I never thought I'd yearn for Aunt Flo so much...
August 24, 2011 7:03 PM   Subscribe

Due to stress, my period has disappeared. I'm caught in seemingly neverending PMS. Is there any way I can summon my period back? Or at least mitigate the symptoms of fatigue, hunger and feeling so emotional?

I'm in the final stages of planning a wedding, and I guess it's been stressing me out more than I realized. My period was due over two weeks ago (I'm fairly regular with an extra long cycle - anywhere between 32 and 35 days) and it still hasn't come. After three negative pregnancy tests, I'm fairly sure it's just the looming matrimony.

In any case, I have wicked, interminable PMS. Low sex drive, sensitive boobs, acne, increased hunger, emotions on overdrive, the whole shebang. I'm not on hormonal birth control, and don't intend to start it so close to the wedding.


-Can I, like, summon my period? Is that even possible?
-I've gained about 4lbs since August 1st. I typically don't worry about a little PMS-related weight gain because I inevitably drop it all as soon as my period starts, but of course, this stupid wedding crap has me paranoid that I'm getting fatter instead of just bloating. Could that be the case?
-Is it even remotely possible I'm actually pregnant? Three negative pregnancy tests taken first thing in the morning can't be wrong, can they?

I will do my best to deal with the stress by taking time off from wedding planning craziness, but assuming I'm going to be more stressed than usual during the time leading up to the big day, how can I mitigate these weird symptoms?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's definitely possible that the pee sticks you're using are faulty, especially if they came out of the same batch/box. If you haven't already, buy a different brand of pregnancy test, and look for one that is ultra-sensitive.
posted by devinemissk at 7:13 PM on August 24, 2011

I think you should see a doctor. 1) You can get a pregnancy test done to make absolutely 100% for certain that you're not pregnant, and 2) you can discuss these symptoms that you're having (no period, weight gain, low sex drive, hunger, etc, etc) to make sure that they're not being caused by something other than stress (e.g. a medical condition). Even if it is "just" stress, it seems to be hitting you rather hard. How's your blood pressure?

You should also do whatever you can to caaaaalm down. What are your normal stress relievers? Maybe schedule a session with a massage therapist. Ask your fiance and family members to take on some of the wedding planning responsibilities. Has your diet changed recently? For instance, are you eating takeout more because you're so busy? That could be affecting your menstrual cycle, too. Make sure you're eating well (that means healthy foods and enough food).

But yeah, doctor. This is when I would go see a doctor.
posted by phunniemee at 7:14 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm voting for seeing a doctor too.

It is possible you're pregnant. It is possible that it's just the stress.

For me whenever stress stopped my period it was accompanied by weight loss, not gain.

Even if it is the stress, your doc will be the one to help you with ways of getting things back on track. Maybe you could just take the pill for two cycles to get things back in sync.
posted by TooFewShoes at 7:28 PM on August 24, 2011

Doctor. And make her do a blood test on you, not a pee test. I had a false negative pee test at the dr. once just because it was really early in my pregnancy and the test couldn't pick up the HcG yet.
posted by vignettist at 7:42 PM on August 24, 2011

Yep, see a doctor. It is very possible it is just stress, but some of your other symptoms (weight gain, bad PMS, acne, emotional, hunger) make me think you may have PCOS. I have it, that's why those symptoms pop out - they are some of the typical PCOS symptoms. Those things can also be related to stress, though, so don't freak out or anything. Just get to a doctor and get checked out. Knowing what's going on will certainly make you feel better. If the doctor doesn't know what PCOS is, try getting an appointment with an endocrinologist or gynecologist if your symptoms don't go away or subside after your stress dissipates. Best of luck with your future nuptials! Marriage is awesome.
posted by susanaudrey at 7:43 PM on August 24, 2011

I would very much doubt that you are pregnant, just to answer the concern the other posters are raising here, you say that it's two weeks after your period was due, and most regular over the counter pregnancy tests are 99.9% accurate at that point, as long as you're not drinking gallons of fluid and diluting your urine or something.

