A woman's menstrual cycle also called as monthly period can range anywhere from 21–35 days. The word 'menstruation' is derived from the Latin word menses meaning month. Regular menstrual cycle is an indication that the body is producing the reproductive hormones in the appropriate amount required for human reproduction.
Is it Normal to Miss Periods?
A woman may sometimes miss her periods. There are only few times in a woman's life when her periods can be irregular but completely normal. Those times are after the first period, or menarche; the first few menstrual cycles after a miscarriage, abortion, or childbirth; during pregnancy and before menopause. During these times, a woman does not ovulate properly or regularly.
Reasons for Missed Periods When Not Pregnant
If you experience missed periods once or twice over a period of one year, it is usually not a cause for much concern. However, if the cycles are more unpredictable, one must consult a doctor. If the menstrual pattern is not consistent, it might indicate the onset of perimenopause, or hormonal imbalance which impacts menstruation.
There could be numerous other factors that might lead to missed or irregular periods. Some of these factors include:
Significant Weight Gain or Loss Causing Missed Periods:
Both low body weight as well as obesity can result in changes in your menstrual cycle causing missed periods when not pregnant. Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa can also cause this disruption. Poor nutrition also has an impact – if you are not getting the appropriate nutrients your body need, it might be reflected as not getting regular periods. Getting treatment for your eating disorder and maintaining a normal weight, with regards to your height, in a healthy way can return your cycle to normal.
Over Exercising Can be a Reason for Missed Periods When Not Pregnant:
Regular exercise is good for your overall health. However, if you over-exercise, your body responds accordingly and shows the signs. Women endurance athletes like marathon runners quite often experience missed periods. When you are under extreme stress, it prevents you from ovulating on time, getting the normal hormonal levels or even building the endometrial lining required for getting pregnant.
Stress leads to hormonal imbalance as it affects the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for regulating your menstrual cycle. In the long course, stress leads to illness or sudden weight loss or gain, which also hampers the cycle causing you to miss your periods when not pregnant. Relaxation techniques and exercising can help you get back on track.
Thyroid Problems as a Reason for Missed Periods When Not Pregnant:
Thyroid gland which is located in the neck helps in regulating body metabolism and also supports the bodily systems to run smoothly. Hence, hypo- or hyperthyroidism might have an implication on your period.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS):
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition where a woman experiences hormonal imbalance that leads to lack of ovulation or delayed ovulation. This in turn results in altered levels of oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Polycystic ovarian syndrome might cause missed periods or delayed periods when not pregnant. PCOS might also cause facial and chest hair growth, difficulty in losing weight, and also fertility issues. It is important to manage PCOS by consulting a doctor as it might also lead to type 2 diabetes.
Any chronic diseases, if left untreated or undiagnosed, are a stressor to your general bodily system and can result in missed periods. One such condition is celiac disease which causes inflammation and can lead to damage in the small intestine. This, as a result, may prevent the body from absorbing key nutrients, thus causing missed or late periods when not pregnant.
Use of Birth Control Pills as a Reason for Missed Periods When Not Pregnant:
A missed period or late period can actually be a harmless outcome of the measures you take to avoid pregnancy. Some low-dose pills will cause a lack of periods, as these pills contain the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. After stopping the pill, it might take up till six months for the cycles to become regular. Other contraceptive methods such as implanted devices or injections can also lead to missed periods.
Premature Ovarian Failure Causing Missed Periods When Not Pregnant:
Premature ovarian failure is a condition wherein the ovarian reserve gets over before the age of 45 years. Most women attain menopause between 45 to 55 years. Women who develop symptoms of menopause around 40 years or earlier are considered to experience early peri-menopause. This means that your oocyte reserve is getting over, and the outcome is missed periods and eventually the end of periods.
Excessive Travel as a Reason for Missed Periods:
Temporary travels are also a disturbance in a persons' normal routine. Since the hormones that rule the menstrual cycle is sensitive to anything that is new – starting from stress to changes in eating habits – you might have delayed period and sometimes, a missed period – due to the travel.
Other diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, tuberculosis, liver disease, and diabetes can also lead to missed or irregular periods; although this is rare. However, if you are suffering from any of these diseases, you will also experience other disease related symptoms besides menstrual irregularities. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy to the pelvis or abdomen may also cause premature ovarian failure and thus can cause missed periods.
Most women have 11 to 13 menstrual periods every year. Some may have more or fewer and at sometimes, you may miss a period due to varied reason. Missed periods could be normal during the early years of menstruation as well as when nearing menopause. Since there could be varied causes behind missed periods, it is important to talk to a doctor if you are experiencing it.
In majority of times, destressing yourself, improving your nutrition and including adequate nutritional supplements can naturally restore your regular menstrual cycles. It gives the body it's much needed boost and thus, support the hormonal balance and monthly period cycles. However, if there are any underlying diseases, proper treatment should be taken to restore the normal health.