Missing a period is not as unusual as you may think and slight changes in your life can upset your cycle. In most cases, if you have missed a period and you are sexually active, you should immediately have a pregnancy test. However if the results are negative and you are still concerned about the absent menses, there may be other points to consider.
The menstrual cycle is not a random play of hormones – ovulation and menstruation are two carefully orchestrated processes in the body. They are a result of a complex cycle of hormones and an upset anywhere along the process can disrupt your monthly periods. Some of the contributing factors may not be serious and just temporary upsets. Others can be a result of serious conditions that need immediate medical attention.
If you have missed your period for a month, it is not usually a cause for concern. However if many months are going by, you need to consult with a gynaecologist. You may be suffering with amenorrhoea – the medical term for absent menses for a certain period of time. There are two types of amenorrhoea – primary and secondary.
Primary amenorrhoea occurs in young girls who have never had a period although they have reached the age of 16 years or they have been showing the signs of puberty for 2 years or more with no periods. Secondary amenorrhoea occurs in girls or women who have previously had their periods but it has now stopped for 3 cycles or up to 6 months. Both cases require immediate medical attention and home remedies and traditional measures may not suffice.
Causes of No Period
The most common cause for a missed period is pregnancy. Other common causes include the incorrect use of hormonal contraceptives like the oral contraceptive pill, stress, depression and severe infections, like the flu or even gastric flu. Another growing cause of a missed period is the use of the ‘morning after’ pill. These emergency contraceptives may upset the menstrual cycle for one or two months after use and often used excessively by young girls practicing unsafe sex. A medical abortion or use of the abortion pill may have the same effect on the menstrual cycle and result in a missed period.
Other possible causes of one or two missed periods includes :
- Certain drugs
- Use of narcotics like crystal meth (tik)
- Alcohol abuse
- Emotional shock or mental stress
- Starvation diets
- Eating disorders like anorexia
- Peri-menopause (stage prior to menopause)
In most of these cases, correcting the causative factor will cause the periods to return, although a regular menstrual cycle may take some time to restore. However if you have not had a period for more than 6 months, then you are suffering with amenorrhoea and you will need specialist medical attention to identify and treat the cause.
Many young girls and women suffer with irregular menses, a condition known as oligomenorrhoea. This should be attended to by a doctor but it is not a life threatening condition. Some cases of a missed period that can be dangerous include an ectopic pregnancy, where the mother did not know she was pregnant or vaginal and uterine infections. If you have missed a period and you are experiencing severe pain and/or abnormal vaginal discharge, then you need to see your doctor immediately.