pregnancy test should go to the doctor,” says Dr. McDonald. “All bleeding is not a period, especially in a setting where something is off.”
How To Keep Your Menstrual Cycle On Track
If you miss your period while on the pill and you havent missed any doses, pregnancy isnt likely. Instead, the hormones in the pill are likely the cause. If you miss a second period and havent missed any doses, pregnancy is still unlikely. At this point though, if youre sexually active, its still worth taking a pregnancy test or calling your doctor.
Your doctor can help you address any other factors that may be at play. After youve pinpointed the cause, you should be able to get your period back on a regular cycle. You may be able to do this in a number of ways:
- Make sure you take time to relieve stress. Try breathing techniques, yoga, restorative walks, and even journaling to get at the root of your stress.
- Eat a healthy diet and work to keep your weight in a normal range. If you suspect you have an eating disorder, tell a friend or your doctor so they can point you to the resources you need to get help.
- Keep up with regular exercise. Your activity level may seem manageable to you, but see if stepping back a bit helps your regular bleeding resume.
Recommended Reading: How To Make Your Period End Faster
Will I Need Any Tests
If you go to see a doctor about your periods stopping, first of all the doctor will ask you some questions. For example, the doctor will want to know:
- If you have ever had periods and whether they were regular.
- How long you have not had periods for.
- If you have recently been using any contraception.
- If you are on any medication or have any other medical conditions.
- If you have recently lost weight.
- If you are under any stress.
- If there is any chance you could be pregnant.
- If you have any other symptoms, such as hot flushes or milk leaking from your breasts. The doctor may also ask about symptoms of pregnancy such as morning sickness or tender breasts.
Your doctor may then wish to examine you. The doctor may want to check your weight and height and then work out your BMI. They may also want to feel your tummy. They may want to look for signs of possible causes. In some cases an internal examination may be needed.Whether further tests are needed will depend on what has been discovered from talking to you and examining you. You may not need any tests at all. Tests which may be needed include:
- A pregnancy test .
- Blood tests. These are done to check out a number of possible causes. They may be done to check hormone levels . Occasionally tests for gene abnormalities may be needed.
- An ultrasound scan.
Possible Causes For A Late Period
If your period is late and you have performed at least 2 pregnancy tests in the last month, with a 7-day interval between testing, you are very likely not pregnant, and the delay may be due to other situations such as:
These situations can lead to the absence of your menstrual cycle for more than 3 months and it is recommended that you see your doctor if this happens.
Also Check: How To Stop My Period Fast
What Should I Do If I Have Had Periods Which Have Now Stopped
Don’t panic! In most cases there is nothing serious going on. The most important thing to do is to do a pregnancy test if there is any chance at all you could be pregnant. If you otherwise feel well in yourself, and you are not pregnant, then the chances are your periods will start up again in due course.
You should see a doctor if:
- You have not had a period for three months and your periods were previously regular.
- You have not had a period for nine months but your periods have always been infrequent.
- You could be pregnant.
- You wish to become pregnant.
- You have hot flushes and are under the age of 45.
- You have lost weight or your BMI is 19 or less.
- You or someone close to you is concerned about your eating or weight.
- You have milk leaking from your breasts and are not breastfeeding.
- You feel unwell in yourself .
- You have not had a period for six months after stopping the contraceptive pill.
- You are worried about your lack of periods.
The Basics Of Birth Control Pills
When you swallow birth control pills, youre ingesting one or more synthetic hormones. This could be a combination of estrogen and progestin, or just progestin, depending on the type of birth control that youre taking. These hormones work to prevent pregnancy in three different ways.
They also thicken the cervical mucus, which makes it harder for sperm to reach an egg if one is released. The hormones can thin the uterine lining, too. This means that if an egg does get fertilized, itll be difficult for it to attach to the uterine lining and develop.
Birth control pills are over 99 percent effective when used correctly. This means taking the pill at the same time every day. If you miss a day or youre late taking your pill, the efficacy can decrease. With typical use, the failure rate is about
Several different types of birth control pills are available.
Some are similar to the pill packs that were first made available in 1960. They included 21 days of pills with active hormones and seven placebo or inactive pills. When you take an inactive pill, it allows for bleeding that mimics normal menstruation.
There are also packs that allow for 24 days of active pills and a shorter menstrual-like bleeding period.
Extended-cycle or continuous regimens consist of a couple of months worth of active pills. They can either reduce the number of periods you have or eliminate your period entirely.
