Many times, when our menses are late, we tend to immediately think the worse—that we're pregnant.
But the absence of menstruation can indicate other types of conditions that may be telling you that your body isn't functioning like usual. Here are some possible reasons for irregular or absent periods in women.
You may be training too hard
Exercising too intensely can affect the levels of hormones that control menstruation, and losing too much body fat can stop your body from ovulating.
This happens to many professional sportswomen, who in this case are advised by doctors and physicians on how they can maintain performance without the intensity of exercise impacting their periods.
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Malnutrition can cause missed periods
The body reacts in the same way if its diet is unbalanced. Sometimes people adopt a restrictive diet while undertaking a rigorous exercise programme to detoxify and lose body fat. The reproductive system responds immediately to this double attack.
The same is true for eating disorders. When a woman eats too little or follows a very restrictive diet. Diet restriction can lead to other health complications: osteoporosis, general fatigue, brittle nails and hair, skin problems and impaired cognitive function.
Too much or prolonged stress
Prolonged or excessive stress can alter the function of the hypothalamus. This area of the brain controls the pituitary gland, which releases oestrogen and progesterone.
The release of hormones allows the female ovaries to produce an egg, which is essential for the menstrual cycle. If the process stops, there is no egg and no chance of pregnancy.
Stopping the pill
Low levels of oestrogen can stop menstruation, as can high levels of the hormone. The contraceptive pill increases hormone levels in the blood, which causes the pituitary gland to stop ovulation. And when the pill is stopped, it can take several months for the body to respond to the change in hormone levels and menstruation to resume.
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The thyroid is the gland responsible for regulating many of the body's metabolic functions: heart rate, breathing, reproductive cycle. Therefore, if you have any doubts about the health of this gland, have your thyroid function checked.
An overactive thyroid produces high levels of thyroid hormone, which can lead to irregular or absent periods. Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include anxiety, hyperactivity, sensitivity to high temperatures, tremors and hair loss.
The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves' disease. If left untreated, it causes exophthalmos (bulging eyes), blurred vision, palpitations and weight loss.
The average age of menopause is about 51 years. Before the age of 40, it is called early menopause. When menopause begins, egg production is depleted and menstruation stops.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (or Stein-Leventhal syndrome) is thought to be caused by insulin resistance. The body produces more testosterone, which hinders egg production and leads to irregular or absent menstruation.
PCOS is also accompanied by increased hair growth and weight gain around the stomach. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome are at risk of having their menstruation stopped.