Absent periods can be one of the symptoms of PCOS that is often due to the underlying hormonal imbalance. However, absent periods could also be due to other lifestyle factors such as poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, stress, or even health conditions like hypothyroidism. Missing your period is not normal, and it is important to understand the root cause to get the proper treatment.Start PCOS Treatment
Amenorrhea is when you don’t get your monthly periods. It can either be temporary or permanent. This can result from a change in function or a problem with some part of the female reproductive system.
Primary amenorrhea is when you haven’t gotten your first period by age 15 or within five years of the first signs of puberty. It can happen due to changes in organs, glands, and hormones related to menstruation.
Secondary amenorrhea is when you have been getting regular periods, but you stop getting your period for at least three months, or you stop your menses for six months when they were previously irregular. Causes can include PCOS, pregnancy, stress, and lifestyle factors.
In hypothalamic amenorrhea, the cause of irregular periods is due to slow or no production of the gonadotropin-stimulating hormone (GnRH) by the hypothalamus, which is responsible for starting the menstrual cycle. Being underweight, stressed, overexercising, and undereating can cause this condition. On the other hand, amenorrhea in PCOS is due to the underlying hormonal imbalance that affects the monthly cycle.
In PCOS, the underlying hormonal imbalance is linked to several symptoms, including elevated levels of insulin and androgen hampering the normal menstrual cycle and making it either absent or irregular. Some women may not get periods for months, while some might experience longer menstrual cycles.
Apart from PCOS, other lifestyle factors such as stress, diet, sedentary lifestyle, poor sleep, and health conditions such as thyroid problems can affect your menstrual cycle too.
Although amenorrhea is not a life-threatening condition per se, leaving it untreated increases the risk of developing long-term health complications such as infertility and endometrial cancer.
This condition is an outcome of an imbalance in hormone levels, which makes it important to determine which hormones are affected. If you haven’t been getting periods or have suddenly become irregular, your doctor can recommend certain tests such as:
It is not normal to not get your periods – which makes it important to understand the root cause of your problem and get proper medical treatment.
Lifestyle modifications can help restore normal period cycles and treat the underlying hormonal imbalance as seen in PCOS. Eating a healthy, nutritious diet, performing regular cardio and strength training, managing stress, and getting good sleep can help in regulating hormone levels. In some cases, where lifestyle changes haven’t shown improvements, birth control pills can also be prescribed to regulate hormone levels.
In PCOS, since insulin resistance is the main driver of the symptoms that are responsible for increasing androgen levels, taking supplements that can reduce insulin resistance can help improve menstrual cycles as well. Supplements such as Myo-inositol, cinnamon, omega-3 fatty acids, and chromium have some research around their benefits in reducing insulin resistance.
Other certain conditions that affect ovarian function can also cause irregular periods. In most cases, you can restore the normal functioning of ovaries but in some cases, women may stop menstruating completely. Here are other conditions that affect ovarian function that can lead to irregular periods
Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) is when your ovaries stop working the way they should before the age of 40. This means your ovaries do not release eggs regularly, which affects period cycles, and leads to infertility.
Women usually experience menopause around the age of 45, however premature menopause is when menopause happens before the age of 40. In this condition, women don’t ovulate or menstruate and lose the ability to get pregnant naturally. There can be multiple causes of premature menopause such as premature ovarian insufficiency, the effect of cancer treatment, or surgical removal of the ovaries. One of the main symptoms of premature menopause is irregular or no periods. Some women may also experience symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, sleep issues, and reduced sex drive.
Prolactin is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland (a pea-sized gland in the base of the brain) that is responsible for the development of mammary glands and lactation. Elevated levels of prolactin hormone also called hyperprolactinaemia can affect the normal menstrual cycle, causing either irregular or no periods (secondary amenorrhea). Hyperprolactinaemia is treatable and although it is not a life-threatening condition, it can increase the risk of infertility. For some, there might be mild to no symptoms of hyperprolactinaemia, so getting a blood test is the only way to be sure of elevated levels of prolactin.
If you haven’t been getting your periods regularly or have missed your periods for quite some time, speak to your doctor to get the correct treatment. Amenorrhea, although seems harmless, can pose many long-term health risks. Early intervention can help improve outcomes and also help you understand what the root cause is. In the case of PCOS, lifestyle modifications and medications, if required, can help restore normal cycles.
Veera’s online assessment is a great place to start if you are not sure whether your symptoms could mean PCOS. Depending on your risk level, our experts can guide you on treatment options that are personalized to your symptoms and concerns.
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