So, you’ve lost your period?

When should you be concerned? After one missed period? After a few? After a few years?

Let’s just assume you’re not pregnant or in perimenopause. Assuming that, then yes, missing your period is something that does need attention. It can indicate that there might be medical factors at play, such as thyroid dysfunction and other hormonal issues including Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. 

However, it is way more complex and nuanced than that. And in my opinion, it is not something that needs to be just ‘fixed’ by taking the oral contraceptive pill to create a cycle and the illusion of hormonal balance. We should always be asking the question, ‘Why?’. What could be happening in this woman’s life to make her period stop?

But first, we need a brief nerd-fest to explain a little of the medical stuff. Basically, one of the things your body needs to create a regular cycle is feeling safe. When it feels safe, your hypothalamus in the brain releases a hormone that signals to your pituitary gland to release more hormones to create the cascade needed for a period to occur. 

There are many things that might make your brain and body feel ‘unsafe’. It could be emotional stress, physical stress, exercise, under-eating, under-fueling for the amount of exercise you’re doing and so on.  Under these circumstances of feeling unsafe, the signal for menstruation may not take place. The hypothalamus just knows. 

It’s always worth a chat with your GP about this, and an attempt to understand why you might be missing a period (or periods). If you can identify that there are psychological factors at play, you’re experiencing stress and burning the candle at both ends, then talking to a professional can definitely help. Suffering in silence won’t. 

This is such a big topic, particularly in relation to women in sport. See my other blog post titled “RED-s” for more sport specific stuff to work out why your period may be AWOL if you’re an athlete.