A missed period is when menstruation does not occur or does not follow its usual pattern. A gassy stomach may occur at any time. However, when gas or pressure appears in the abdomen at the same time as experiencing a late or missed period, many people think they may be pregnant.
It is normal to occasionally experience a period that is a few days late. However, a missed period is when the cycle completely changes. A missed period may be a sign of pregnancy or another underlying cause.
Early signs of pregnancy can be easy to miss, especially if the person has not been pregnant before. There are some signs that, along with a missed period, may be indicators of pregnancy.
However, every person is different, and each may experience different symptoms. The best way to find the answer is to use an at-home pregnancy test.
In this article, we examine some of the potential causes of a missed period and a gassy stomach.
People may have gas and a missed period in early pregnancy.
It is possible that these symptoms occurring together are early signs of pregnancy. There may also be other early signs of pregnancy alongside these symptoms.
As a study that appears in the journal American Family Physician notes, pregnancy is the first thing that doctors need to rule out if someone has these symptoms.
If a person is not pregnant, the doctor will move on to other possible causes.
The reason for this is that many people experience symptoms such as abdominal gas, along with a missed period, early in their pregnancy.
Other early signs of pregnancy include:
- morning sickness
- sore breasts
- enlarged breasts
- changes in the nipples, such as sore nipples or darkened areolas
- frequent urination
- light cramping
- constipation due to slow digestion
- feeling full after eating very small meals or nothing at all
- implantation bleeding, which is spotting that can occur when the egg implants itself to the uterus
- food cravings or aversions
- changes in vaginal discharge or cervical mucus
People may experience any of these symptoms at any time during pregnancy. Some may experience symptoms just after conception, while others may only notice symptoms a long time after their missed period.
Many of these symptoms are also common in other conditions. The best way to determine whether someone is pregnant is to wait until they can take a pregnancy test.
While most people understand how their period makes them feel, small fluctuations in hormones from issues such as stress may lead to changes in premenstrual syndrome symptoms.
Hormonal changes may make some symptoms worse or cause different symptoms. In some cases, these changes may even alter the course of the menstrual cycle, such as causing a period to come late.
People aged 50 and over who experience a missed period may be entering menopause. This occurs when the ovaries stop releasing eggs and the person has not had a period for at least 12 months.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg does not reach the uterus. It attaches to other areas such as the fallopian tubes, cervix, or abdominal cavity.
While ectopic pregnancy causes similar symptoms to pregnancy early on, it can lead to other more severe symptoms as the pregnancy continues.
Some risk factors may make an ectopic pregnancy more likely. However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists note that about half of all females who experience an ectopic pregnancy have no risk factors.
An ectopic pregnancy needs immediate attention and can be a medical emergency if a person does not seek treatment.
Ovarian cysts and PCOS can cause hormone levels to change.
Ovarian cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that may develop on the ovaries. The ovaries produce eggs and hormones. Ovarian cysts may cause changes in these hormones.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services note that ovarian cysts develop during ovulation, but that these cysts pass on their own before becoming an issue.
Sometimes, however, the cysts do require treatment.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) causes hormone levels to change. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services note that PCOS causes an increase of certain hormones that can cause cysts to grow in the ovaries.
This may increase the risk of a missed period or infertility and cause other changes in overall health.
Stress or anxiety
While it is common to feel stress or anxiety occasionally, having constant stress or anxiety may cause hormonal changes that lead to similar symptoms. Finding ways to balance this stress or relieve anxiety may be helpful.
People with anorexia nervosa may become fixated on losing weight or staying thin. They will typically try to achieve this by reducing their calories or continuously exercising, at risk of harming the overall health of the body.
This may lead to other issues, such as changes in hormones, digestive problems, and missed periods.
While not as common as many other issues, a missed period and a gassy stomach might also be a sign of ovarian cancer. The American Cancer Society suggest that a woman has about a 1 in 78 chance of developing ovarian cancer. The cancer most often appears in older people.
Other disorders may cause similar symptoms. Such disorders include:
- thyroid disease
- endocrine gland disorders
- complications from certain medications, such as antidepressants, blood pressure medications, or opiates
- autoimmune conditions
- congenital disorders
- fragile X-associated primary ovarian insufficiency, wherein the ovaries stop functioning before the normal menopause age
This list is not exhaustive, however. Anyone uncertain about their symptoms should see a doctor.
When to see a doctor
A person should see a doctor if they miss more than two periods.
Sometimes, a slight change in hormones can cause changes in the natural menstrual cycle. This is not typically a cause for concern.
At other times, symptoms such as a missed period and gassy stomach may be signs of a more serious condition that needs treatment.
If symptoms continue or get worse, a person should visit their doctor. Likewise, anyone who misses more than two periods should see a doctor for a diagnosis.
Anyone experiencing the following symptoms, along with signs of ectopic pregnancy or other potentially serious issues, should see a doctor immediately:
- pain in the lower pelvis
- abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as dark-colored blood
- lower back pain
- cramping on one side of the pelvis in particular
- sudden, severe pain in the abdomen or pelvis
- shoulder pain
- dizziness or fainting
- blood in the stools
Anyone who feels that their symptoms are out of the ordinary should see a doctor or seek medical attention.
It is possible that a female who is experiencing a gassy stomach and bloating along with a missed period is pregnant.
However, many things can affect the hormones in the body. Fluctuations in these hormones may cause similar symptoms.
The only way to know for sure is to take a pregnancy test or see a doctor. They will be able to diagnose any underlying condition. If there is an underlying condition, treating it should stop the symptoms.