Period delay is uncommon in healthy women and is usually a sign of either pregnancy or an underlying health condition. The menstrual cycle lasts on average for 28 days and prepares the womb for carrying a baby. The ovaries release an egg every month and bleeding occurs if it is not fertilized by a sperm.
Periods are inconvenient and arrive during important life events making women feel ghastly and uncomfortable. Many women take period delay tablets before weddings, holidays and expeditions to prevent the inconvenience of a period ruining their special occasion.
Ironically naturally missing a period causes anxiety and panic because it may be due to an unexpected pregnancy. Finding you are not pregnant brings up a host of questions regarding the cause of the absent period. There are a number of reasons why this occurs and if it continues a visit to the doctor is necessary.
The most obvious reason healthy women miss a period is due to pregnancy this is because the fertilized implants into the womb lining preventing menstruation. Over the counter pregnancy tests confirm if this is the cause of the period delay. Unexplainable period delay requires medical diagnosis because it may be a sign of an underlying health condition.
The menopause is very confusing as periods become erratic before they stop completely. Many women accidentally fall pregnant during this time because they believe they are no longer fertile. The menopause occurs in women in their early fifties and involves missing periods for a number of months. A blood test confirms if this is the case. Most women are aware they are nearing the menopause due to the unpleasant symptoms they experience.
Symptoms of the menopause include; irregular periods, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, chills, night sweats, difficulty sleeping and weight gain. This occurs as hormone levels change and the body prepares itself for no longer being able to conceive children. (Source: Mayo Clinic). Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) helps women delay menopause symptoms until they are older. A consultation with your doctor confirms suitability for HRT.
Stress alters your menstrual cycle either shortening it, lengthening it or making periods more painful. Some women miss a period due to immense stress. The most effective treatment is to avoid stressful situations, exercise more, sleep well and eat healthily. Advice from your doctor regarding coping strategies is very beneficial too. (Source: Medical News Today)
Extreme weight loss
Women suffering from eating disorders or who lose a significant amount of weight in a short time experience period delay. This is due to fluctuations in hormone levels, malnutrition, and low fat levels. It is important to seek medical advice because being very underweight for a long time causes damage to the body. Losing a lot of weight unexpectedly suggests you may have an underlying health condition so it is important to make an appointment with your doctor. (Source: Medical News Today)
Obesity also disrupts hormone levels and causes period delay. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) causes extreme weight gain and a host of other symptoms. Women with PCOS suffer from the following symptoms; hirsutism, irregular periods, hair loss, difficulty getting pregnant and acne. (Source: Medical News Today)
Hormone contraception such as the Mirena coil, contraceptive jab and taking the pill without a break delay periods. They work by maintaining hormone levels so the ovaries don’t release an egg and prompt bleeding. Antibiotics make this type of contraception ineffective so missing a period after an illness may be due to pregnancy. (Source: Medical News Today)
Deliberate period delay requires the drug Norethisterone which maintains progesterone levels so the womb lining doesn’t shed. It is a short-term solution and doesn’t affect fertility. This treatment is not a contraceptive and will not protect you from pregnancy.
By Parv Sagoo (Jan 2018)