11 other reasons for a missed period: besides being pregnant
If you miss your period, the reason behind it is not always pregnancy. There are several other reasons for a missed period that might be related to your lifestyle, a medical condition, or may even be a severe issue. All these can mess up your menstrual cycle and become one of the main reasons for a missed period.
Sometimes, this delay in the menstrual cycle may extend up to one to two months, and in severe cases, one may undergo complete amenorrhea, in which one does not have their period three or more extended months in a row.
Therefore, from menopause to hormonal irregularities to extreme weight loss or weight gain to a grave medical condition, anything can turn into a reason for missed periods besides pregnancy; and here in this article, we will explore each one of them one-by-one.
11 reasons for missed period besides pregnancy
- Recently Started Periods
If you have just entered the age where you got your first period or have recently started to have periods, this could be one of the period delay reasons.
The usual menstrual cycle for a healthy person is around 21 to 35 days (although it can vary for some), and if you are a young woman or someone who has just started again her periods after a long time due to a medical condition, hormonal therapy, or contraceptive use; having a regular period cycle might take some time.
A young woman may go months without having a period until a regular pattern of the period cycle is attained.
This is one of the most common reasons for a missed period to start with our list.
- Weight Changes
One being overweight or underweight does not bring any good to anyone. It is a serious health issue, and ultimately it can interfere with your menstrual cycles. But if you think that by doing some kind of dieting and all the random stuff, you can lose weight overnight, then here is a gentle reminder that even sudden weight changes too can hinder a regular period cycle.
If we talk about obesity, it not only affects your periods but can also lead to infertility. This happens because having a high BMI (body mass index) alters progesterone and estrogen and may decrease potency. Therefore, an overweight woman can always regulate and shed some weight with exercises and keep an eye on what she eats, but with caution and the help of trained personnel.
However, if you are severely underweight, this could also be why you missed regular periods. Being underweight makes your body deficient in fat and other nutrients, hindering the hormonal production necessary for getting your periods.
In extreme cases, if one burns more calories than the intake or is suffering from anorexia (insufficient food intake), may possibly experience amenorrhea. One might try to gain weight by applying healthful measures.
Overall, any kind of rapid weight fluctuations, let it be weight loss or weight gain because of dietary changes, medication issues, or anything else, can indeed interfere with essential hormone release, leading to a delay in the period.
- Ectopic pregnancy
Okay, so everybody might not be knowing this, but this could be the cause of the delay in your menstrual cycle. And this one is among the most serious reasons for a missed period.
As everyone knows, pregnancy starts with a fertilized egg, when the egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. Right? But in an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg implants and starts to develop outside the cavity of the uterus, generally in a fallopian tube. The fallopian tube is the one that provides the path for the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus, hence the name tubal pregnancy.
However, this type of pregnancy can occur in any other part of the body, like the cervix (the lower part of the uterus), abdominal cavity, or the ovary.
One thing to keep in mind is that even though a pregnancy test may come positive, an ectopic pregnancy isn’t actually a pregnancy and cannot proceed normally. As the fertilized egg is attached outside the uterus and is developing there, it can not survive for long, and if left untreated, it can lead to life-threatening bleeding.
At first, you might not notice the symptoms as they are pretty similar to pregnancy but notice if you experience pelvic pain, shoulder pain, sudden urge to have a bowel movement or light vaginal bleeding.
These symptoms are not specific and vary depending on where the blood collects and vex which nerve.
Typically during the mid-40s and early 50s, the body transits from being fertile to infertile, and this interval of time is called perimenopause. Everyone experiences menstruation differently during this transformation from reproductive age to a non-reproductive age. For example, some women might not have periods as frequent as they used to get, and for others, they might be lighter or heavier.
One can say that the path that leads to menopause is perimenopause. If you are not having periods or having irregular periods for almost a year and you come under the slab of this age category, then you are on the verge of reaching menopause. During this time, your progesterone and estrogen levels will start to decline gradually, leading to some bodily changes as an aberrant menstrual pattern, vaginal dryness, and mood swings.
