When it comes to menstruation, it’s not a topic that generally brings about pleasant memories. The cramps, bloating, and other discomforts associated with periods can be quite bothersome. But what if your periods are not showing up on a monthly basis? While it doesn’t always mean you’re pregnant, a delay in menstruation can be a sign of underlying health issues that should not be ignored.
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Taking care of your menstrual health is important, and paying attention to the regularity of your menstrual cycle can help ensure overall well-being. If you are experiencing a delay in menstruation, it’s advisable to consult with a doctor. Health Shots spoke with Dr Shefali Tyagi, a Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecology specialist at Motherhood Hospitals in Sarjapur, Bengaluru, to gain more insights into the reasons behind this occurrence.
When should your menstruation start?
According to Dr Tyagi, if you are in good health and do not have underlying conditions that could affect your menstrual cycle, your period “should normally begin within 21 to 35 days of your last period.” However, some women who haven’t reached menopause yet may experience their periods approximately every 28 days.
Variations in your menstruation cycle can happen due to several factors
A delay in menstruation might be a cause for concern. Dr Tyagi shared a list of mental and physical factors that could contribute to this delay:
1. Excess Stress
According to the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, two to five percent of childbearing women experience menstrual irregularities, and this number is significantly higher among women under constant stress during their cycle.
2. Being underweight
Maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) is crucial for menstrual cycle regularity. Girls and women should be provided with a well-balanced diet to ensure a normal BMI and regulate their menstrual cycle, as stated by the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care.
In addition to the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hyperlipidemia, and rectal carcinoma, obese women are also at an increased risk of experiencing menstrual dysfunction, as reported by the National Library of Medicine.
4. Birth control pills
Taking birth control pills can delay or prevent your period voluntarily. Extended or continuous use of combined estrogen-progestin birth control pills can suppress menstruation, according to Mayo Clinic.
5. Chronic diseases
Uncontrolled diabetes and other chronic diseases can cause irregular periods. The interaction between blood sugar levels and hormones can be disrupted, affecting your menstrual cycle, according to Penn Medicine.
6. Premature ovarian insufficiency
Also known as primary ovarian insufficiency, this condition refers to the dysfunction of ovarian follicles with the cessation of menses before the age of 40 years, as stated by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
7. Thyroid issues
Thyroid dysfunction is a significant cause of menstrual abnormalities. Evaluating thyroid function should be done for women with menstrual disorders to avoid unnecessary interventions like hysterectomy, as recommended by the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of India.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is characterized by imbalanced sex hormones, which can disrupt your regular menstruation, as reported by Penn Medicine.
If you experience symptoms such as heavy bleeding, fever, severe pain, nausea, vomiting, or bleeding for more than seven days, it is important to consult a doctor. Dr Tyagi advises seeking immediate medical attention if six weeks have passed without any bleeding.
Lifestyle plays a role in the delay of menstruation
The way we live our lives has a significant impact on our overall health, including our menstrual cycle. Dr Tyagi highlights that being underweight or obese can cause irregular periods as these conditions can affect ovulation and the regularity of the menstrual cycle. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you not only avoid such circumstances, but you also protect yourself against diseases that can disrupt your body’s healthy functions.
Ways to ensure healthy periods
Dr Tyagi suggests that the best way to ensure healthy periods is by maintaining a good diet and exercise regimen. A healthy lifestyle can protect you against various diseases and help regulate your menstrual cycle. Additionally, practicing stress reduction and relaxation techniques can be beneficial. In some cases, health experts may prescribe hormonal pills to regulate sex hormones and maintain a healthy menstrual cycle.
Remember, a delay in menstruation can be a sign of an underlying health issue, so it’s important to listen to your body and seek medical advice when needed. Prioritizing your menstrual health is essential for overall well-being.