There’s absolutely nothing worse than the anxiety that goes with missing your period. Whether you track your menstrual cycles, or whether you intuitively know that this is the time your period is supposed to come … what do you do?
First, take a home pregnancy test to rule out pregnancy! You will need to backtrack and figure out when you’ve had sex in the last month – was it around the time you ovulated? If you’ve had unprotected sex in the last few weeks, you’ll want to take two home pregnancy tests (different brands) just to be sure. Some home pregnancy tests are more sensitive than others at detecting pregnancy early. And if you’re still feeling weird about it, go to your doctor and get a blood pregnancy test.
So you have taken a home pregnancy test, and you are definitely NOT pregnant. What’s next? Why Did You Miss Your Period?
First, don’t freak out. Many girls skip their periods for a variety of reasons.
Here are some common reasons to cause you to have a missed period when you’re not preggers:
Stress – This is a huge! If you’ve had a tremendous amount of stress in your life – final exams, crazy project at work, new job, trouble in the home front, etc. – this can cause you to miss a period. Excessive stress can throw your hormonal levels out of whack, causing you to have delayed periods, late periods, or a skipped period.
When you’re stressed out, the stress hormones prevent your body from producing the right balance of menstrual cycle hormones (like estrogen and progesterone). This can mess up your cycle causing it to be irregular.
The good news is that once your stress levels decrease and go back to normal, your cycle should get back to the way they were. This might take a few weeks, or it could make you miss your cycle for that month.
Word to the wise – try to relax. Make time for yourself. Even if it’s only 30 minutes every day, find a way to stay calm and relax. (Word to the wise – Bubble baths, yoga, and reading a book at night work wonders!)
Excessive Weight Fluctuations: If you’ve lost more than 10% of your ideal body weight, or you’ve gained too much weight in the last month, this can cause your body to act out of whack. Excessive weight gain can cause your body to store too much estrogen in your fatty tissues, which may have a negative effect on your regular menstrual cycle. It can decrease ovulation and cause you to have a missed period.
Weight fluctuations can often make your period off-kilter. You may have no period, or a lighter period than usual. You may also have a delayed period, too.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): If you have PCOS, it may be to blame for your missed period or late period. Most women with polycystic ovary syndrome have small cysts that grow on their ovaries, which make your female hormones are imbalanced (you produce more male sex hormones than you should), and this can cause you to have irregular periods, as well as other health issues. With PCOS, many women get their periods fewer than nine times in a year.
Jet Lag: If you’ve taken any overseas trips, or been on an airplane for over eight hours to get to your destination, you’ll definitely feel the effects of jetlag. Your circadian rhythms affect your sleep-wake cycle, cause you to feel disoriented and have fatigue, and they can mess with your hormones, which can cause you to have a delay in your menstrual cycle. Your period may start later than they normally do. Jetlag symptoms are worse (so your menstrual cycle is more likely to be off) when you’re traveling west to east.
Worried about Your Missed Period? Contact your doctor or healthcare provider and make an appointment. Although having one missed period isn’t a cause for concern, if you miss multiple periods, or you have a history of missed periods, talk to your healthcare provider or gynecologist. They can check your hormone levels to ensure that you’re still 100% healthy, and that there isn’t a more serious underlying issue causing you to have irregular periods.
Prevention is key. If you’re worried or anxious about it, contact your doctor!