Sometimes, our periods mess with us. Just when you’ve settled into a routine and think you know when exactly when there will be blood… nothing. Go a month or more without needing a tampon, and before you know it you’re stockpiling home pregnancy tests, even if it’s six months since you last had sex. But don’t panic.
There are all kinds of life changes that might cause you to skip a period. Let’s look at four of the most common…
A change in routine
Have you suddenly become a night owl after years of going to bed early? Taken a new job that sees you pry yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn? Or maybe you’ve moved from the city to the beach, started a new job, or otherwise shaken up your life? As weird as it might sound, changes in our daily routines (even positive ones) can shock your body into missing a period. The good news is, it will soon readjust.
Losing a lot of weight can prevent your body from making enough estrogen to menstruate. If you suddenly gain weight, on the other hand, your body might produce too much, which can also prevent ovulation (or cause heavier periods; your body really is a wonderland). Take a moderate approach to diet and avoid exercising to excess or restricting calories. If that’s a struggle, ask a medical professional for help.
When you’re going through a rough time, your body slows down non-essential functions, including your reproductive system, until you get back on track. That means you might miss a period or two when you’re in a state of stress, but when life calms down, it should come right back. In the meantime, have some early nights, try relaxation techniques like breathing exercises or meditation, and enjoy your temporary ability to wear white pants without fear.
Not only does your body think it’s helpful to postpone your period when you’re stressed out, it sometimes does the same thing when you have a nasty infection—or even just a heavy cold. Missing a period can also be a symptom of some types of medication, including antidepressants, antipsychotics, and corticosteroids, so if you have a long-term health condition you might want to check out whether your Rx will nix your period.
So, you might be wondering, when does a skipped period mean something more serious?
Amenorrhea is the medical term for not having a period for three months in a row, and unless your periods have just started (when you can expect them to be patchy) it’s a sign you should see a doctor.
A hormonal imbalance like PCOS is the cause in as many as one in three cases, and especially likely if you’re also experiencing excess facial or body hair, acne, and sudden weight gain. Both an underactive and overactive thyroid can lead to missing a period. If it’s overactive (hyperthyroid), you’ll also lose weight, sweat more, and have a rapid heartbeat. If it’s underactive (hypothyroid) you’ll have fatigue, weight gain, and dry skin.
There’s the possibility of an early menopause, but that’s unlikely under the age of 40 unless you’ve had chemotherapy or radiation, or have an autoimmune disorder like lupus. In rare cases, not having a period can be a sign of ovarian cancer, but other symptoms are more common, including abdominal pain, bloating, and difficulty eating.
Whatever your symptoms, we still don’t recommend worrying, but if your period goes away and doesn’t come back, get yourself checked out, stat.
Photo courtesy of HuffPost