Stop panicking. We know you’re panicking. Stop it.
Have you stopped? Are you sure? Are you chill? Good.
If you’ve missed your period, it can send The Fear through your body. Immediately you’re calculating how many pennies you have for nappies, ordering birthing pools, and Google mapping the nearest Babies R Us. Even though you’ve never even had sex.
And even if you HAVE had sex, there can still be many other reasons for a missed period. Put the baby name book down for a minute and listen.
A lot of contraceptives, including both types of the pill, the implant, and the injection, contain hormones, and hormones can fiddle with your body. If you’re trying a new contraceptive then it’s likely your period will be irregular for a few months while it settles into the new routine. Like Instagram’s layout changing and you missing messages from people because you don’t know where the hell to find them. Or something.
Your body is a fabulous, clever thing. When you’re sick, it goes into protection and organisation mode. It’ll prioritise the most important systems in your body and put all its energy into making you better, meaning sometimes other systems don’t work as well… ta-daa, including your reproductive system. If you were unwell, even with a cold, when you were meant to ovulate then your ovaries might have been in sleep mode, resulting in a missed period. Nifty.
Stress can affect your whole body, including your period. The adrenaline released puts your body into fight or flight mode, meaning your lungs, heart, and muscles are prioritised over systems like the reproductive system. Interestingly this is also why you can get the sh*ts when you’re stressed or nervous – that adrenaline sends everything a bit erratic. And sloppy. Sorry.
Gaining or losing weight rapidly can affect your hormone levels, and in turn affect your periods. If your weight changes are so extreme and sudden that you’re missing a period then this probably isn’t too healthy, so it’s best you see your GP to talk everything through.
Too much exercise
Exercise is great. Exercise is wonderful, in fact, but too much can affect your hormone levels. (What we’re learning here is that hormones are VERY SENSITIVE AND DO NOT LIKE CHANGE.) This is much more likely to affect professional athletes, but always make sure you’re exercising in a healthy way and accompanied by a balanced diet.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a condition that affects the hormone levels in your body. You can read more about it here, but one symptom of PCOS is missed periods. So, if you find missing periods regularly then a visit to the GP is probably in order.
Plain old puberty
Sigh. Puberty is great, right? So fun! When you first start your period, it’s unlikely to be regular for the first few months. Probably longer. Your period can be so light you’ll think it’s discharge, and so dark brown you’ll think your bumhole and vagina have switched places in the night. They might last for two days, then fourteen, then no days at all. Your reproductive system is like a softplay centre full of toddlers on Smarties. Utter mayhem.
If you still can’t work out why you’ve missed a period and you’re worried about it, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your GP. They can run tests and put your mind at ease. (And of course if you’re sexually active and worried you haven’t/might not have used protection, you should definitely get things checked out asap).
But remember: YOU ARE NOT THE VIRGIN MARY.