A missed period can be a cause of concern for many women. While pregnancy is often the first thought that comes to mind, there are several other factors that can contribute to a missed menstrual cycle. In this blog, we will explore the various causes of a missed period, backed by scientific research. By understanding the underlying reasons, women can gain insight into their reproductive health and take appropriate measures. Let's dive into the world of menstrual cycles and explore the potential causes of missed periods.
CAUSES OF A MISSED MENSTRUAL CYCLE
1.Pregnancy: When a woman misses her period, the first possibility that springs to mind is pregnancy. A missed period can be an early sign of pregnancy, especially if there have been unprotected sexual encounters during the fertile window.
Pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself into the lining of the uterus, interrupting the normal menstrual cycle. The body starts producing human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that helps maintain pregnancy and prevents menstruation.
2. Hormonal Imbalances: Hormonal imbalances can disrupt the normal menstrual cycle and lead to missed periods. Imbalances in hormones like estrogen and progesterone can affect the regularity and timing of menstruation.
Hormonal imbalances can occur due to various factors such as stress, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid disorders, excessive exercise, or drastic changes in weight. These imbalances can interfere with the hormone levels necessary for proper ovulation and menstrual cycle regulation.
3. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a common hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. It is characterized by hormonal imbalances, enlarged ovaries with small cysts, and irregular or absent menstrual periods.
In PCOS, the hormonal imbalances, particularly elevated levels of androgens, interfere with normal ovulation. This disruption can lead to missed periods or irregular menstrual cycles.
4. Stress and Emotional Factors: Stress, whether psychological or physical, can impact the delicate hormonal balance in the body and disrupt the menstrual cycle.
During periods of stress, the body releases cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Elevated cortisol levels can interfere with the production of reproductive hormones, leading to missed or delayed periods.
5. Extreme Weight Changes: Significant changes in body weight, whether weight loss or weight gain, can disrupt the hormonal balance and affect menstrual regularity.
Body fat plays a crucial role in hormone production. Excessive weight loss or extremely low body fat percentage can lead to hormonal imbalances, including decreased levels of estrogen, which can result in missed periods. Conversely, excessive weight gain or obesity can also disrupt hormone levels and menstrual regularity.
A missed period can be a source of worry for women, but it is essential to consider various factors beyond pregnancy. Hormonal imbalances, including those caused by conditions such as PCOS, stress, extreme weight changes, and other underlying health issues, can all contribute to missed periods. By understanding these causes, women can seek appropriate medical advice and take necessary steps to address any underlying concerns. It is important to remember that every woman's menstrual cycle is unique, and occasional irregularities can occur. However, if the pattern of missed periods persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation.
Jayti Shah is a Clinical Nutritionist with a master's degree in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association (IDA). Over the last 9 years, she has helped 400 clients in their clinical and weight loss journeys. She works with SocialBoat as a nutrition consultant.
At SocialBoat, we offer custom diet plans and guided workouts to help you achieve your goals in a 360-degree approach. Our gamified experience ensures that you don’t find workouts boring and we reward you for being consistent with your efforts.
- Wilcox AJ, Weinberg CR, Baird DD. Timing of sexual intercourse in relation to ovulation. Effects on the probability of conception, survival of the pregnancy, and sex of the baby. N Engl J Med. 1995 Dec 7;333(23):1517-21. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199512073332301.
- World Health Organization (WHO). Menstrual cycle length characteristics and risk of ovarian cancer and certain other cancers. In: IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Volume 100A. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2012.
- Speroff L, Fritz MA. Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility. 8th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011.
- Morley LC, Tang T, Yasmin E, et al. Insulin sensitivity, secretion, and elimination in postmenopausal women receiving oral or transdermal hormone replacement therapy. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Jul;97(7):2660-7. doi: 10.1210/jc.2011-3133.
- Thong EP, Codner E, Laven JS, et al. Anti-Müllerian hormone in PCOS: a review informing international guidelines. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Dec;27(12):795-806. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2016.06.003.
- Gibson-Helm M, Teede H, Dunaif A, et al. Delayed diagnosis and a lack of information associated with dissatisfaction in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017 Mar 1;102(3):604-612. doi: 10.1210/jc.2016-2963.