Abnormal menstrual cycles can be a complicated issue to fix, since women’s hormones are impacted by a number of different factors and bodily systems. According to a 2011 report about absent periods published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, frequently missed periods over an extended period of time is a relatively common condition that is present in up to 5 percent of adult women at any time. Meanwhile, many more women experience irregular periods on and off throughout their reproductive years. The hypothalamus in the brain, pituitary, ovarian, adrenal and thyroid glands all help regulate menstruation and balance hormones naturally, so it’s important to pay attention to widespread lifestyle habits that can be negatively affecting hormonal levels.
In women with a regular cycle, normal ovary functioning releases one egg about every 25–28 days. Although the average time between periods varies depending on the woman, especially during puberty and the perimenopause periods, most women will have their periods once monthly when they’re in good health.
When a woman stops getting her period – which is called “amenorrhea” – it’s a solid indication that something isn’t right. Primary amenorrhea is when a young woman never got her period to begin with during puberty, while secondary amenorrhea is when a woman has had her period in the past but stops getting her monthly period for three or more months.
Having a regular, moderately pain-free period each month is a good indication that hormones are in balance and the reproductive system is working properly. The opposite is also true: Irregular periods, missed periods, or very painful and intense PMS symptoms are a sign that levels of one of more hormones are either lacking or are too high. Whether it’s an underlying health condition, chronic stress levels, a poor diet, too much exercise or low body weight, frequently missed periods — when you’re sure you aren’t pregnant that is — are not something to ignore.
Alarmingly, some reports show that many women choose not to speak with a doctor about frequently missed periods or irregular periods, which is a big risk considering the fact that irregular hormones and amenorrhea are linked with a number of serious conditions, including an increased risk for: osteoporosis, heart disease, infertility and other further hormonal complications.:
According to researchers from the Mayo Clinic Division of Endocrinology, “amenorrhea may be the manifesting feature of a wide array of anatomic and endocrine abnormalities. Amenorrhea results in impaired fertility. When estrogen levels are low, changes in mineral, glucose, and fat metabolism accompany amenorrhea. These metabolic changes affect bone and cardiovascular health, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and coronary heart disease in later life.”
In the case of secondary amenorrhea, according to expert Nicola Rinaldi, Ph.D, “There are five factors that usually play into hypothalamic amenorrhea (abbreviated as HA): restricted eating, exercise, low weight /BMI /body fat, stress (which can be from many sources such as family, job, grief, work, etc.) and genetics.”
When you’re under a lot of stress for an ongoing period, your body can start to conserve energy by preventing ovulation. Experiencing a traumatic event, or even a lot of “ordinary” stress, can suddenly cause the adrenals to work overtime, which can disrupt the production of thyroid hormones, estrogen and other reproductive hormones. Among other factors, like restrictive eating and over-exercising, stress can contribute to hypothalamic amenorrhea. Also, A poor diet low in nutrients, antioxidants and probiotic foods yet high in stimulants can tax the adrenal glands and thyroid. For example, a high intake of sugar, hydrogenated fats and artificial additives, or pesticides is linked with thyroid issues and adrenal fatigue that can raise cortisol.
Excessive bleeding can cause anemia, or iron deficiency, and may signal an underlying medical condition. In most cases, a doctor can successfully treat abnormal periods.