This Is What Not Getting Your Period Could Tell You About Your Health

I have had an interesting relationship with my period, ever since I was 12 years old. When it comes regularly, I curse its existence and wish it would go away, but when it’s irregular, I literally panic. Somehow, I miss debilitating cramps when they don’t come on time. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind for me when my period is late is pregnancy. I blame Lil Wayne, who once said, “Safe sex is great sex, better wear a latex/'Cause you don't want that late text, that ‘I think I'm late’ text.”

I eventually stopped taking medical advice from rappers and learned (am still learning?) that a missed period, also called amenorrhea, isn’t always a sign of pregnancy. Everyone’s body is a little different. As such, our bodies react in different ways do different stimuli, and one of those ways is a missed period for folks who have a uterus.

Before you hightail it to CVS for a pregnancy test, know that there are other potential reasons your period has gone missing in action. If any of these — or none of these — sound like what you might be going through, consult with a medical professional to figure out what the potential source of your missing period is.

You could be exercising too much

Exercising is a great way to stay in shape and boost energy levels, but excessive exercise can lead to missed periods because of the way exercise releases hormones in your body. You might think this is a cool life hack to avoid a monthly inconvenience, but prolonged missed periods because of these hormonal changes can lead to heart disease, infertility, and changes in bone density, which can cause fractures.

You could be stressed out

Noticed that your period always goes MIA during midterms and finals? Your period can temporarily stop during times of heightened stress, because of how the hormone cortisol interacts with the hormones that make your period come on time. Take time to practice self-care when you’re stressed out to manage your cortisol levels so that they don't impact your period.

Your hormones could be off

If you haven't guessed already, if your hormones are out of whack, it'll affect your period in a big way. But everyday stressors aren't the only thing that will mess up your hormone levels. Hormonal imbalances triggered by tumors on the pituitary or thyroid gland can cause you to miss your period. Low levels of estrogen and high levels of testosterone can also play a role.

Your medication could be messing with it

Medications often have side effects, and a missing period can be one of them. Antipsychotics, antidepressants, and chemotherapy drugs are known for causing missed periods — if you just started taking a new medication, double check if missing periods are one of the potential side effects.

Your birth control might be playing a role
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It’s common to notice your period slow down and even completely stop while on certain kinds of birth control. In fact, there are some kinds of birth control that are designed to make your period go away, so if that sounds like something you want control over, consider discussing it with your gyno.

You might be perimenopausal

Women as young as forty can be in the beginning stages of menopause, which is defined by not having your period for 12 consecutive months. If you don’t know if your missed period could be due to pregnancy or menopause, take a pregnancy test, then follow up with your doctor.

A missed period can bring on a range of emotions, but try not to jump to conclusions. A visit to your doctor can shed some light on what’s going with your uterus. Once you find out why you’ve missed your period, you can take the steps to get Aunt Flo back on schedule.