Why Do I Keep Missing My Period? 6 Unexpected Factors That Might Be To Blame
Realizing that you've skipped a period is both scary and messy. On the one hand, you’re terrified that you might be pregnant, and on the other, if you're not preggers, then it could be a red flag that something’s going on physically or mentally to make your reproductive organs go rogue. So if your period’s gone MIA, and you’re 100 percent not with child, you may be asking yourself, “Why do I keep missing my period?” It’s a valid question, and I wish I could tell you there’s an obvious answer, but missing a period can be your body’s reaction to any number of things.
Before we really get into this, I’m going to throw in a little disclaimer here: If you're freaked out about missing one or multiple periods, please don’t self-diagnose your symptoms solely based on what your internet searches tell you. It’s definitely important to do your own research and educate yourself on the possibilities of why your menstrual cycle is out of whack, but it’s in your best interest to make an appointment with your gynecologist to figure out what’s actually going on down there.
In order to avoid an internal freakout, browse through the following reasons that could explain why you've missed a period or two recently.
1. You May Be Suffering From A Ridiculous Amount Of Stress
Stress is never your friend. It messes with you emotionally, physically, and it can definitely get in the way of menstruation.
Dr. Carrie Griffin, family medicine physician in New Mexico and fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, tells Elite Daily that when something interferes with your hypothalamus — a gland in the brain that keeps your hormones in check — your stress levels can fluctuate, leading to irregular or, in some cases, even nonexistent periods.
Any number of changes can interfere with the hypothalamus doing its job, [such as] sudden weight loss or weight gain, excessive exercise, a change in sleeping habits, emotional strains.
Dr. Griffin adds that women who find themselves under severe stress — whether it stems from everyday struggles like overwhelming amounts of responsibility or serious mental ailments like eating disorders — can "stop having regular periods because of the stress placed on the hypothalamus."
2. Medication Could Be To Blame
Any time you expose your body to medication, whether it's over-the-counter or prescription, there's a risk that whatever it is you're taking may not mesh well with your insides. Dr. Griffin tells Elite Daily that things like anti-psychotic medications and mood disorder meds can definitely take a toll, but arguably, the most common culprit behind why your body skips out on its cycle is hormonal contraception.
Birth control pills, IUDs, and/or Depo-Provera shots often alter a woman's regular menstrual cycle. However, according to Dr. Griffin, going off these methods can also lead to missed periods. It all depends on how your body responds to the medication.
Rest assured, however, that missing a period when you start or stop using these types of contraception could just be a harmless sign of how your body is adjusting to the change.
3. It Could Be A Thyroid Issue
I didn't even know what a thyroid was until someone in my family was diagnosed with Graves' disease, so if you're also lost here, allow me to explain.
Your thyroid is an essential gland located under the Adam's apple that produces hormones and maintains your body's metabolism. Because your hormones function with a kind of domino effect, when one hormonal system is offset, the others follow suit. So when thyroid irregularities occur, they can suppress your menstrual cycles.
But regardless of the type of thyroid problem a woman experiences, Dr. Griffin says that "once the thyroid levels are corrected, women return to having regular periods."
4. You May Be Suffering From PCOS
If you've regularly been skipping periods, and have also noticed an increase in hair growth or sudden clusters of acne, Dr. Dawn Bingham, an OB/GYN in South Carolina and fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, tells Elite Daily there's a chance you could have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS is the most common reproductive disorder responsible for multiple missed periods, which can lead to infertility issues. PCOS.com reports that missed periods as a symptom for the disease can be corrected by addressing your insulin resistance, birth control, and fertility treatments.
5. It Could Be Sign Of A Tumor Or Cancer
Dr. Bailey Cannon, an OB/GYN in Maryland and fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, tells Elite Daily that certain tumors in the brain and kidneys can cause irregular or absent periods, and treatments "will vary significantly depending on the case."
It's definitely nerve-wracking to see missed periods as a potential sign of cancer, but this is why I beg you to please, please consult your own doctor before concluding that because you missed your period, you automatically have cancer. Take a deep breath, in and out, because the odds are most likely in your favor.
6. Traveling Can Make You Miss A Period, Too
Traveling internationally soon? If so, packing extra tampons might be unnecessary.
When you travel internationally, your entire circadian rhythm (aka your body's internal clock that keeps tabs on hormone production) is thrown off. This means that things like changes in time zone and exposure to light at different hours of the day can mess with your cycle more than you might think.
Dr. Kristyn Brandi, an obstetrician and gynecologist with Boston Medical Center who teaches at Boston University School of Medicine, told Huffington Post that when your circadian rhythm is altered, your body "perceives that as a stressor."
Generally speaking, it's no big deal if you miss a period, but skipping two or more could be an indicator that something's up down there.