Although a woman’s average menstrual cycle is 28 days, it is normal to have a cycle that is between 21 and 35 days. A cycle can also change due to hormonal changes caused by age, certain medical conditions and lifestyle factors. This does not necessarily mean there is an underlying serious problem. Even so, changes and irregularities in a woman’s menstrual cycle needs to be observed, especially when her period suddenly stops.
The most common cause for missing periods is pregnancy. Sexually active women who experience delays in their period can do a home pregnancy test to find out, using a pregnancy test kit that can be purchased at a pharmacy. The most common type of pregnancy test kit is one which uses a test strip or dipstick to detect the presence of a pregnancy hormone, called the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in urine samples. When the kit is used exactly as instructed, a home pregnancy test has more than 99% accuracy, similar to results of a urine test in a doctor’s office. However, if done too early into the pregnancy, there may be insufficient hCG in the urine to be detected. Check the details on the package of the pregnancy kit for the best time to take a test.
Should you be worried?
If you have been on birth control, changes in your menstrual cycle, and even skipping a period or two, is normal. But if you are not pregnant and on taking contraceptives, there may be other factors that could be responsible for your period stopping, including:
- Prolonged emotional stress
- Physical stress from extreme exercising or crash dieting
- Unexplained drastic weight loss or weight gain Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS); a common endocrine system disorder among women of reproductive age, characterised by enlarged ovaries that contain small collections of fluids.
- Medical problems that causes hormonal imbalances, such as thyroid problems and celiac disease
- Recently stopped use of birth control
- Early menopause
Changes to your cycle can be a harmless short-term condition, or it can be a sign of a more serious health issue. Whatever the case may be, missed periods are not to be taken lightly. So, consider making an appointment with a gynaecologist to set your mind at ease.
Mayo Clinic. Available at www.mayoclinic.org
WebMD. Available at www.webmd.com
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