The perimenopause period ends here. This is the point where your LH and FSH levels are high, with low estrogen and progesterone levels, and now you will ovulate or menstruate.
Although the average age for the ovaries to stop ovulating and producing menstrual hormones is 51 years, in most women, this natural process occurs between the age of 40 to 58.
Diagnostically speaking, if you do not get your periods continuously for about 12 months (approx. 1 year), you have arrived at your menopause age.
So if you are a nursing mother and have missed a period while breastfeeding, it is not a big deal. Breastfeeding or lactating mothers might have light, occasional, or no period at all. It is a common reason for a missed period; therefore, one should not panic. However, there is a misconception among many women that not having periods while breastfeeding acts as birth control– “it does not.” It would be best to take birth control precautions as one can get pregnant even when breastfeeding.
Medication can also hinder your menstrual cycle by delaying it or by completely making it absent. These medicines can be birth control precautionary measures or associated with any other serious medical issues.
Some chemotherapy medications, anticonvulsants, thyroid medications, antipsychotics, and antidepressants, can possess medical reasons for a missed period.
Hormonal contraceptives might also affect your regular period cycle. Nonetheless, each contraceptive has its own impact on menses, and it could make the period blood flow light or heavy, or some can even experience amenorrhea.
- A Change in Your Schedule
Erratic schedules, sudden working hours changes, frequent unexpected plans, etc., all can throw off your body clock. This kind of body time disturbance can reasonably lead to unpredictable period cycles. Even jet lag can play its role in the inconsistent menstrual cycle as your body clock is not in sync with the time.
Although a messed-up schedule does not really stop your period, it might delay it for a few days or lead your period to come early.
If you ask what’s another reason for a missed period, then “illness” is one of them. Although many of us are unaware of this, your menstrual cycle can be affected by certain chronic conditions like diabetes, liver dysfunction, ovarian cysts, adrenal gland disease, pituitary tumors, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), and thyroid disease.
Until these conditions are treated, they continue to interfere with the person’s period cycle.
Furthermore, the diseases might not affect your menstrual cycle but may indirectly lead to missed or delayed periods. For example, acute ailments like meningitis, kidney failure, a heart attack, or pneumonia can lead to sudden weight loss that further impacts your hormonal functions or may cause nutritional deficiency. All these illnesses can become reasons for missed periods besides pregnancy.
Moving a little further, if we talk about congenital chromosomal conditions like androgen insensitivity syndrome and Turner syndrome, they are often associated with delay in menstruation, fertility issues, and even amenorrhea.
But there is no need to panic as one can get back to their period cycle once these illnesses have been treated successfully.
- Extreme Exercise
Exercising has always been a good thing to do to keep oneself healthy and fit. However, what is not good is “Extreme Exercising.”
Extreme Exercising is when you are working out for extended hours in one day (which is done mainly by athletes, sportspersons, etc.).
Exercising for lengthened durations (more than one or two hours per day, which is fine) can alter your thyroid and pituitary hormones, leading to changes in menstrual cycles and ovulation.
Anyhow, if you are in a sport that demands you to do strenuous exercise for extensive hours in a day, you must seek the advice of doctors, nutritionists, and physiotherapists. They will provide all the necessary information regarding the nutritional intake, blood testing for health issues and may also recommend stretching to maintain your body’s support for fulfilling all the physical demands.
Our everyday lives are full of stress, and to some extent, “eustress” is beneficial for getting things done on time. However, intense stress or “distress” can cause you internal bodily harm, such as altering your period cycle and hindering ovulation by producing gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH).
Remember that this type of stress does not arise from daily ups and downs from school and work. Meaning you are having a severe kind of stress that must be dealt with immediate care.
If you are dealing with upsetting scenarios in your life or encountering prolonged anxiety with delays in your periods, it’s time to consult your doctor.
As soon as your stress comes to a manageable level, your body will start functioning as it used to do, and you will start getting your regular periods.
As we all now know that there are quite many reasons for delayed or missed periods, and most of them are not that alarming; we should never forget that “our health is in our hands.” If you missed your periods more than once, then giving your doctor a visit is the best thing to do. It can be something more serious that will only come to light with a doctor’s evaluation.