Women prepare for their monthly period like a well-practised routine: extra clothes in the work bag? Check. Extra sanitary napkin/ menstrual cup in the bag? Check. Comfortable clothing? Check. Comfort food? Check. Pain medication? Check.
However, what happens when the checklist is ready but the period doesn’t come? It is natural for the mind to wander to the possibility of pregnancy straight away, but there are other reasons for a delay in the period. Apart from missing a period, there are other ways in which a period can be irregular- heavier or lighter flow than usual; more pain than usual; longer or shorter period cycles.
The alternative explanations for irregular periods are listed below:
Stress is one of the leading reasons for late period. How does this happen? When you’re stressed, the brain sends a signal to the hypothalamus, which regulates your hormones. On the brain’s instruction, the hypothalamus reduces the production of Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) which is responsible for initiating the menstruation process. So, if you have been experiencing increased stress in your personal or professional life, it is a good idea to work on managing your stressors or maybe consult a mental health professional.
Depending on whether your thyroid is secreting more hormone or less, your period will be affected. If you have hyperthyroidism, you may have lighter or fewer periods. In case of hypothyroidism, you may have a heavier period. Get your thyroid functioning test in order to eliminate this possibility for a delayed period.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
About 10% of all women in the childbearing age-group suffer from PCOS. It interferes with a woman’s menstrual cycle by causing hormonal imbalances. It prevents ovulation and consequentially, her period.
Birth control medication
One of the other irregular periods reasons is the hormones in birth control pills. Since the birth control pills comprise of the hormones estrogen and progestin, which prevent the ovaries from releasing the eggs, some women whose bodies have difficulty adjusting to such changes in the hormonal levels, may experience delayed or miss their period. Contraceptives are an important and effective way of preventing unplanned pregnancy; hence, you should consult your trusted gynaecologist to find a contraceptive best suited for you.
If you have gained or lost a lot of weight in a relatively short period of time, you may experience an irregular period. With rapid weight loss, the consequence is either a lighter or a missed period. People with eating disorders such as Bulimia or Anorexia Nervosa may experience such changes in their period. With weight gain, you may experience heavier bleeding one month and a missed period the next.
Conditions and illnesses such as diabetes or flu can affect the blood sugar and hormone levels. This may affect your period.
Certain medication like anti-depressants, antibiotics may mess with your period cycle. It is best to ask your doctor about the possible side-effects of any medication that you take and if you can counter those side-effects in any way.
For some women, menopause can come before the age of 40. Check for this possibility with your doctor.
There are many causes of irregular periods, so make sure you consult with your trusted primary care physician or ob-gyn before rushing into any conclusion as to the cause of your delayed or irregular period.