A missed period can cause considerable concern for a woman, especially if she is not anticipating a pregnancy. While pregnancy is the most common reason for missing a period, there are several other reasons, which are completely unrelated to pregnancy, why a woman may skip a period. Most women will miss periods at some point in their lives for reasons other than pregnancy, but if a period does not return within two to three months, a gynecologist should be consulted.
Most women who breast-feed their infants exclusively will skip periods for months after delivering their baby. It is common for a period not to return in a breast-feeding woman until her baby is completely weaned and her body's fertility is restored. As with other instances when a woman skips a period, it is still possible to get pregnant while breast-feeding or missing periods.
Weight Gain or Loss
Rapid or extreme weight gain or loss are other common reasons women may skip their period and not be pregnant. Gaining or losing weight quickly can have drastic effects, often disrupting many of the body's major functions, including the menstrual cycle. Typically, a woman's period will return once the body adjusts to the new weight, unless an unhealthy amount of weight was lost or gained, resulting in either a new underweight or obese body mass.
Excessive exercise can also cause women to skip a period and is frequently seen in competitive athletes.
Most women will skip a period and not be pregnant at some point in their lives due to physical or emotional stress. Stress, especially when severe or prolonged, takes a toll on the body's normal functioning, much like rapid weight gain or loss, and can disturb the usual workings of the menstrual cycle. Typically, when stress is reduced a woman's period will return. Fatigue and illness are typically associated with stress as reasons that may cause a missed period. Rest and recovery are the primary ways women can help return their cycles to normal in these instances.
It is not uncommon for young women in their first years of menstruation to skip periods and have rather erratic cycles without being pregnant. It often takes up to three years for the menstrual cycle to firmly establish itself in a young female, thus causing an initial irregularity in function. Likewise, women approaching menopause and the complete cessation of menstruation often skip periods without being pregnant as their bodies prepare for the coming hormonal changes.
Many women take birth control pills to help regulate their menstrual cycles, but for those taking very low dose varieties, it can actually result in light or skipped periods. These low dose birth control pills may have such low levels of hormones that they are not able to sustain the normal functioning of the menstrual cycle. Women coming off birth control pills also may experience skipped periods as their bodies adjust to governing menstruation naturally.