I was just reading an article that says that in research studies, people who have lost their periods secondary to stress can get them back with therapy (cognitive behavioral therapy to be specific). So that's a suggestion...
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:46 PM on August 24, 2011

Parsley tea, babe. Works for me.
posted by Marinara at 7:47 PM on August 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

See a doctor. Amongst other things, they can give you a very short-term prescription to "jump start" your period, and (obviously) tell you if you're pregnant or not.
posted by SMPA at 7:58 PM on August 24, 2011

I have had success with massage to trigger the start of my period. I have a good massage therapist who knows how to do such things but it's rarely a pleasant or relaxing massage (it hurts!). Maybe call around and ask at some spas or use Yelp to find a good massage therapist. Massage couldn't hurt your general stress level, either.
posted by dchrssyr at 7:59 PM on August 24, 2011

I know you said your sex drive was low but sex has a tendency to trigger my period, too.
posted by dchrssyr at 8:01 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ugh. Wedding planning sucks. I feel for you.

It's unlikely that you're pregnant, but if it will give you peace of mind, go to the doctor and get a test and an examination. If you're not pregnant, then it's probably either stress (which is not nothing) or something that can wait until after your honeymoon--PCOS could be the culprit, although I believe that usually manifests as super-heavy periods, not amenorrhea. But even if it is PCOS, it's usually not an emergency--you can wait a few weeks or months before you begin treatment. IANAD, though.

Regardless, take a day off to get a massage, spend an hour somewhere beautiful, exercise yourself into exhaustion, watch some mindless TV or a movie, unload to a caring friend, and go to bed early. If you are having trouble sleeping, pop a couple of benadryl to knock yourself out, or see if your healthcare provider can prescribe something to get you through the next couple of weeks (this is not an inappropriate, drug-seeking thing to do). Write down everything you need to do so you don't have to worry about it on your day off. If something occurs to you while you're relaxing, write it down so you can think about it later. Maybe after a day or two of decompression, your period will return. Or maybe it won't. If you miss a full cycle, definitely see your doctor, but again, don't panic.

In the short term, don't necessarily try to fight the cravings, but I find that going no-carb for breakfast and lunch does help with the need for sweets. If that's too much to handle (On my bad stress days, I eat nothing but coffee and peanut m&ms), indulge the need for chips and chocolate but be sure to get a big, delicious salad with lots of flavors in for lunch. Go for the creamy dressing and cheese and bacon bits, but make sure it's big and has some protein, something sweet, something crunchy (This time of year, you can't go wrong with corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches, which are underrated as a salad component, or grapes, and a creamy dressing). Salads are not dense--by the time you finish eating it, you'll be full. You might be unsatisfied for a few days, but it'll get easier.

You might also want to try some meditation and/or yoga. It doesn't have to be a religious practice (it isn't for me) but I find that it's helped me to learn how to acknowledge my worries without feeling compelled to act on them RIGHT THIS SECOND OR EVERYTHING WILL FALL APART. That is itself an incredible stress reducer.

Here are some good instructions from Sam Harris's blog--

Meditation Instructions

Sit comfortably, with your spine erect, either in chair or cross-legged on a cushion.

Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and feel the points of contact between your body and the chair or floor. Notice the sensations associated with sitting—feelings of pressure, warmth, tingling, vibration, etc.

Gradually become aware of the process of breathing. Pay attention to wherever you feel the breath most clearly—either at the nostrils, or in the rising and falling your abdomen.

Allow your attention to rest in the mere sensation of breathing. (There is no need to control your breath. Just let it come and go naturally.)

Every time your mind wanders in thought, gently return it to the sensation of breathing.

As you focus on the breath, you will notice that other perceptions and sensations continue to appear: sounds, feelings in the body, emotions, etc. Simply notice these phenomena as they emerge in the field of awareness, and then return to the sensation of breathing.

