A “period” is the common name for “menstruation” which, by the way, is also often referred to as “that time of the month,” “the curse” or “the rag.” A period is part of the entire menstrual cycle which, on the average, is 28 days long (counted from the first day of bleeding of a particular month to the first day of bleeding of the following month) and usually lasts for three to five days. Of course, some women’s periods appear every 30 or 35 or even 40 days and they can last for a single day of for seven to ten days. Furthermore, some women’s periods are completely erratic and never appear regularly nor is their length a constant.
Whichever way a woman prefers to address her period and whatever is her normal cycle, if it fails to come on time or if it misses completely, the circumstance will meet with, either, elation and joy or with trepidation and terror. Those women who want to be pregnant will be happy to have experienced a missed period while those women who do not want to be pregnant will go through bouts of anxiety and apprehension. Missed periods are, therefore, the universal bearers of good or bad news regarding pregnancy and the first thing that women quite reasonably think of.
Reasons for Missed Periods
In spite of it all, pregnancy is not the only condition that leads to missed periods. There are many other physiological and psychological reasons but let us discuss the ten most frequently occurring:
1. Disease. Many acute and serious diseases and even mild ones can cause a disturbance in a woman’s menstrual cycles which can ultimately lead to temporarily delayed or missed periods.
2. Stress. Stress begins as a psychological and emotional condition but it often affects many physiological functions of the body, including a woman’s menstrual cycles and her periods. Severe and prolonged stress can decrease the production of a woman’s reproductive hormones which then prevents her ovaries from producing the eggs, ovulation thus ceases and so her period fails to appear. To return to her normal menstrual cycle, the woman must learn relaxation techniques and more effective ways to cope with the stress in her life.
3. Drugs. Whether they are prescribed, over-the-counter or recreational and illegal; certain drugs can disrupt a woman’s menstrual cycle and cause her to miss her periods. These are common side effects of many drugs, particularly among a number of birth control medications, which should be discussed with a healthcare provider.
4. Change in Schedule. Drastic changes in schedule such as when first starting to work a nightshift or traveling to different time zones throws off the body’s natural clock and can affect, among other things, a woman’s menstrual cycle and her periods.
5. Obesity. Morbid obesity or severe overweight can lead to hormonal changes and delayed or missed periods. To reinstate the menstrual cycle to its normal pattern usually requires at least some weight loss.
6. Underweight. A woman who is severely underweight and lacking enough body fat will lose her menstrual cycles and her periods will discontinue. This conditions is called amenorrhea and it is frequently witnessed among professional athletes and those who workout too much, but it can usually be restored with a significant weight gain.
7. Faulty Calculation. Often, particularly in women whose menstrual cycles are irregular, missed periods are simply miscalculations.
8. Peri-menopause. Peri-menopause is the time when a woman’s body is slowly transitioning into the infertile stage of her life. This is a time when her menstrual cycles become erratic and very unpredictable as will her periods.
9. Menopause and Post-menopause. This is the woman’s part of life when she is no longer fertile because her ovulation had permanently stopped as did her monthly periods.
10. Pregnancy. Last but certainly not least, pregnancy!