Missing a period is not uncommon. But it can be the cause of much distress for young girls and women. While sexually active girls and young women may think of pregnancy as being a possible reason, older women may be concerned about the onset of menopause. However, there are a number of different reasons why a woman may miss a period and it has nothing to do with with pregnancy or menopause. Although it is always advisable to get the advice of a doctor, there may be some less common reasons that you should bear in mind.
Remember that you can only say that you have missed a period if you do not get it about a week after it was due. It could just be late and you may get it afterwards. But in many instances it may not come at all – for a month or two, or even longer. If you have missed 3 consecutive periods then it is known as secondary amenorrhea. If your periods never started then it is known as primary amenorrhea.
If you have had a severe bout of the flu recently, even an acute stomach bug or food poisoning, then you may notice that your period could be late. It is more likely to occur with severe illnesses that led to hospitalization or critical care. When your body is recovering from any severe illness, the normal menstrual cycle is upset. It may lead to a delayed period but you could even miss a period this month. It should however restore by the next cycle.
Alcohol and Drugs
Women who abuse alcohol and use illicit street drugs on a regular may also experience hormonal disturbances that leads to a missed period. It is unlikely to occur among occasional users. It is heavy drinkers and drugs addicts that may experience a late period. Even some pharmaceutical drugs can affect the menstrual cycle and lead to irregular or late periods. The following drugs are more likely to disturb menstruation:
- Hypertension medication
- Psychiatric medication
Gland that secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream are known as endocrine glands. A number of different endocrine diseases can affect menstruation even if it does not directly involve the main hormones that control the menstrual cycle. This includes disorders such as:
- Thyroid gland overactivity (hyperthyroidism) or underactivity (hypothyroidism).
- Pituitary gland dysfunction including tumors.
- Diabetes mellitus
- Cushing syndrome
The ovary plays an integral role in the menstrual cycle. It releases and egg cell into the fallopian tube and secretes the hormones estrogen and progesterone. If the egg cell is not fertilized (meaning pregnancy has not occurred), menstruation commences. Sometimes the ovary may become diseased in some way thereby leading to late periods. This is seen with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is more of a hormonal disorder but characterized by cysts in the ovary, and premature ovarian failure, where the ovary can no longer function as it normally would.
Menses or menstrual blood arises from the uterus. It is due to the sloughing off of the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium) that is then expelled as menses. If the uterus is diseased then a period can be delayed. This may be seen with infections of the uterus known as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which often involves the surrounding structures like the cervix and fallopian tubes. A late period due to problems with the uterus may also occur when there is extensive scarring of the uterus that can occur after surgery to the area.