The moment you observe that you have been lost in thought, notice the present thought itself as an object of consciousness. Then return your attention to the breath—or to whatever sounds or sensations arise in the next moment.

Continue in this way until you can merely witness all objects of consciousness—sights, sounds, sensations, emotions, and even thoughts themselves—as they arise and pass away.
posted by thinkingwoman at 8:10 PM on August 24, 2011

It is entirely possible that you are pregnant. I have read that some women have low enough HcG levels that they don't register on home pregnancy tests until they are quite late. After all, note that the box of pee sticks says something like "99% accurate when testing from the day your period is due". Someone's gotta be the other 1%, which I'm pretty sure is all false negatives rather than false positives.

Go get a blood test.
posted by kestrel251 at 8:45 PM on August 24, 2011

This can be fixed with provera. See your GYN.
posted by noonday at 9:06 PM on August 24, 2011

In Taking Charge of Your Fertility (a tome I trust to be evidence-based and factual) the author claims that a period being late because of stress isn't a real thing - what stress can actually delay is ovulation. But your luteal phase (the phase between ovulation and onset of menstruation) is supposed to be basically the same length from cycle to cycle. I don't know if it makes much difference to your subjective experience of crappiness, but is it possible that what you're interpreting as PMS is actually your stressed-out body's attempts to ovulate?

Do you know how to check your cervical fluid and cervical position? Those can give you some clues as to where in your cycle you are.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:24 PM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Do you know how to check your cervical fluid and cervical position?

I bet I know someone who COULD check your cervical fluid and position ... A DOCTOR!
posted by incessant at 10:22 PM on August 24, 2011

Out of left field probably, but an acupuncture session [and I hate acupuncture sessions] brought my period back from what I thought was peri-menopause. I'm back on track now. FWIW - and you don't mention your age - I had your exact symptoms at the start of all this what-I-thought-was menopause malarkey and I'm relatively young. Not to be alarmist etc. It's probably stress - that's what my acupuncturist told me. Almost the same day as the session, everything started up again.
posted by honey-barbara at 5:14 AM on August 25, 2011

Parsley tea + vitamin C started my period in just over 24 hours when I was several weeks late (but definitely not pregnant).

It's also possible that you're pregnant and the tests just aren't showing it yet. I didn't test positive until nearly 4 weeks with either of my pregnancies.
posted by belladonna at 6:16 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

nthing test w/a doc, just to be sure. but 2nding honey-barbara.

i started seeing an acupuncturist for other health reasons, and she was the first person to tell me i had major hormonal probs. based on my pulses and my tongue. uh, okay, whatever.

i'd seen scores of docs, and none of them had mentioned hormones as a possible contributor to my health probs. i hadn't told anyone at the time (and not the acupuncturist either) that i had suicidal PMS one day a month. (later i saw an endocrinologist and she found a growth on my pituitary and some other deficiencies. the acupuncturist was right--i have hormonal probs.)

once i started acupuncture, the PMS went away completely, and stayed away. previous to that, it had happened monthly, like clockwork, for about 2 years.

acupuncture helps with stress too, so even if it doesn't seem to do anything that dramatic, it's great to mellow you out.
posted by JBD at 9:42 AM on August 25, 2011

You might have raised prolactin (a hormone) which is effecting your period (not a life threatening or urgent condition). A simple blood test can show this. If it doesn't resolve on it's own (prolactin can be raised by stress. I'd recheck after the wedding), it can be dealt with through medication.
posted by mirileh at 1:21 PM on August 26, 2011

Could it be you have low iron?
My period nearly disappeared when my iron levels dropped (I had blood serum level of 33 mcg/dL I think??). It happened gradually, over several months - I felt pretty normal otherwise except a little tired (like you would getting over a cold or in allergy season). Solved by taking iron supplements for a few months.
posted by SarahbytheSea at 6:23 PM on August 28, 2011

« Older Home/mortgage shopping: Any recommendations ofr...   |   There's a lot of Kevin Smith interviews... I need... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.