Some women are lucky and have a totally regular, around-the-clock menstrual cycle. Some women struggle with erratic and irregular periods that are barely there one month and crazy heavy the next. And then some women have periods that come and go with no warning or explanation. If you're concerned about irregular periods, it's not a bad idea to keep track of when they come and how long they last so that you can talk to your doctor. In the meantime, here are some reasons why your period can go MIA.
Usually, the first thing that pops into your head when you miss your period is, "Am I pregnant?" During a normal menstrual cycle, if you're not pregnant, your hormone levels will drop causing you to have your period. If you are pregnant, your period stops. But pregnancy isn't the only reason why your period could take a break. Keep reading for more reasons why your period may disappear. Some of them may surprise you!
Being overweight can affect your period. Overweight women carry extra fat cells in their body that end up producing extra estrogen. This can cause women not to ovulate. And even though the uterine tissue and lining build up, she still might not have a period. (And then when she does, look out! It can be pretty heavy.) Being underweight can mess with your period, too. Women who are underweight or have an eating disorder usually have a suppressed hypothalamus gland, so they don't make enough estrogen, which means they don't have regular periods, either.
10 Stress and Illness
Stress, anxiety, and illness can really take a toll on your body and your period. While you might not feel overly stressed or anxious, your body is sensitive to any changes and the feelings you experience. Stress can disrupt your digestive system, your breathing, and heart rate, as well as your period. Your period can get all out of whack because excessive stress affects the part of the brain that controls your hormones. Once you get your stressors under control, your period should eventually return to normal.
9 Excessive Exercise
Intense exercise can decrease the amount of hormones released in the body (or cause them to be released less frequently) and this disruption can cause irregular or missed periods. When a vigorous exercise program is coupled with a low-calorie diet, it's even more likely that your menstrual cycle will be disrupted. You don't have to avoid strenuous exercise altogether, but your period will resume once you reduce your physical activity or increase your calorie intake. Talk to your doctor about how much exercise.
8 Your Birth Control
You may be taking birth control to avoid pregnancy, or you might be taking birth control to regulate your periods. Sometimes birth control can cause your periods to become irregular. If you miss or skip doses, or take a pill late, then you may have abnormal spotting, bleeding, or even miss your period entirely. With continuous birth control pills, you take the active doses for three months straight, and then take the inactive pills for a week so you only have your period a few times a year!
7 Other Medications
Taking other medications can disrupt your menstrual cycle. Things like anticoagulants, antidepressants, and antibiotics can all affect your cycle and even alter the effectiveness of the birth control pill. Even taking aspirin and ibuprofen can mess with your cycle. Always check with your doctor before starting any new medications.
6 Hormonal Imbalance
Because your reproductive system is controlled by hormones, your menstrual cycle will be off if your hormones are thrown out of balance. PMS symptoms, perimenopause, and menopause are all due to too many or too little hormones being produced. As you get older and ovulate less, less progesterone is released causing you to have anything from missed periods to heavy bleeding. During menopause, less estrogen and progesterone are produced causing periods to stop.
5 Trouble Sleeping
Doctors are still trying to figure out the connection between lack of sleep and lack of periods. Although not entirely sure why poor sleep habits can affect your menstrual cycle, it's believed that a disrupted sleep cycle can affect your hormone levels. Travel across time zones and working different shifts can mess with your period, too!
4 Working with Pesticides
Researchers have found that exposure to pesticides can affect hormone production in animals, and humans. This exposure can cause longer cycles, missed periods, and spotting between periods. Women who live or work on farms aren't the only ones affected. It's a good idea to avoid pesticide-treated fruits and vegetables whenever possible.
3 Thyroid Issues
The thyroid is a gland that produces and releases the thyroid hormone in the body. Diseases of the thyroid can cause the gland to produce too much or too little of the hormone, which can make you lose or gain weight, feel tired, or have an irregular cycle. Women are more likely to have thyroid trouble, and it often shows up right after pregnancy or during menopause. As with other hormones, if you are making too much or too little of the thyroid hormone, you could have extremely heavy or abnormally light periods or your period could go away for a while.
Although many women with PCOS have regular periods, high hormone and insulin levels can disrupt ovulation and menstruation. PCOS can also cause exceptionally heavy or light periods. Some women with PCOS can also have periods that stop altogether. There's no real way to diagnose PCOS; rather, doctors will look at your symptoms and rule out all other possible problems first.
When menopause comes to mind, you probably imagine that it's several years away. Perimenopause, however, is the transitional period (no pun intended!) where your body gets ready to go into menopause, and it can start in your 30s or 40s. Some women experience the hot flashes and night sweats that come with menopause, and another common symptom of perimenopause is irregular periods.
As hormone levels fluctuate and ovulation doesn't occur as regularly, the time between periods may become longer or shorter, and your period may go away for quite a while before randomly showing up again. According to the Mayo Clinic, you may be experiencing early perimenopause if your period is persistently late a week or more. Late perimenopause is indicated by menstrual cycles that appear about 60 days apart. Perimenopause ends when a woman has gone twelve months without a period.