Dr Maxwell Adeyemi
Worried about a late period, but know you’re not pregnant? Missed or late periods happen for many reasons other than pregnancy.
While pregnancy is often the most obvious cause of a missed or late period, there are other medical and lifestyle factors that can affect your menstrual cycle and cause your period to be late. Common causes can range from hormonal imbalances to serious medical conditions. There are also two times when it’s typical for your period to be irregular: when it first starts and when you begin the transition to menopause. As your body goes through the transition, your cycle may become irregular.
Most people who haven’t gone through menopause usually have a period about every 28 days. However, a healthy menstrual cycle can range from every 21 to 40 days. If your period is not within these ranges, it could be for one of the following reasons.
Chronic stress can disrupt your hormones, change your daily routine, and even affect the part of your brain responsible for regulating your period, your hypothalamus. Intense stress disrupts the production of gonadotropin-releasing hormone, a hormone that regulates ovulation and the menstrual cycle.
Over time, stress can lead to illness or sudden weight gain or loss, all of which can affect your cycle. If you think stress might be messing with your period, try practicing relaxation techniques and making lifestyle changes.
Chronic stress can also affect other health conditions you’re living with, so addressing it with the help of a medical professional is an important part of caring for your overall well-being.
low body weight
People who have eating disorders may experience irregularities in their cycle. Losing too much weight can cause irregular periods and can even stop your cycle altogether. This is because not having enough body fat can stop ovulation.
Being underweight or losing weight quickly can interfere with the production and release of hormones that can cause your period to stop.
Getting treatment for your eating disorder and getting to the point where your body fat is optimal again can bring your cycle back to its original length.
In the same way that living with a low body weight can cause hormonal changes, living with a high body weight can also cause irregularities. Obesity influences the regulation of estrogen and progesterone and can cause changes in the period or even infertility. Obesity can cause the body to produce an overabundance of estrogen, which is a key reproductive hormone. Too much estrogen can cause irregularities in your cycle and can even stop your periods altogether.
If obesity is a factor in late or missed periods, it may be advisable to lose weight through lifestyle changes.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes your body to make more androgens, the male hormone. Cysts form in the ovaries as a result of this hormonal imbalance. This can make ovulation irregular or stop it altogether.
Other hormones, like insulin, can also become unbalanced. This is due to insulin resistance, which is often associated with PCOS.
You may experience a change in your cycle when you turn birth control on or off. Birth control pills contain the hormones estrogen and progestin, which prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. It can take up to three months for your cycle to become consistent again after you stop taking the pill.
Other types of birth control that are implanted or injected can also cause missed periods.
Chronic diseases, such as diabetes and celiac disease, can also affect your menstrual cycle. Changes in blood sugar level are related to hormonal changes, so although rare, uncontrolled diabetes can cause your period to be irregular.
Celiac disease causes inflammation that can lead to damage in the small intestine, which can prevent the body from absorbing key nutrients. This can cause irregular or missed periods.
Chronic diseases such as thyroid disease, polycystic ovary disease, pituitary tumors, adrenal gland diseases, ovarian cysts, and liver dysfunction can affect menstrual cycles.
Acute illnesses such as pneumonia, heart attack, kidney failure, or meningitis can also lead to rapid weight loss, nutritional deficiency, or hormonal dysfunction that can lead to menstrual disorders.
Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI)
Most women begin menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. Those who develop symptoms in their 40s or earlier may be experiencing premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) or early natural menopause.
If you have menstrual problems and are age 40 or younger, contact your doctor to discuss POI testing and treatment.
An overactive or underactive thyroid gland could also be the cause of late or missed menstrual periods.
The thyroid regulates your body’s metabolism, so hormone levels can also be affected. Thyroid problems can usually be treated with medication. After treatment, your period will likely return to its normal cycle.
Change of schedules.
Changes in schedules can throw your biological clock out of balance. If you frequently change work shifts from day to night or if your schedules are usually all over the place and don’t follow a regular pattern, your period can be negatively affected and quite unpredictable.
Certain medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, thyroid medications, and some chemotherapy drugs can cause your period to stop, be late, or miss.
The onset of menopause or perimenopausal symptoms may also be associated with menstrual cessation. Due to fluctuations in hormone levels, menstrual cycles can become unpredictable until they stop.
Women who are nursing or breastfeeding may experience menstrual interruptions or delays. Through breastfeeding you can reduce the risk of getting pregnant, it is not a reliable or established method of contraception, since you can get pregnant during pregnancy.
If you have problems with your menstrual cycle, it is advisable to consult with your doctor so that he can investigate it and diagnose the probable cause for proper management.
Please contact Dr. Maxwell at 363-1807 or 757-5411.