Amenorrhea: Why is My Period Missing?

What is amenorrhea?

Amenorrhea is the loss of a female’s menstrual cycle for at least three consecutive months.

Every month your uterus prepares for birth and the uterine lining becomes thick. If the egg does not get fertilized then the lining will shed as the period. Your hormone estrogen will be at its highest when the lining forms and will gradually decrease after ovulation to its lowest point during menstruation. The body knows to prepare for birth again and a new lining on the uterus will form. When your period goes missing it’s a sign from your body that something is out of balance.

Why is my period missing?

If you’re not pregnant, breastfeeding, or through menopause (natural reasons your period goes missing), the loss of your period is often caused by stress on the body that results in a hormone imbalance. Specifically, the hypothalamus - the gland in the brain that scans the body to monitor hormone levels - slows or stops releasing a hormone called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) that signals the release of hormones that govern the menstrual cycle [1].

When estrogen and/or progesterone levels are too low, you lack the ability to build up the uterine lining (estrogen’s job at the beginning of the menstrual cycle) and shed the lining.

Long term effects negatively impact your health. Even though it might feel liberating not to worry about bringing a tampon everywhere (or menstrual cup) with you, it is important to understand that your period is a vital sign that provides crucial insight into your overall health.

Here are 7 reasons your period may be missing due to hypothalamic amenorrhea [1]:

1. My period is missing because of excessive exercise

2. My period is missing because I’m under eating

3. My period is missing because I’m at a low body weight

4. My period is missing because I have a low body fat percentage

5. My period is missing because I’m struggling with an eating disorder

6. My period is missing because I quit hormonal birth control (post-pill amenorrhea)

7. My period is missing because I’m experiencing a lot of mental or emotional stress

Besides hypothalamic amenorrhea, certain other hormonal conditions may be the reason your period is missing:

1. My period is missing because I have primary ovarian insufficiency

2. My period is missing because I have PCOS

3. My period is missing because I have low thyroid function (hypothyroidism)

Certain medications or pharmaceuticals can also result in a missing period:

1. My period is missing because I’m on hormonal birth control

2. My period is missing because I’m on a medication like an antidepressant, antipsychotic, or blood pressure medication

Take away message:

It’s not a good thing when your period goes missing. Having a period supports hormone health, body composition, and bone density. To keep your period healthy and happy, make sure to eat when you are hungry, do not restrict food, and incorporate mindful movement / nourishing exercise that supports your body.

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