A Missed Period: What Does It Mean?

Missing a period can be a stressful experience. The first assumption many women make is that they’re pregnant. But even if you know that’s not a possibility for you, not knowing why your cycle isn’t consistent can send your mind racing. While there are quite a few factors that can cause this event to occur, the most important thing to remember is that all women are different. As a result, what’s normal for someone else may not apply to you. That’s why it’s important to get to know your body and its chemistry.

Common Causes of Missed Periods

For younger girls who are just in the first few years of menstruating, it’s fairly normal for periods to be irregular. The reason is that the hormones which are responsible for menstruation may require several years before they’re balanced enough to keep this cycle consistent.

The same issue is true for mature women who are getting close to the point in their lives of experiencing perimenopause, which is then followed by menopause. Although this is something you can talk to your doctor about, if you’re anywhere between 40 and 61 (the average age for menopause is 51), there’s a strong chance this is the cause of your missed period. Keep in mind that menopause is officially defined as starting after you haven’t experienced any periods for a full 12 months.

For women who aren’t at either end of that age spectrum, pregnancy is the most common reason for a missed period. Even if you aren’t sure that you’re pregnant, the best thing you can do once you have any reason to believe you may be is to treat yourself accordingly. That means avoiding substances like alcohol and tobacco.

Once you think you may be pregnant, you can take the first step towards knowing by taking a home pregnancy test. If it comes back positive or you have reason to believe that its negative reading is incorrect, you’ll want to schedule a doctor’s appointment.

Other Reasons You May Miss a Period

Even though many missed periods fall into the handful of categories listed above, as previously mentioned, there are plenty of triggers that can cause a period to be skipped. Travel, illness and emotional stress are all capable of causing this event. Significant increases in exercise, as well as gaining or losing a lot of weight can also make it happen. The same is true for eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia.

Drug use, hormone problems or birth control may also be responsible for missing one or more periods. It’s also normal for women to have irregular menstruation during the course of breastfeeding.

It’s important to note that conditions like Asherman’s syndrome, liver disease, diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome can be the cause of chronic period irregularity. If you’re experiencing that type of issue, you’ll want to meet with a doctor so that you’ll be able to get a better understanding of what’s going on with your body.