Causes, Risks, and Treatments for Missed Periods

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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that is characterized by high levels of testosterone (all women have testosterone, as well as all men have estrogen) that create an imbalance of female sex hormones. PCOS affects 3 to 10 percent of women of reproductive age. Polycystic ovary syndrome is one of the most common causes of ovulatory infertility because of the hormonal imbalance that is typical for this condition. Irregular periods and the absence of periods (amenorrhea) is a definite symptom of PCOS. But there are still many other different causes of missed periods.

Causes of absent periods

There are many causes of missed period and they usually include either some diseases in the uterus (for example, uterine fibroids) or external conditions that can be more difficult to determine. Polycystic ovary syndrome is one of the conditions that your doctor may suspect, especially if you constantly have missed or irregular periods. PCOS is usually diagnosed when a woman has these symptoms:

  • Ovarian cysts
  • Irregular or missed periods
  • High androgen levels

If you are a teenager and recently had your first period or a woman who is approaching ovarian failure or menopause, irregular or missed periods are very common due to the fluctuation of your hormones. Menstrual irregularities can also be caused by an intrauterine device (IUD) or if you recently changed your oral contraceptives.

If you train hard, lost a lot of weight or experience extreme stress, this can also affect your periods. Moreover, some medical conditions such as hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) and hyperthyroidism (excessive thyroid function), can also lead to missed or even absent periods. If you have missed at least two periods in a row or if you are 15 years old or older and have not yet had your period, it is better to make an appointment with your doctor 

What are the risks of missed periods?

A single missed period can be considered normal but if you regularly miss your periods, you may be at higher risk of endometrial cancer. During the menstrual cycle, the endometrium is exposed to hormones such as estrogens, which promote proliferation and thickening of the uterine lining. When ovulation doesn’t happen, this lining remains in uterus and becomes exposed to much higher concentrations of estrogen. It means that the endometrium becomes much thicker than usual and this is what contributes to an enhanced risk of endometrial cancer.

But you also need to know that this doesn’t apply when you are taking birth control pills, especially those that are designed to prevent you from getting your menstruation more than once every few months. These pills maintain a low level of hormones and a thin lining of the endometrium, which significantly reduces the risk of endometrial cancer. 

The most common symptoms of endometrial cancer are pelvic pain, spotting between periods, pain during sex, and watery discharge. Since there are usually no other early warning symptoms, it is better to consult a doctor even if your symptoms are moderate.

Treatment for missed periods

There is a lot of different treatment methods for irregular or absent periods in PCOS. The fact is that it’s not good if your uterus doesn’t get rid of your lining every month. This can lead to endometrial accumulation that increases your risk to develop uterine cancer. Your doctor may recommend you take oral contraceptives in order to balance hormones and regulate your cycle. 

Weight loss, changes in diet, and exercise may also help maintain a regular cycle. If you suffer from PCOS, you may also try the inositol supplement that can help regulate the periods and balance the hormones. If your period suddenly becomes irregular, consult your doctor as soon as possible because some diagnostic examination or medical intervention may be required.