Monthly menstrual cycles, also known as periods, are part of every young woman’s life. They are annoying but serve as a key measure for any woman’s overall health. A healthy menstrual cycle can range from 21 to 35 days and is heavily dependent on the individual. A missed or late period does not necessarily mean you are pregnant. Common causes range from hormonal imbalances to serious medical conditions. Consider the following before raising concern and contacting your OB/GYN.
Know Your Normal
Period cycles are highly individualized. Timing, flow, and regularity is not necessarily the same for one woman as it is for another. Take note of your own “normal” and don’t be alarmed if it is slightly different from someone else’s. If you are just starting out or need some guided help, there are various tools and apps available for women to keep track of their cycles and norms.
Pregnancy is the generally the first thing that comes to mind when you think of missed or late periods. However, there are many other conditions that could cause an irregular period cycle. It is important to be aware of these conditions so that you can identify other symptoms and get the needed medical attention. The following are also common conditions that cause irregular cycles:
- Stress – Stress can throw off your hormones, change your daily routine, and even affect the part of your brain responsible for regulating your period.
- Body Weight – Abnormally low body weight (due to eating disorders), as well as abnormally high body weight (obesity) can cause late or missed periods.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – PCOS affects around 10 million women globally and can make ovulation irregular or stop it altogether. This condition causes your body to produce more of the male hormone androgen and results in cysts forming on the ovaries.
- Birth Control – Going on or off birth control, as well as changing birth control, can result in irregular periods.
- Early Peri-Menopause – Most women begin menopause between ages 45 o 55. Women who develop symptoms around age 40 or earlier are considered to have early peri-menopause.
Visit Your OBGYN
If your period is late or irregular, you should not immediately be concerned. Nonetheless, you should not hesitate to contact your OB/GYN and set up an appointment. If you are currently looking for an OB/GYN, we are currently taking new patients at our Brentwood practice. Contact us today at (615) 690-6600.