Health Issues and Medications That Cause Irregular Menstrual Cycles

Many prescription medications (eg, antidepressants) and health issues (eg, thyroid problems) can cause irregular menstrual cycles.

This overview of a few health problems and medicines that can affect menstruation are from Dr Rebecca Booth’s The Venus Week: Discover the Powerful Secret of Your Cycle…at Any Age.

“Many women may not realize the degree to which health conditions can affect reproductive health,” writes Dr Rebecca Booth in The Venus Week. “For example, Juvenile (Type 1) diabetic women tend to reach menopause as many as seven years earlier than their nondiabetic sisters.”

That’s how diabetes can cause irregular menstrual cycles (or stop them altogether). In her book, Dr Booth describes most aspects of the menstrual cycle in clear, easy to understand language.

Skipped or missed periods can make it more difficult to get pregnant – and beyond that, an irregular menstrual cycle is annoying and disruptive to daily life!

Here’s a summary of some health problems and prescription medications that can disrupt your menstrual cycle.

Health Issues and Medications That Cause Irregular Menstrual Cycles

Thyroid problems can cause skipped or missed periods if the thyroid gland is out of balance. “An underactive thyroid has a strong negative effect on ovulation, so thyroid replacement can be a corrector in this scenario,” writes Dr Booth. “An overactive thyroid can also inhibit ovulation, and affect fertility.” She recommends checking prescription medications if you have thyroid disease – especially if you’re trying to get pregnant.

Prolactin increasing medications can increase the hormone prolactin, which is responsible for maintaining breast milk production. Prolactin tends to suppress ovulation which is why nursing mothers skip their periods. Prescription medications that increase prolactin include anti-anxiety medications in the diazepam family, tricyclic antidepressants, some blood pressure medications, and narcotics. Dr Booth recommends checking prolactin levels with blood work.

To make your menstrual cycle regular, you need to see a doctor in person.

Cancer suppressing drugs such as tamoxifen, Evista, and Femara can suppress ovulation and cause irregular menstrual cycles. “Of course, this suppression may be vital and life-saving to women fighting certain cancers,” says Dr Booth. “Always work with your doctor to fully understand your goals with these medications.

Chemotherapy or radiation can shorten the life of the ovary. Evidently, most cancer specialists try to shield radiation from the ovaries; chemotherapy can increase the risk of early onset menopause and shorten the ovarian lifespan. If you want to get pregnant and you’re a cancer survivor, you might find How Ovarian Transplants Work for Infertile Women helpful.

Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or other uterine surgery can leave the ovaries intact. If the ovaries remain intact, then normal hormones and blood flow will eventually return (it takes time for circulation and regular menstrual cycles to be restored). According to Dr Booth, hysterectomies and other uterine surgeries don’t appear to affect early menopause significantly, though the effects may vary from woman to woman.

Premature ovarian failure affects as many as 1% of women – it’s the onset of menopause or the loss of ovulation before age 40. The cause is unknown, but it can affect ovulation and the menstrual cycle. A diagnosis of premature ovarian failure is very difficult, because symptoms start before menstruation actually stops, and blood work may not show evidence of ovarian failure until the ovary has almost completely stopped functioning. Women with premature ovarian failure who want to get pregnant may have to go with fertility treatments or assisted reproductive techniques.

“Although women are strong, resilient, and can bounce back from many health setbacks, in some ways, it doesn’t take much to interrupt your Venus,” writes Dr Booth in The Venus Week: Discover the Powerful Secret of Your Cycle…at Any Age. “The best way to avoid any threat – temporary or otherwise – to the wonderful gift of your Venus Week is to take care of yourself, and that starts with being proactive about your health.”

For help with irregular menstrual cycles, read 8 Natural Ways to Regulate Your Period.

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10 thoughts on “Health Issues and Medications That Cause Irregular Menstrual Cycles”

  1. Hi Amber,

    Yes, I think drugs can definitely affect your hormone levels and cause irregular menstrual cycles. So can stress, lack of sleep, and even the foods you eat.

    Hold on until your doctor’s appointment, so you can learn more! I know how scary it is to have to wait, but you have to wait. Try to relax and not worry…just take a deep breath, and trust that things will unfold the way they’re supposed to.

    I know this is all easier said than done….but you have to try to de-stress so your body has a chance to breathe and be healthy.

  2. It has been 51 days since my last period. My normal cycle averages 33 – 35 days, meaning I am about 16 days late. I am never that late. I have been taking rabeprazole ec 20mg as well as teva – ketorolac 10 mg for the last 21 days. 2 days ago I took a pregnancy test that came out negative. I have been feeling slight nausea as well as headache, exhaustion, and a few other pregnancy symptoms. I know that some of these can be side effects from the meds but my question is this: Could these drugs be causing my period to be so late? I do have a dr appointment late next week but I need to know now! Thankyou

  3. I have been trying to get a period but can’t since I started Humalog, insulin,being pure estrogen, do I stop my shot for a week so I can start?

    I cannot do dairy or b because of allergies- I exercise like a fiend, and Never eat carbo’s- just live on meat-

    oh, guss what- I’m extremely bumpy and not that fat looking- just bloaty-

    When, how? Please email me!

  4. Dear Melanie,

    I’m not a doctor, I’m just a writer who specializes in health and wellness topics! Even if I was a doctor, I couldn’t give you medical advice over the internet. You need an in-person medical exam to find the exact cause of your skipped period.

    That said, however, I do know that prescription medications can affect menstrual cycles. Since you’re get irregular periods already, I would think that it’s just another delay — especially since your pregnancy tests are negative!

    Have you researched how Amoxicillin affects hormones and menstruation? I suspect your body is reacting to that medication, and you’ll get your period after your body adjusts to the meds.

    That’s just my two cents, though — to get medical advice, you really should see your doctor in person!


  5. Dear Dr;
    I have missed my period for about 8-9 days now, and I have taken 4 pregnancy tests- all resulting a clear and quick negative. The Tuesday before I was “scheduled” to start my period I went to the pediatric for a sinus infection, and was perscribed Amoxicillin. Since then I haven’t had any signs of pregnancy. Usually when I am about to start my period my breast get tender by touch, which they are. I have had irregular periods since I started.

  6. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thank you, Dr Olaitan — I appreciate your taking the time to comment, and am glad you found this website helpful for reproductive health matters.

  7. Dr. OLAITAN, O. 'Lanre

    I personally want to thank you for this wonderful information. This would in no small measure help to improve the phobia of some people about their health.Many are conscious of their health and wellbeing. It is my opinion that people will take advantage of this to better improve their health and have rest of mind on activity level in relation to their reproductive health matters.
    I appreciate this a lot as a specialist in reproductive health.
    Dr. O.’Lanre OLAITAN

  8. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for this information — I appreciate your taking the time to comment!

    Sometimes figuring out the exact cause of irregular periods is difficult, but it would help immensely if we lived as cleanly as possible (including avoiding harmful plastics and taking prescription medications only when absolutely necessary).

  9. While medications and illness can affect ovulation, it is also important to consider the importance of pollutants in our food and water. Many chemicals like Bisphenol A from plastic water bottles are known to mimic hormones and alter hormone levels in our bodies. Given the complexity of the reproductive process, these external factors are also very important.