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Periods stay away – 8 possible reasons other than pregnancy

The most common reason why periods stop is probably pregnancy. But there are other causes that can lead to the absence of menstruation. What these are and when it is important to seek medical advice – Tikbow asked an expert.

If there is no period and pregnancy can be ruled out, there may be various reasons. In rare cases, it can be cancer – "but usually there is something else, much more harmless behind it", explains Dr. med. Mandy Mangler, head of gynecology and obstetrics at the Vivantes Auguste-Viktoria-Klinikum in Berlin.

Period stops – hormonal reasons

If you stop taking the pill, it can take up to a year before your period starts again," says Dr. Mangler. But diseases of the thyroid gland, the adrenal gland or the ovary can also cause menstruation to stop.  "These organs are responsible for hormone production", says the expert. "If they become imbalanced, this also upsets the cycle. If, for example, the thyroid glands are under- or over-functioning, this also affects hormone production in the ovaries. As a result, menstruation does not occur. This is also the case if too few or too many hormones are produced in the adrenal gland, such as autoimmune diseases of the ovaries. But there is also good news, as Mandy Mangler, MD, points out: "Most of these endocrinological, or hormonal, disorders can be treated. The missing hormones can often be substituted;

Frozen menopause

According to the portal Frauenärzte im Netz half of all women have their last menstrual period at the age of 52. "However, in some women the ovaries stop working much earlier", Dr. med. Mandy Mangler, M.D.  "This means that menstruation stops before the age of 40, and affected women experience what is known as a delayed menopause. In rare cases, this can also affect younger women, and sometimes the period does not occur at all. This type of disorder can be improved by hormone treatment, but in most cases it cannot be completely eliminated;

Dietary restrictions

If you eat too little or too much, you run the risk of upsetting your cycle,” warns the gynecologist. "Especially in anorexia and bulimia, i.e. in cases of malnutrition, the body often switches to an emergency program: All non-essential processes are shut down, including hormone production in the ovaries." Extreme athletes who strongly regulate their weight may also miss their period as a result. "So to restore a normal cycle, especially if there is a desire to have children, the eating disorder must be treated first and foremost" says Mangler.

Women with a high body mass index are often more likely to have a heavy period. "This is because female hormones are produced more in fatty tissue", explains the gynecologist. "However, in the case of extreme obesity, this can also turn into the opposite, and the period does not occur at all instead"

Period stops – psychological stress

Severe psychological stress can also cause periods to stop. This is often observed in people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders,” says Dr. Mangler. The cause: "In extreme stress situations, the adrenal gland releases stress hormones. These hormones, in turn, ensure that the body concentrates only on vital functions – and everything else – including menstruation – temporarily stops. The body then reacts like its own intensive care unit;

Drugs and chemotherapy

A lack of menstruation can also be related to ongoing chemotherapy. In this case, it does not matter whether it is ovarian cancer or another organ that is affected, "In chemotherapy, drugs are administered into the blood and thus distributed throughout the body," explains the gynecologist.  "So also the ovaries and associated with the menstrual period are partly affected and it may be that the ovaries stop their work for a time." 

Medication that is not perfectly adjusted can also lead to the absence of menstruation, for example if thyroid hormones are not dosed correctly. However, in the case of menstrual irregularities associated with medication, it is usually the case that the period does not stop completely, but simply comes more irregularly," the gynecologist knows.

When to see a doctor?

Mandy Mangler, M.D., advises women who have not had their period for more than three months to have the possible causes clarified by a doctor.