Understand Delayed Menstruation and The Causes

Edited by Debbie, Charmed, Eng, Anonymous and 3 others

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Have you been experiencing a problem with not having your period on a regular basis? Has it been a month or possibly many months since your last menstrual period? Are you feeling anxious or stressed out with the simplest things? Whenever a woman misses her period, the first thing that comes to mind would be the probability of pregnancy especially if you are on your fertile years and sexually active. However, there are other reasons that can cause delays in your menstrual period or missing it altogether. Amenorrhea is a medical term which means the absence of menstrual periods. Having problems with interruptions with your menstrual period is not a disease in itself but a symptom or manifestation of a medical condition or any chronic illness. Find out the different causative or underlying factors that could result to disruption or absence of menstruation and be able to understand how it happens. Knowing the trigger factors will empower any woman to effectively deal with delayed menstruation woes to be able to seek expert and proper treatment the soonest time possible.

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Overview on Menstruation

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Menstruation, menarche, or menstrual period in women is defined as the routine shedding of the lining of the uterus or endometrium which happens on a regular or monthly menstrual cycle as the body prepares itself for the possibility of pregnancy. In the event that implantation or fertilization does not occur, vaginal bleeding transpires from the shedding of uterine lining which is a composite of tissues and blood that finds its way out through the cervix and then the vagina. Adolescent girls usually starts menstruating at the age of 11 to 14 which typically lasts from 3 to 5 days. The average menstrual cycle usually lasts for about 28 days but can go as long as 31 days for adult women and up until 45 days for teenagers. Menstrual flow and length varies from one individual to another as it could appear light, moderate, or heavy and can run normally from as short as 2 days to longer or until 7 days depending on several factors like age, stress, hormones, lifestyle and environmentally related factors, or certain associated illnesses.

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Having a regular menstrual cycle corresponds to a normal and healthy overall body functioning. A woman's hormones specifically progesterone and estrogen works primarily by regulating the menstrual cycle. The 1st day of the menstrual cycle is also the 1st day of your menstrual period. The cycle starts from the 1st day of a woman's menstrual period up until the 1st day of your next menstrual period or luteal phase. Estrogen and progesterone hormones produced by the ovaries are crucial in ovulation and development of a female body's secondary sexual traits. Estrogen is considered to be the primary hormone which is essential not just for menstruation and pregnancy but also for maintaining bone strength due mainly to improved calcium absorption, promoting skin elasticity and thickness, enhancement of cardiac muscles, as well as improved vaginal and bladder functions. Estrogen prepares the endometrium for potential implantation of fertilized egg while the progesterone upsurge keeps the endometrial lining thick just in time for fertilization. These two hormones help keep a woman's body in perfect balance as too much production of estrogen has been proven to increase the chances of getting cancer which is counterbalanced by the elevated levels of progesterone in varied body receptors. Too much estrogen can also result to premature labor which is tipped off and controlled by progesterone.

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28-day Menstrual Cycle:

Day 1 - This is the 1st day of the menstrual cycle or the onset of vaginal bleeding which also ends the previous menstrual cycle. The breakdown of the endometrial lining or bleeding happens with the drop in both progesterone and estrogen levels. Vaginal bleeding occur within 3 to 5 days.

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Day 7 - This is commonly referred to as the follicular phase or the time wherein the ovarian follicles start to produce an egg or ovum.

Day 7 to 14 - Only 1 egg gets to reach full maturity. The uterine lining has also started to thicken which is composed and enriched in nutrients and blood in preparation for pregnancy.

Day 14 - This is also coined as the ovulation phase. At this point, the ovarian follicles erupt and release the egg or ovum.

Day 14 to 24 - Over the next days, the egg will travel all the way down to the fallopian tube. If a sperm cell permeates the egg, fertilization then occurs. The fertilized egg then proceeds to travel down the fallopian tube and attaches itself to the wall of the uterus.

