If you've ever missed a period (and know for a fact you're not pregnant), it can be a real source of stress – but, it turns out, it's not all that uncommon and there are a number of different lifestyle factors at play, from your what you're eating to how much you're exercising.
The topic is one that was recently addressed by TikTok account Medicine Explained (created by two fourth year medicine students, Amanda d’Almeida and Dan Villavecer, to make health information more accessible for all) in a clip called 'Why am I not getting my period?'.
In the video, which has since been viewed over 240,000 times, the experts explain that what you eat can have a direct impact on your period, saying, "Exercising too much, eating too little or being stressed can cause less GnRH [Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone] to pulse, which affect our periods. Like them being irregular or not having any."
The latter of which – halting menstruation entirely – is referred to in medical terms as 'amenorrhea'.
According to the NHS, severely restricting the number of calories you eat can stop the production of hormones needed for ovulation, which in turn causes your period to be absent. It also adds that losing too much body fat through intense exercise can stop you ovulating too.
It also lists other common reasons as:
sudden weight loss
taking the contraceptive pill
polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
In its video, Medicine Explained continued on to say that having a calorie restricted diet and no period can also be known as 'the female athlete triad'.
"The female athlete triad is a combination of amenorrhea, or missing periods, disordered eating and bone loss," it says. "This bone loss could lead to fractures."
As with all body-related concerns, if you have any issues at all, it's always best to speak with your GP about them (the NHS advises contacting your doctor if you've missed three or more periods, but if something is causing you to feel anxious, then it's always worth calling sooner).
Equally, if disordered eating, or obsessive calorie restriction/counting, is something that you're worried about, it can also be a really positive step to reach out to a supportive organisation, such as Beat (the leading eating disorder charity).
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