Have you missed your period for more than three months, but the pregnancy test is negative? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Absence of menstruation or amenorrhea is when a woman doesn’t get her period in more than three months, or when a girl doesn’t get her first menstruation by the age of 15. The prevalence of the condition is growing as more women endure stress and toxic environmental impact. It’s challenging to know the actual numbers of women struggling to get their periods, but amenorrhea affects approximately 3-5 percent of reproductive-age women.
Amenorrhea is categorized into two types:
- Primary amenorrhea is when a girl doesn’t get her first menstruation by the age of 15.
- Secondary amenorrhea is when a woman who had regular periods suddenly doesn’t menstruate for more than three months.
The natural causes of menstruation absence are pregnancy, breastfeeding, or menopause. If none of these apply to you, you might want to check in with your health practitioner to treat the underlying cause.
A lot of women have noticed changes in their menstrual cycles during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the health crisis affected most of us, many women reported more painful periods than usual, irregular menstruation, and a loss of periods altogether. It indicates that one of the leading causes of amenorrhea is stress and psychological traumas. Sarah Toler, a women’s health practitioner, says that the body suppresses the natural menstrual cycle due to high stress hormone cortisol levels. However, stress isn’t the only reason why some women struggle to regain their natural cycles.
Why don’t I get my period?
If you haven’t had your first period and are older than 15 years old, or your menstruation just stopped, it’s important to find the reason why. A woman’s menstrual cycle is an indicator of her health. Since the goal of the cycle is ovulation, the absence of a period often means that you aren’t ovulating. On top of that, you might experience the following symptoms:
- Hair loss;
- Pain in the pelvic area;
- Mood swings;
- Weigh gain.
Amenorrhea symptoms and causes
Stress. As I mentioned before, stress is a common cause of amenorrhea. When your body is in stress, it suppresses the menstrual cycle and ovulation as it can’t ensure a safe environment for potential impregnation. The stress hormone cortisol blocks the sex hormone progesterone production, which can also be why you aren’t ovulating and getting your period.
Reproductive organ development. Lack of female reproductive organs or their structural abnormalities may be the reason why a girl doesn’t get her first menstruation. If during fetal development, it didn’t develop a vagina, uterus, or cervix, later on, the girl can’t get a menstrual cycle.
Hormonal birth control. Many women choose to control their cycles with hormonal birth control. As hormonal contraception often works to stop ovulation, it can cause hormonal imbalance, followed by the absence of menstruation. A lot of women also experience post-pill amenorrhea. Usually, it happens because a woman can’t get back to ovulating naturally. The pill contains synthetic progesterone called progestin, and for natural ovulation, your body needs to produce its own progesterone. It might take a while for your hormones to get back to normal and recover a natural cycle.
Unhealthy lifestyle. Poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, or overexercising can cause the body to shut down the menstrual cycle. Strict diets and eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa are linked to a long-term loss of menstruation. Women who have an eating disorder report an absence of periods even after returning to a regular diet. A healthy cycle needs balanced sex hormones and enough fuel to function. If the body is in poor condition or stressed, it can’t focus on running regular and healthy menstruation.
Reproductive system disorders. PCOS and fibroids oftentimes cause hormonal imbalances, resulting in amenorrhea. Ovarian cysts might withhold an egg from being released and, as a result, suppress the period.
A healthy and regular menstrual cycle is important even if you aren’t planning to get pregnant or have a baby. The menstrual cycle isn’t only about the reproductive system, it’s a mirror to your overall health. The absence of menstruation signals that there’s an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. So, what can you do to regain your natural cycle and improve your health?
What to do when you lose your period?
Identify the cause. First of all, if you suspect that you could be pregnant, take a home pregnancy test or visit your doctor’s office. If natural reproductive events such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, or menopause aren’t the cause, then your health practitioner should perform all the necessary tests to identify the problem. They might check your hormonal levels and make sure you don’t have cysts or fibroids on your ovaries or uterus.
Try to reduce stress. If you aren’t pregnant, don’t have reproductive system disorders, or aren’t taking hormonal contraception, stress might be the culprit. Stress management starts from within. For your body to deal with external triggers, you need to eliminate internal stressors first. Overexercising, fasting, dieting, and lacking sleep cause your body to produce excess cortisol, making you more insulin resistant, tired, and losing natural cycles. When you provide your body with energy and nutrition that it needs, you can deal with external and internal stress better.
While you can control the way you nourish your body, sometimes it’s challenging to avoid stressful situations in daily life. Yet, it’s essential to find a healthy coping mechanism to learn to relax and unwind. You might choose to practice some mindfulness techniques such as meditation, yoga, or mindful breathing. If you notice that stress interferes with your daily life, you may find it helpful to consult with a professional therapist.
Keep nourishing your body. Your body needs a variety of nutrients to function properly. Preparing the body for ovulation and releasing an egg requires a lot of energy and a safe environment. Therefore, it’s recommended to choose a balanced diet that contains healthy proteins, carbs, and fat.
Moving and exercising are also crucial in having regular periods. Since everyone is different, it’s better to choose sports that serve your needs and health condition. Find what feels good by listening to your body. For instance, many women with PCOS find that slow exercises are much more beneficial than extended cardio intervals.
Your body has a great way of telling you how it feels. The menstrual cycle is an indicator of your reproductive and overall health. When something is wrong, your menstrual cycle will show you. That’s why it’s important to track your menstruation and notice changes to understand better why your body doesn’t feel safe to run a regular cycle.
It’s also important to take care of your comfort and hygiene during your period. Genial Day period products are inspired by women and created to alleviate uncomfortable menstruation symptoms. Choose a safe and science-based way to befriend your period.