If you have missed a period and are within child bearing years, chances are you just might be pregnant. However, there are other factors which could actually be the cause of missing a regular monthly cycle as well. Whether you are looking to get pregnant, or would rather not be, don’t automatically assume you are pregnant just because you missed a period. Consider the following information before jumping to any conclusions.
Years ago women needed to be far enough along in order to get accurate results as to whether or not she was pregnant. Today, there are early pregnancy tests which are quite inexpensive and sold OTC in most, if not all, pharmacies. These products test for specific hormones that are present in increasing amounts once conception has taken place. Some of them are accurate within a matter of days after you miss your first period. If it tests positive then you have your answer. Should the result be negative, you have two choices. Either wait a few days and test again or go to a doctor for a more thorough exam and diagnostic evaluation.
Common Causes for Missed Periods
If your periods are regular and you suddenly miss one, you could be pregnant, but you might also be suffering from some other condition which is interfering with your monthly cycle. Common causes for missed periods include:
- Emotional stress
- Hormone imbalances
- Excessive weight gain/loss
- Eating disorders
- Excessive exercise
- Pelvic disease
- Travel/change in routine
Of course, the first thing you should do if you have missed a period and are not pregnant should be to consult with your doctor to determine the cause. This is especially true if you have always had regular cycles. He or she will probably look at one or more of the above common concerns in order to determine why you missed a period.
Emotional stress wreaks havoc on your body in more ways than you can ever begin to imagine. However, the one thing that you can be certain of is that extreme emotional distress significantly impacts hormones which regulate a number of biological functions, including menstruation.
Hormones play a vital role in menstruation and an imbalance could be caused by any one of the issues listed above. However, the only way to substantiate whether or not you have problems with hormones would be through proper diagnostic procedures performed by a medical professional.
Excessive Weight Loss/Gain
Most often excessive weight loss is the cause of weight related missed periods, but obesity can also play a role as well. Perhaps sudden changes in body weight is directly related in some way to the production of hormones in the body, but keep in mind that sudden changes in body weight can trigger a considerable number of health related issues as well which could impact your menstrual cycle.
Many illnesses are so debilitating that they cause a chain reaction of events in the body. Often the body utilizes so many resources to fight the illness that there is insufficient ‘energy’ to sustain other biological functions. This is most often the case in serious illnesses, but even a sever influenza can affect your menstrual cycle.
Let’s face it – eating disorders just throw your whole body out of whack from head to toe. Whether you are suffering from anorexia or bulimia, your body just isn’t getting the nutrients it needs to keep biological processes healthy. This includes the production of hormones, of course.
Some medications also interfere with monthly periods, but most often the culprits are birth control pills. Many women bleed lighter or for shorter periods of time while others miss periods altogether. Even so, don’t assume that you can’t be pregnant because you are on birth control. This is a good time to ask, “My period is late. Am I pregnant?” Keep in mind that even 1% to 2% of women who get pregnant on birth control is a high enough margin to prompt concern.
Endurance athletes are often prone to irregular periods. Here again, this is all directly proportionate to hormones being produced (or not produced as the case may be) by the body. Perhaps you really are pregnant but perhaps your body is producing hormones that interfere with your regular cycle.
Certain pelvic diseases such as polycystic ovary syndrome or Asherman’s syndrome can interfere with menstruation. Only a doctor will be able to determine if some form of pelvic disease or condition has caused you to miss a period.
Travel/Change in Routine
Any change to your normal routine can upset biological functions. Sleep patterns and eating habits may be disrupted which sets off a number of events leading up to certain problems you may be experiencing. The human body is an amazing piece of machinery that is held together and operated by a sophisticated network of components. Once you disrupt any part of the whole, any number of functions can be impacted, among which is regular monthly periods.
Simply because your period is late doesn’t mean you are pregnant. Any number of things could be going on in your body. If a pregnancy test comes back negative after a couple of OTC tests, it’s time to talk to your doctor. “My period is late. Am I pregnant?” It could be that you are and there are not yet enough hormones (hCG, human chorionic gonadotropin) to register on an OTC pregnancy test. However, it could also be some underlying condition that is preventing you from menstruating. The best advice is always provided by your doctor.