Is Your Period MIA?
Ladies, we all know that our monthly period can seem like both a blessing and a curse. While that time of the month usually means cramps, bloating, irritability and chocolate cravings are on their way, it is also a sign of regularity and good health.
However, at some point many of us are likely to experience an irregular month, where our period is different or nonexistent. Before you jump to the conclusion that you are pregnant or something is seriously wrong, Sheila Warren, RN and Gwinnett Medical Center’s Women’s Health Navigator, helps to provide insight into why your period may be absent.
A change in hormone levels can affect your cycle or fertility. For example, teens tend to have low or changing progesterone levels. This is also true for women close to menopause. That is why teens and women in their 40s may have heavy menstrual bleeding and cycles that vary in length.
Also, for women who have recently delivered a baby, it can take upwards of 45 days, or longer if they’re breastfeeding, for their periods to return. This is due to changing hormone levels.
Using contraceptives, which regulate estrogen and progesterone levels, help to minimize the symptoms of PMS and lighten the menstrual flow. However, contraceptives can impact your period in unexpected ways.
Some contraceptives, like birth control pills and IUD’s, can make it so that you only get your period every few months, since these contraceptives inhibit ovulation. Keep a look out for other side effects as well.
Unfortunately, many of us endure near constant stress. Major life events (e.g., death of a family member, loss of your job, divorce, or illness…etc.) and even the minor daily stressors can take a toll on your body.
When it comes to your monthly cycle, it takes a major life stressor to impact your period. Interestingly enough, the reasons why our periods are missing during stressful events is due to our body’s survival instincts. Keep in mind that excessive exercise (i.e. working out for several hours a day) can be perceived as a major stressor by your body.
Change in Body Weight and/or Body Fat
When you go through rapid weight gain or rapid weight loss it is very stressful on your body. Your body will respond to the weight change by altering hormone production, which will impact your period.
Additionally, you should remember that body fat matters, too. If your weight changes, thereby impacting your body fat, this can affect your period as your body requires a certain amount of body fat to ovulate.
Both PCOS and hypothyroidism are common in women of childbearing age. Both of these conditions cause similar types of symptoms, which can make them very hard to identify and treat.
In addition to both of these conditions impacting menstrual cycles, they can also cause symptoms such as: changes in skin, changes in metabolism or weight gain, tiredness (fatigue) and changes in hair growth. Even if you experience one or more of these symptoms, a physician will need to run tests in order to accurately diagnose and treat these conditions.
You have not started menstruating by the age of 15
Your period suddenly stops for more than 90 days
Your periods become very irregular after having had regular, monthly cycles
Your period occurs more often than every 21 days or less often than every 35 days
You are bleeding for more than 7 days
You are bleeding more heavily than usual or using more than 1 pad or tampon every 1 to 2 hours
You frequently bleed between periods
You have severe pain during your periodYou suddenly get a fever and feel sick after using tampons