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Period or Question Mark: 5 Things Messing with Aunt Flo

By Nikita Mishra

You know what would be ideal? If Mother Nature just picked up the phone and told you, "You’re not pregnant, have a great month!" Repeat that conversation 12 times a year and hold off on the bleeding, the cramps, the soul-sucking bad mood... Instead, we have Aunt Flo. I think of her as being just like that annoying boy who always makes you miserable but who you still want to see month after month. Of course this is only true until you want to be pregnant, but that's a story for another day.
Until that day, there's the unease to blind panic spectrum (we've all been there!) when your period doesn't make its monthly appearance.  But do remember that besides pre-menopause and pregnancy, there are many reasons which can make your period go out of whack.

Five Reasons for Missed or Irregular Periods: Nikita Mishra/ Health Collective

Credit: Nikita Mishra/ Health Collective

  1. You’re Seriously Stressed

Quick Fact: Ovulation starts in the pituitary gland of your brain and not your uterus. So if it’s the season of makeups and breakups, interviews or job losses, anxiety about birth or death in the family...Many things can snap the connection between your brain and your ovaries, making your monthly cycle go wonky.

Mumbai-based gynaecologist, Dr Sangita Agarwal tells The Health Collective, “Stress is the most common cause of your body shutting down the ovulation system. And it doesn’t always have to be something big like death or divorce; just one night of tremendous stress can signal the brain to not produce the hormones required for ovulation.”

Also Read: Ask the Experts: Relationships, Happiness, Living the Life you Want

  1. You're Travelling Through Time Zones

This is a sneaky one. Your zzz’s are not the only thing which get rickety when you jet set across time zones. When you’re air-bound for more than 8-hours, the circadian rhythm (which influences the body’s clockwork) goes for a toss. The hormones which regulate your periods are also tied to these rhythms and get messed up when coupled with a fluctuating light-dark cycle.
Logically you’d think that these symptoms would be worse in a long haul flight, but more than the time it’s the direction which makes your brain groggy. Scientists are still trying to understand the exact reason, but it’s the West to East travel which hits the circadian rhythm and your periods the hardest. Probably because it’s tougher to adjust to a shorter day and we lose time going to the east.

  1.  Your Weight has been Fluctuating 

There is such a thing as excessive exercise. Suddenly upped your workout game to achieve that flawless summer bod? Well, your brain can perceive this as an extreme stressor and put the kibosh on your monthly crimson wave.  Step back, girl, take it easy, your body needs a certain amount of fat to ovulate. On the other hand, if you’ve piled on the pounds rather rapidly, Aunt Flo is the first to notice. 

“Too much weight gain can throw your hormones for a loop. Your ovaries can start making extra testosterone which can hinder ovulation, consequently, you can have too little or too heavy periods”, says Dr Agarwal.

Also Read: Ask the Experts: Understanding Anxiety Disorders

  1. You Forgot to Pop Your Birth Control Pill

For most women with painful periods, birth control pills are a god-send. They can make periods lighter and help you lose the cramps, but if there’s a change in the dosage of the birth control pill or you’ve introduced the IUD or gone for hormonal shots this time, you might end up missing a cycle or two because your body needs time to adjust to a new cycle. Don’t freak out, repeat after me, it's going to be fine.

  1. You’ve Been Sick

Virals, flu, bacterial infections like sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic inflammatory disease, all of these can wreck your monthly cycle the same way stress does. Also, heavy duty antibiotics can shoot up the level of estrogen in your body which might give you some random mid-month bleeding. 
Not scoring enough on the snooze card, even a single night of insomnia, working in night shifts, not to mention an underlying disease, smoking, alcohol, too much caffeine, spotty attendance at the gym, crash diets or loading up on sugar could just be some of the many reasons why your hormones are acting out of whack. 
Bottom-line – a single or double missed cycle should not set the alarm bells ringing. (And that stress remember, sets off its own chain reaction! But if wonky/ long M.I.A periods are a regular feature, please to discuss the matter with a gynaecologist. 

Views expressed are personal; Material on The Health Collective cannot substitute for expert advice from a trained professional.

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