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Day 25 - The hormonal levels tend to drop around this time. If no fertilization occurs at this point, the egg then ruptures and the endometrium lining breaks down to begin with the next menstrual cycle.

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Many women experience variety of premenstrual symptoms such as tenderness of breasts, bloating or gaining water weight, acne eruptions, feeling extremely sensitive or emotional, and menstrual cramps or "dysmenorrhea" that can be felt on the lower abdomen, back, pelvic area, and lower extremities. Severity and frequency of the above premenstrual and menstrual symptoms vary from one person to another depending on certain biological, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

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What is Amenorrhea

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Normally, a woman would not have their menstrual period during puberty, while they are pregnant, and once they reach the menopausal stage or between the age of 45 to 55. Amenorrhea medically pertains to the absence of menstrual flow or period which could manifest either temporarily or permanently depending on certain intrinsic medical conditions. If you happen to miss one regular monthly cycle then that would be nothing to worry about but if it extends longer like for 6 months or so then that could be a symptom of a worsening underlying illnesses which may warrant immediate medical attention.

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Symptoms of Amenorrhea:

  • Cessation of menstrual flow
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Throbbing headache
  • Hirsutism or development of unwanted and excessive body hair
  • Acne formation
  • Hot flashes
  • Infertility
  • Night sweats
  • Sudden voice changes
  • Reduced libido or sexual appetite
  • Mood swings or irritability

Types of Amenorrhea

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  1. 1
    Primary Amenorrhea.
    This can occur when a girl never got her menstrual period by the age of 16 and is not pregnant. This could be caused by certain genetic reproductive abnormalities of the organs and hormonal imbalances or defect in the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. This can also happen when there is a narrowing or blockage of the cervix.{
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  2. 2
    Secondary Amenorrhea.
    This happens when a woman has a regular menstruation but then all of the sudden it stops. This type of amenorrhea could start early on or could manifest at a certain age or health condition which may be either temporary or permanent. More so, this refers to the disruption of menstrual period for at least 3 regular monthly cycles or a time-frame that ranges from 3 to 6 months or maybe even for a much longer duration. The only relief is that most causes of this type can be cured.
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Causes of Amenorrhea

