Changes to Your Cycle
Did you know that even if you normally have regular periods there are various things that can change your cycle?
If you gain or lose weight rapidly you can disrupt your cycle. And it can be a sign that there is something medically wrong, especially if you weren't over-eating or dieting.
The average woman needs at least 18% of body fat in order to ovulate. So if you go below a certain weight/height ratio you can stop ovulating and your periods may stop all together. If you are super thin or suffer from anorexia you may be compromising your future fertility, never mind your current health.
If you have a sudden weight gain your hormone balance can be disrupted and your ovulation can be delayed. You may start to have irregular cycles when you never had them before. You could be suffering from a thyroid disorder or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome if you are overweight and find it very difficult to lose weight.
In rare cases, a sudden large weight loss or gain can be a sign of something much more serious, especially if it affects your periods, so make sure you get checked out by your GP.
Suffering from emotional stress can affect your periods. Even worrying that you might be pregnant can be enough to delay your period! If you are overworking and don't get enough sleep, worrying about a promotion for example or about losing your job, this can also affect your cycle. Stress can cause your cycle to be longer than average and may mean either that your ovulation was delayed or that you didn't ovulate at all. Also if you have just broken up with your partner, moved house, lost a family member, or had an accident, it can contribute to your periods becoming erratic for a time.
You may be surprised but even going on holiday can affect your periods! The change of climate, different food, or being in a different time zone can all affect your cycle. So be prepared by packing some sanitary protection just in case your period comes early. On the other hand some women who've been trying to get pregnant for a long time find that all they needed was to relax and unwind away from it all. So if you don't want to get caught out, make sure you pack your contraceptives along with your suntan lotion!
Both prescribed medication and street drugs can disrupt your cycle and may affect your fertility. Marijuana is known to disrupt women's cycles not to mention more powerful street drugs! Even tobacco and caffeine can lower your fertility, and anti-histamines can affect sperm survival. So let your GP know if you are trying to conceive so that your doctor can take it into account when considering what to prescribe. However, this does not mean that any of these things can be considered to be contraceptives!
Of course if you miss a period and you are sexually active, even if you are using contraception, the most likely cause is that you are pregnant. Make sure you take a pregnancy test as soon as possible to make sure. The sooner you have proper ante-natal care the better for you and the baby.
If there is no chance whatsoever that you are pregnant, go and see your GP for a check-up, especially if you've missed more than one period.
If you want to know more about your periods, pregnancy or other aspects of women's health, take a look around the rest of our website.