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Missed Periods: Here’s What Could Be Triggering It

December 6, 2023

Every month, a woman’s ovaries release mature eggs and the uterus forms a thick lining. If the fertilized egg does not enter the uterus, the lining formed begins to shed and this process is what leads to periods. Usually, menstrual cycles can range from 28 days to 35 days, but it varies from woman to woman.

Sometimes, periods do not occur within the specified window and are either late or missed completely. This can cause a lot of worry as missed or late periods can be indicative of a lot of underlying issues, including pregnancy. In this blog, let’s look at some reasons that could trigger a missed or delayed period.

Book an online appointment with Dr. Girija Lakshmi for Pregnancy & Gynecology related issues.

One of the most common causes for a missed or delayed period is PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

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The pituitary gland in a woman’s body secretes several hormones and LH and FSH are two of them. Both these hormones play a role in ovulation and in general, their proportions are equal. However, just a day before a woman ovulates, the LH levels surge and drop back to normal after the ovulation is complete. When a woman has PCOS, the ratios of LH and FSH levels are reversed instead of being in a 1:2 proportion, both these hormones are at elevated levels and at around a 3:1 ratio with LH being higher.

Another hormone is an androgen, which is generally associated with men and is responsible for sperm production and the development of male sexual characteristics. Women’s bodies release androgen too, but they are converted to estrogen which is needed for the development of secondary sex characteristics in women, as well as the thickening of the lining of the uterus, which is then shed monthly resulting in periods. When a woman has elevated levels of estrogen, it could be indicative of PCOS, which could lead to irregular, missed, or delayed periods.

Skipped periods could also be a result of other hormones like prolactin and thyroid. If outside their normal range, these hormones can cause a significant impact on the regularity of a woman’s periods. Generally, a blood test is enough to identify this cause and this can be corrected with medication.

Other causes of a missed or delayed period could include the following:

  1. Stress: As much as the ill effects of stress are spoken about, it can also have a detrimental impact on a woman’s periods. Stress can cause several hormones to spike, leading to binge eating, and in general trigger other causes responsible for either missed or late periods, heavy or light periods as well as abdominal cramps. Engaging in exercise, yoga and even counseling is believed to be very helpful while dealing with stress.
  2. Weight loss: While being overweight can be bad for your reproductive health, drastic weight loss can have the same effect too. It’s a great thing to think about getting into good shape and staying healthy, but unexpected or rapid weight loss can throw a woman’s hormones out of gear, leading to missed or late periods. In such a scenario, the best way would be to take it slow and lose weight gradually instead of a lot at once.
  3. Anovulation: Like mentioned earlier, a woman’s ovaries release eggs every month. This is known as ovulation, often characterized by a rise in cervical mucus and accompanied by regular periods. When the ovaries do not release eggs, it results in a condition called anovulation or the absence of ovulation, which can cause missed or delayed periods.
  4. Hormonal Birth Control: Certain types of birth control methods will give your body shots of estrogen and progesterone. Then, there are set days when these hormones are not released. That’s when women get their periods. Sometimes, however, these methods can thin the lining of the uterus so much that there is nothing left for the uterus to shed. That’s one of the causes of missed or delayed periods.
  5. Pregnancy: This is one of the most obvious reasons for a missed period. If planned, this is one reason to celebrate and if it isn’t it can either bring joy or can be managed medically. When a woman is pregnant, the fertilized egg will implant itself into the uterus and the lining formed will not be shed to protect the embryo. Therefore, no periods through the gestation period.
  6. Missed or delayed periods can trigger a lot of stress. If you are experiencing this, it’s best to consult with a good gynecologist to see what the underlying issues are. Once the issue is diagnosed, treatment can help manage most causes.

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