Missed periods

When a woman misses a period, it might be something to celebrate when the cause is pregnancy. However, a few missed periods with no natural cause can be concerning and might be a sign of an underlying health issue.

It is possible that too much exercise can cause missed periods. However, it is important to understand why this happens, and not to ignore it, especially when you are planning to get pregnant.

Here we look at one cause of missed periods, functional hypothalamic amenorrhea (FHA) – and how this can affect a woman’s reproductive health.

What is Amenorrhea?

The absence of a period is referred to as amenorrhea and this is perfectly normal during pregnancy, breastfeeding and throughout menopause however, some women do experience this for pathological reasons.

Amenorrhea can be split into two main categories: primary and secondary amenorrhea. Primary amenorrhea is when a female fails to start their period by the age of 16. Whereas secondary amenorrhea refers to when a woman has missed at least three periods without a natural cause. It is estimated that secondary amenorrhea affects around 3-5% of women.

Can Periods Stop Because Of Too Much Exercise?

One of the most common forms of secondary amenorrhea is
functional hypothalamic amenorrhea (FHA) which is a reversible hormone imbalance where bleeding stops. This can be stress-related, weight loss-related and sometimes it is caused by excessive exercise. This can influence a woman’s reproductive health.

External link: Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea and its influence on women’s health (nih.gov)

It is often thought that in the case of excessive exercise that only elite athletes can have this condition – but home or work-related stress can also contribute.

How Are Missed Periods Linked to Infertility?

When the body is experiencing stress, the hypothalamus in the brain becomes idle which then stops the production of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). It is this hormone that usually signals the ovaries to produce oestrogen. Without these correct signals, the body reproductive system does not prepare for ovulation and therefore is unable to successfully conceive.

These hormone changes mean that a woman with FHA can suffer from other health problems, affecting the skeletal system, cardiovascular system, and mental health. Therefore, it is important that if your periods have stopped, that you seek a diagnosis from a professional so that you can discuss treatment options and prevent long-term health issues.

Speak to a Professional

If you are concerned about missed periods, get in touch to book a consultation with one of our specialist gynaecologists. They will be able to assess you and identify any causes of stopped or delayed bleeding.

After a tailored consultation, a gynaecological scan may be carried out to help determine the cause for concern. Get in touch today to find out more information.