😫 Has your period gone MIA?
I once had a client who told me a nurse had said to her that as long as she was having at least three periods a year, she needn’t worry and that she should just come back when she was ready to have a baby for further testing.
I was honestly so shocked.
Regardless of whether you want kids or not, a REGULAR period is a reflection of your overall health and some agree it should be thought of as a ‘fifth vital sign’ along with blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate and body temperature.
Your missing period is trying to tell you something.
When we talk about missing periods, we actually mean missing ovulation. You can’t have a period unless you’ve ovulated in the weeks prior so the question we need to be finding out the answer to is ‘why am I not ovulating?’.
If your period is missing (and you suspect ovulation isn’t happening either), this may mean something deeper could be going on which you need to look at. 'Amenorrhoea' is the medical term used to describe the absence of periods for at least 3 months and there are MANY reasons as to why you might have lost your period.
Here are 10 common reasons why your period may be missing.
1) Have you recently come off of the pill?
What might surprise you is that women do not actually have REAL periods while on the pill. The bleed experienced whilst on the pill is actually a pharmaceutically-induced withdrawal bleed during the placebo week. So, if you had any period irregularities BEFORE going on the pill, there is a high chance the pill has been acting as a temporary solution as it doesn't fix the underlying issue.
If you need some support on coming off of the pill or have lost your period since stopping it (and it’s been longer than 3 months), get in touch to see if I can help.
2) Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
It is also common to have irregular/no period with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) as well as anovulatory cycles (where an egg isn’t released during a cycle). PCOS is also characterised by insulin resistance as well as an inability to lose weight, acne, fatigue and high levels of male hormones (such as testosterone) which can cause excessive hair growth in places women don’t typically grow hair such as the face or male pattern baldness/thinning hair. For more info on PCOS, check out my interview with Health Lib here.
3) Thyroid Issues
Have you had a thyroid issue ruled out? Thyroid dysfunction can be associated with light, heavy, or irregular periods as well as anovulatory cycles (lack of ovulation). If you suspect a thyroid issue is the cause of your missing period, it’s worth getting a FULL thyroid panel done (not just TSH) to check the full picture. Ideally, you want to get all the markers mentioned at the end of this article tested. You can do this via your GP or if you have problems getting a full panel, you can look at a private home-testing lab such as Medichecks.
4) Pregnancy – it might sound obvious but this should be the first step for a missing period in a woman who is sexually active. Pregnancy should always be ruled out first especially if you’re periods are usually quite regular.
5) Are you overdoing it at the gym or eating enough?
Both overtraining and under eating can also cause your periods to stop. Overtraining can be counterproductive to your hormones. and when your body doesn't get the necessary nutrients to make hormones, then hormone levels decrease which can cause your period to become irregular or even stop altogether. Having a BMI of under 18.5 can also impact your period.
6) Are you under any significant stress?
I also see a lot of clients who are under an enormous amount of stress with missing periods. Think about it. If your body is under a lot of stress, you will find yourself constantly in a state of fight-or-flight. The last thing your body cares about in this heightened mode is reproducing so it's actually your body's way of protecting you.
Bear in mind the stress you experience now may affect ovulation for up to 3 months. This is how long it takes for an egg to full mature before ovulation so the short bout of high stress you dealt with at work a few weeks ago could ultimately affect your next few periods.
7) Gluten sensitivity
Undiagnosed coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity may show up as amenorrhoea in some women as it can affect hormone levels as well as nutrient status which can both have an impact on reproductive health. This can be ruled out with a tTG and DGP antibody test mentioned at the end of this article.
8) Genetic Factors - particularly if you have had family members go through early menopause.
You can start the peri-menopause from as early as age 35, though for some women, their periods may stop completely before age 40 which is also known as premature ovarian failure. There be a genetic link with early menopause, particularly if any of your family members have gone through menopause before age 30. Menopause is typically defined as not having had a period for at least 12 months in a row.
Certain medications may impact your cycle including anti-depressants (including SSRI’s such as Sertraline) and even some antibiotics. Your Doctor should make you aware if your medication has an impact on your period.
10) Low Vitamin D
Getting enough vitamin D during the colder months can be really tricky and it’s estimated that vitamin D deficiency affects 1 in 6 adults here in the UK. This is not surprising given that our bodies produce the most vitamin D when we are exposed to direct sunlight, which just isn’t strong enough during colder months. Low levels of Vitamin D deficiency has also found to be more common in those women with irregular or absent periods. Research has also shown that a whopping 93% of women dealing with infertility issues have also been found to have low levels of vitamin D. Those with PCOS have also been found to have lower levels.
What tests should I request from my GP if my period has gone missing?
If you’ve been missing your period for at least 3 months and you’re definitely not pregnant, you may want to consider going to your Doctor to get to the root cause of your symptoms.
It might be a good idea to request the below tests to get an idea of what is causing your missing periods, though I've heard of some clients having problems trying to get a full panel done with their GP.
- Total and Free Testosterone
- Thyroid Panel: Free T4, Free T3, TSH, Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies, Thyroglobulin Antibodies
- Vitamin D
- tTG and DGP antibodies (to rule out coeliac disease)
Hormone issues can be really hard to navigate on their own, I get it as I’ve been there myself! I have helped many women to balance their hormones and regain their periods. If you want to explore more naturals ways to getting your period back or aren’t getting the help you need currently, feel free to book a free 30-minute phone consultation to see if we’re a good fit.
During the session, you'll be able to tell me about your current health concerns and where you would like to be. I'll be able to point you in the right direction, and between us we can figure out which package is right for you. There's no pressure. If we aren’t a perfect fit, I’m happy to share other resources to help you get what you need.