  1. 1
    Pregnancy.
    This is certainly one of the most common causes of delayed menstruation in women. If you are a new wife, pregnancy could have been planned and well-anticipated. But, if you are a young teen and still in school, this could be a challenging ordeal for the whole family. Once the egg is fertilized by a sperm, it then attaches into the uterus and progresses for a period of 40 days. No shedding of endometrium occurs with pregnancy as the placenta becomes fully functional as it provides nourishment to the growing fetus in the womb.
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  2. 2
    Weight Gain or Weight Loss.
    In order to have a normal period, you need to have a certain amount of body fat. The fat cells make estrogen, so that you can ovulate and have normal menstruation every month. If you are too thin or overweight, this can cause missed periods and can affect ovulation or a woman's capacity to bear a child. Achieving the right body weight definitely helps not just for aesthetic purposes but for ensuring overall optimum health.
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  3. 3
    Stress.
    This can do crazy things to our body. Women usually experience hair loss, anxiety, mood swings, and can even simultaneously cause an interruption in ovulation which then results in the menstruation cycle coming to a halt.
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  4. 4
    Eating disorders.
    People who suffer from certain eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa tend to have low body weight which creates hormonal imbalance that becomes a setback in ovulation and regular menstrual flow. Certain extreme and ridiculously fast fad dieting techniques can cause hormones to go berserk and cause disruption in menarche flow as well as you life and career balance.
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  5. 5
    Hormonal Imbalance.
    There are different factors that can contribute to hormonal imbalance specifically in a woman's body such as high testosterone levels, low spikes in estrogen levels, presence of tumors or defect of the pituitary gland, and a trouble in the thyroid gland.
    Virtual.marian hormones and pituitary gland.jpg
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  6. 6
    Hormonal Medications.
    An injectable type of birth control called Depo-Provera can cause irregular menstrual period or amenorrhea. Also, certain psychiatric drugs or antidepressants, chemotherapy medications, and corticosteroids can also trigger disruptions in a woman's monthly menstrual period and have been known to cause irregular or missed monthly periods.
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  7. 7
    Extreme Exercises.
    When a woman overdoes it in sports training activities done in a regular patter, they tend to experience missed periods. Women who undergo rigorous sports training or routine workouts may experience disruptions or subsequent interruptions in their menstrual cycle. In fact, most athletes involved in gymnastics or running miss their monthly menstrual periods due to combination of stress, fatigue from too much exertion, and low body fat percentage.
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  8. 8
    Taking oral contraceptive pills.
    Women who are on the pill usually experience periods of amenorrhea or delayed menses due to the hormonal effect of the oral contraceptive or hormonal pills. Regular menstrual cycle would usually resume after 3 months of being off the birth control pills (BCP).
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  9. 9
    Breastfeeding.
    This is recognized and recommended as and effective natural birth control method or what is commonly called lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) which is based on scientific findings that breastfeeding can delay menstruation in most mothers. Breastmilk production or lactation is said to cause amenorrhea which is regarded to be effective especially if you decide to nurse your baby round the clock. This is recommended by most obstetrician-gynecologists for moms who are not yet menstruating and are committed to do exclusive breastfeeding. This prevents new moms from getting pregnant for the first 6 months right after they gave birth.
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  10. 10
    Menopause.
    This is an age-related condition which results to cessation of menarche or amenorrhea. Most women experience menopause when they reach the age of 44 to 54 years old. On the average, women go through the gradual menopausal phase at age 51. It is alarming to note that there are some rare cases wherein women experience early menopause (in their 20's) which can however be reversed or remedied with varied treatment modalities and medications. The menopausal transition does not happen in an instant but one goes through a "perimenopause" or a process that is usually experienced 3 to 5 years before the actual menopause occurs. A woman is considered to be menopause when she has missed at least 12 monthly cycles or equivocal to 1 year of regular monthly menarche cycles.
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What are the Treatments for Amenorrhea?

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In the case of pregnancy, it does not need to be treated. Treatment depends on the underlying reasons that may have caused amenorrhea or disruption of menstrual cycle.

  1. 1
    Try to Manage Your Stress.
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  2. 2
    Eat a Well-Balanced Diet.
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  3. 3
    Maintain an Active and Healthy Lifestyle
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  4. 4
    Hormonal Therapy
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  5. 5
    Stress or Behavioral Modification Therapy
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  6. 6
    Lose Weight.
    (If being overweight is causing it)
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  7. 7
    Gain Weight.
    ( If you are underweight)
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  8. 8
    See Your Physician.
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  9. 9
    Possible Surgery.
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Tips Tricks & Warnings

  • Keep regular appointments for pap smears.
  • Eat a nutritional diet
  • Find ways to relax.

Questions and Answers

What could be possible reasons for delay in my monthly cycle?

Hi, I'm 30 years old, no child and have had a problem with my menstruation since I was 25 years old. I'm currently faced a similar problem; I've missed my period since May 2015 for which I did my pregnancy test, ultra sound and all was negative. I need your help cause I'm really disturbed.

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As you can see in the VisiHow article, there are many causes for delays but one of the biggest factors is stress. Use Red Raspberry Leaf Tea to Regulate Your Menstrual Cycle can jump start your cycle possibly. Use Cinnamon for Menstrual Cramps and Fertility can be used to regulate your hormones. You can even combine the herbal remedies. If you still have a delayed period on a regular basis then you should be examined for PCOS or other hormonal abnormalities such as you could be peri menopausal even at the age of 30.

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Article Info

Categories : Blood Disorder & Issues

Recent edits by: Marian Raquel F. Roncesvalles, Alma, Anonymous

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