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Can Eating Badly Make You Skip Your Period?

by
author image Sara Ipatenco
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.
Can Eating Badly Make You Skip Your Period?
A woman is on a long distance run. Photo Credit Dirima/iStock/Getty Images

Your monthly period is a signal that you're not pregnant, since bleeding occurs as a result of you shedding your uterine lining. You don't need your uterine lining if a fertilized egg has not implanted on the wall of your uterus. A skipped period can cause you to feel angst if you suspect that you might have an unplanned pregnancy. If, however, you know that there is no way you could be pregnant, looking at other areas of your life, including your diet, might reveal the clues you need to determine what's going on.

Amenorrhea Explained

Amenorrhea is simply defined as the absence of your period. Primary amenorrhea occurs when a girl reaches age 16 without starting to menstruate, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Primary amenorrhea affects 1 percent of women, the Columbia Health website notes. Secondary amenorrhea occurs after a girl has started menstruating and occurs when a woman doesn't have a period for six months or longer. In a large number of cases, pregnancy or breastfeeding explains the absence of a normal monthly period, but numerous other causes exist that can interfere with normal menstruation, too.

Amenorrhea and Your Eating Habits

Like any other bodily system, the reproductive system relies on certain nutrients to function properly. If the reproductive system doesn't get those nutrients, it can interfere with normal function. A poor diet is one explanation of secondary amenorrhea, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Obesity is another cause of amenorrhea, and poor nutrition can lead to obesity if a woman consumes too many calories without burning them off.

Amenorrhea and Extreme Diets

The Columbia Health website reports that amenorrhea can also occur if you're underweight, which can happen if you're not eating enough or not eating the right foods. Suddenly losing a large amount of weight can also interfere with your normal monthly cycle, the MedlinePlus website notes. If you're drastically restricting your intake of food, you can lose so much weight that you no longer have a period. Not eating enough food also results in potential nutritional deficiencies, which can be another potential cause of skipped periods. Though not related to your eating habits, extreme exercise that results in significant weight loss can also contribute to skipped periods.

What to Do Next

If you've missed your period two or three consecutive times and you know you aren't pregnant, make an appointment with your doctor. Your physician can ask the right questions and run a few tests to determine the cause of your stopped periods. If it's diet related, your doctor might give you advice about improving your diet or may refer you to a dietician who can help you create a healthy eating plan to ensure that you're getting all the nutrients you need. Your doctor will also be able to help you lose or gain weight, because a normal weight is key to having regular monthly periods. In the meantime, add fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat and whole grains to your diet while also eliminating sugary foods, fatty foods and fast food.

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