When your menstrual cycle is off the schedule, the first thing that comes to mind is pregnancy. But late or missed periods happen for many reasons other than pregnancy. Common causes can range from stress, hormonal imbalances to medical conditions
There are two times in the life of a woman when it is normal for her period to be irregular: when it first came, and when she hits menopause. But with time, as your body gets through this transition, your normal cycle is bound to notice some irregularities.
A healthy menstrual cycle can range from every 21 to 35 days, though most women get their periods every 28 days. However, if you have one or two irregular periods, you should definitely pay attention to it, as you see an ob-gyn.
Your ob-gyn will tell you if it’s any of these factors are to be blamed for your late period problems.
Stress can disrupt your hormonal balance, create delayed, irregular or heavy periods. It can also change your daily routine, affecting your hypothalamus: a particular area of the brain responsible for regulating the hormone for your period.
Significant stress, such as divorce, death of a loved one can overtime lead to sudden weight gain or loss, sickness, and all of these can affect your cycle.
If you feel like stress might be the reason your period is off the chart, you could try practicing some relaxation techniques, also adding more exercise to your regimen. This may help you get back on track.
- Birth control
A light or non-existent period is one of the side effects of a low-estrogen birth control pill. You might notice some irregularities in your cycle when you are on or off birth control. You might even think taking birth control should regularize your period, but women who take extended-cycle birth control pills sometimes don’t get their periods on a 28 day cycle. This is because these pills most times delay the amount of time between periods. Birth control pills contain hormones estrogen and progestin, which prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs. Sometimes, it takes up to six months after taking the pills for your cycle to normalize again. Other types of hormonal birth control whether implanted (intrauterine devices) or injected (Depo-Provera) can also cause late and irregular periods.
But you should also know that no contraceptive is 100 percent effective, so if you for instance, don’t get your period three to four days after starting the inactive portion of the pill pack, you should take a pregnancy test.
When your period returns, pay attention to what it actually looks like. You may find an underlying problem that was masked by your birth control pills when you get off it. If that’s the case, make sure you visit your ob-gyn.
- Chronic diseases
Chronic diseases like diabetes and celiac disease can also cause your irregular menstrual cycle. Changes in blood sugar are linked to hormonal changes, so even though it’s a rarity, poorly controlled diabetes could cause your period to be irregular.
- `Early peri-menopause
For most women, menopause begins between ages 45 to 55. Women who develop symptoms between ages 38 to 44 0r even early are considered to have early peri-menopause. This implies that your egg supply is winding down, and resultant effect of will be missed periods and eventually the end of menstruation.
So instead of your regular 28 days between periods, your period may arrive 36 or 48 days apart. If you’re under 45 and your period stops completely, it’s possible you’re going through early menopause or experiencing premature ovarian failure.
- Thyroid dysfunction
The thyroid gland is located in your neck. It regulates your body’s metabolism; it also interacts with many other systems in your body to keep things running smoothly. So, if you are dealing with thyroid related imbalance, be it overactive or underactive thyroid gland , it could be the cause of your late or missed periods. This is because any thyroid dysfunction can affect hormone levels as well. Thyroid issues can usually be treated with medication. After treatment, your period will likely return to normal.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
During a typical menstrual cycle, each ovary develops roughly five follicles, and those follicles compete to become the dominant one that will release a mature egg at ovulation. Women with PCOS often have additional follicles, which makes this process take longer than usual. No released egg means no period.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes your body to produce more of the male hormone androgen. Cysts form on the ovaries as a result of this hormone imbalance. This can make ovulation irregular or stop it altogether.
Other hormones, such as insulin, can also get out of balance. This is due to insulin resistance, which is associated with PCOS. Treatment for PCOS focuses on relieving symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe birth control or other medication to help regulate your cycle.
- Low weight
Women with eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, may experience period irregularities. Sudden weight changes and being underweight can offset your hormone level. Weighing below what’s considered a normal range for your weight can affect the way your body functions and affects your ovulation. Getting treatment for your eating disorder and putting on weight in a healthy way can return your cycle to normal. Participating in extreme exercises for women can result in an alteration of their menstrual cycle.
Overweight is another factor that can cause hormonal changes. That’s why you should meet your doctor to map out an exercise plan, and also place you on a diet. That if the reason behind your missed or late period
- Pituitary tumor
Though it’s rare and highly unlikely, Prolactinoma, a type of pituitary tumor that secretes excess amounts of prolactin, the hormone that signals breast milk production, sometimes is to blame for a late period. Women suffering from blurry vision, headache and discharge from the breasts even when they are not breastfeeding, and of course, irregularity of the menstrual cycle should make sure they get checked by their ob-gyn for this type of tumor.