Don’t Miss: What Does Birth Control Do For Periods
Major Weight Loss Or Gain
When it comes to surprise weight changes, Aunt Flo is the first to notice. The length and heaviness of a menstrual cycle is directly correlated with weight, says A. Nicky Hjort, M.D., OB-GYN. If you gain weight, an abnormal period often happens next. It might be heavy one month and absent the next. Rapid weight loss produces a similar effect, causing a light or missed period. This is also true if youre engaging in excessive exercise, Hjort adds. Endurance athletes who are often on the move are likely to experience this. Why the correlation? It comes down to the ability of fat cells to produce extra estrogen, the female sex hormone that regulates the menstrual cycle. When theres too much or too little, a hormonal imbalance occurs and causes irregular or missed periods. In essence, any rapid weight change can shock your body. Getting your body back to an appropriately healthy weight can help regulate your cycle.
Producing Too Much Prolactin
Prolactin is a hormone that the body usually makes during breastfeeding. It can halt menstruation and is the reason why most breastfeeding women do not have periods.
In people who are not breastfeeding, a milky discharge from the nipples can signify that the body is making an abnormally high amount of prolactin. Doctors can treat excessive prolactin production with medication.
Doing Too Much Exercise
The stress that intense physical activity places on your body can affect the hormones responsible for your periods. Losing too much body fat through intense exercise can also stop you ovulating.
You’ll be advised to reduce your level of activity if excessive exercise has caused your periods to stop.
If you’re a professional athlete, you may benefit from seeing a doctor who specialises in sports medicine. They’ll be able to give you advice about how to maintain your performance without disrupting your periods.
My Period Is Late: Is There Any Reason To Be Worried
Numerous studies show that a slight variation in the length of your menstrual cycle is normal.
More than 100 women with normal menstrual cycle lengths took part in a large-scale study that showed interesting results: cycle variability of more than seven days was observed in 42.5 percent of the participants! As you can see, a one to two-day variation is very common.
Track my period
Also Check: How To Help Bloating During Period
There Are Many Reasons That Periods Can Be Irregular Or Absent Some Require Treatment And Some Do Not
It is not uncommon to occasionally miss a period, or for periods to become irregular from time to time. Under some circumstances, periods can even stop altogether. Sometimes these irregularities are due to normal changes, and are not cause for concern. Other times, they are a sign that something is going on, and a call to your doctor is warranted.
Explore Irregular or Absent Periods:
Can Stress Cause Spotting
Absolutely. That fight-or-flight response we mentioned above isnât limited to just shutting your period down or delaying it for a few days. Stress can also cause spotting, aka when you kind of have a little blood coming out , but not enough for you to qualify as a full period. This often happens between periods, leading you to be like, âwhy is this happening 15 days early?â
Recommended Reading: Is It Normal For Your Period To Skip A Month
Why Am I Not Getting My Period At All
The medical term for absent periods is amenorrhea, and is considered to occur when a woman who has previously had normal periods stops menstruating for six months or more. Many of the causes of amenorrhea are the same as those for a skipped period. Your period can be absent for a number of reasons:
The most common reason to not get your period is because you are pregnant. A home pregnancy test can quickly tell you if that is the reason.
Most women stop getting their periods in their late 40s or early 50s. The average age is 51 years old.
If you breastfeed frequently, including at night-time, you may not get a period for many months. Be aware that you will ovulate prior to getting your period back, so birth control is important if you are not ready to be pregnant again.
While a sudden stressful life event can result in a single missed period, ongoing, high level stress and anxiety can cause your period to stop altogether. Managing stress though self-care, counselling, changing your life circumstances, medication, or other strategies can help you return to having normal periods.
Ongoing, dramatic weight loss, from low intake, excessive exercise, gastric bypass surgery, or eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia can stop your period. This happens because the hormones required for ovulation are not produced.
High levels of prolactin
Premature ovarian failure
Depression Can Also Affect Your Period
Like stress, depression can also have an effect on hormones. Depression is one of the factors that can lead to amenorrhea, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The two conditions are often linked people with chronic stress in their life have a higher risk of developing depression, notes the Mayo Clinic.
There’s another consideration when it comes to depression and your period: Some antidepressant medications including SSRIs can increase the levels of a hormone called prolactin, according to a March 2015 review published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. This can delay your period or skip it entirely.
Plus, people experiencing depression often shift their eating habits and experience a loss of appetite. Not eating sufficiently, and having a low body weight, are potential causes of amenorrhea, per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
If your period is irregular or doesn’t occur at all for more than three months, you should talk to your gynecologist, Livingston says.
Read Also: What To Do To Relieve Period Cramps