Pregnancy is the most common and obvious reason for missed periods but it’s not the only one. Your lifestyle, health conditions and medications can also influence your cycle. Hormonal imbalance, weight changes, and stress are some of the most common reasons if you are not pregnant. You can miss a period or two, or you may have complete amenorrhea (the absence of menstruation for three or more months in a row). In this article, we gathered five causes of missed periods you should know.
1. Heavy workouts
Extreme workouts can cause changes in the pituitary hormones and thyroid hormones, leading to changes in menstruation and ovulation. If you are exercising for an hour or two a day, you shouldn’t worry about your periods. But strenuous exercise for several hours is able to produce great hormonal changes. If you plan to do physical exercises every day for several hours, be sure to consult a sports medicine doctor. He or she can help you maintain optimal nutrition, recommend stretching exercises and blood tests so your body will be able to satisfy all the physical needs that you put on it.
2. Health issues
Chronic conditions that can affect your menstrual cycles include:
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Thyroid disease
- Pituitary tumors
- Ovarian cysts
- Adrenal disease
- Liver dysfunction
Any of these diseases can interfere with your cycle and it may not return to normal until the condition is cured. Congenital chromosomal conditions like Turner syndrome and androgen insensitivity syndrome usually cause menstrual irregularities, fertility issues and are associated with amenorrhea.
Some illnesses like a heart attack, pneumonia, meningitis or kidney failure can lead to rapid weight loss, nutritional deficiencies or hormonal dysfunction. These conditions can cause you to miss a period during illness. Even after successful treatment, it may take several months before your menstruation returns again.
There are some medications like thyroid medications, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, and certain chemotherapeutic drugs that can lead to an absence or delay of menstruation. Hormonal contraceptives are also able to affect your cycle. Every kind of contraceptive has its own list of expected side effects on your menstrual cycle. Some of them are associated with heavy periods and some with amenorrhea.
4. Weight changes
Being overweight, underweight, or sudden weight changes can affect your cycle. Obesity affects estrogen and progesterone and can even lead to decreased fertility. High body mass index (BMI) is linked to missed periods and weight loss can help regulate the menstrual cycle in obese women.
Underweight also interferes with regular menstrual cycles. If there is not enough fat and other nutrients in the body, it cannot produce hormones as it should. Women with anorexia or those who burn more calories during exercise than those they consume with food may have amenorrhea. In this case, weight gain is able to help return your periods.
Sudden weight changes such as weight loss or weight gain because of dietary changes, illness or medications can also affect hormone production which may lead to the omission of one or more periods.
Deep stress alters the production of gonadotropin-releasing hormone and interferes with your periods. If you are experience prolonged anxiety or dealing with an overwhelming situation and during this time you missed more than one period, see your doctor and decide what to do with problems that cause you stress. But even when your stress returns to a controllable level, it can take several months until your cycles will be regular again.