So, you've missed a period. Why? Am I pregnant? This is a question that comes up in a lot of women's lives. In fact, most women will miss a period for some reason or another over the course of their lives. It's important to take a moment and think about what could be causing it, as there are a number of benign reasons that a woman can miss her period, as well as more concerning ones.
Should I Worry If I Miss a Period?
No, simply missing a period is not a cause for concern, nor does it necessarily mean that you're pregnant. There are plenty of reasons that you can miss a period, and most of them are quite simple.
Age and Menstrual Cycle
To start with, how old are you?
If you are under 20, remember that the first few years after you get your period are characterized by irregular and missed periods as your body establishes its own natural cycle. This is completely normal.
If you are over 40, you may be reaching perimenopause, the stage before menopause, where periods can be missed or become irregular.
Common Causes of Missed Periods
There are also a number of changes that can cause a missed period.
Pregnancy. If you've been sexually active, you may be pregnant. Pregnancy tests can be purchased at your local drugstore.
Breastfeeding. If you are breastfeeding, you may not get a period, but be aware that it is still possible to become pregnant.
Stress. Severe stress can cause missed or irregular periods.
Contraceptives. Hormonal contraceptives - including oral, implanted, and injected - can cause missed periods.
Medications. Some kinds of medications can lead to missed periods, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, thyroid medication, and some chemotherapy drugs.
Weight loss or gain. Excessive and sudden weight change can also be a cause.
- Over-exercising. While some exercise is good, too much can cause missed periods.
There are, of course, a few more serious disorders that can cause you to miss a period. If you suspect you have any of these, please consult your doctor.
Thyroid disorder. This occurs when your thyroid hormones are unbalanced.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This can also cause excessive bleeding and menstrual irregularity.
What If They Continue?
Missing one period is not a cause for concern. If you continue missing them, you should see a doctor, especially if you are experiencing other symptoms concurrently.
If you are on birth control, be aware that some contraceptives, such as the hormonal IUD, are known for eliminating periods in some women for the duration used. Consult your doctor if you are concerned.
If missed periods are caused by lifestyle issues, such as sudden weight changes, excessive exercise, or undue stress, they may remain until you solve the root issues in your life and stabilize your emotional and physical state.
Learn more about irregular period treatments.
- Girls' Health. (2014). Periods. Retrieved July 23, 2015, from http://www.girlshealth.gov/body/period/
- National Health Service UK. (2014). Periods: Do I need a doctor? Retrieved July 23, 2015, from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/menstrualcycle/Pages/DoIneedtoseeadoctor.aspx