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When you aren’t trying to conceive, a missed period can be scary. Even when you are trying to conceive, a missed period followed by negative pregnancy tests could make you feel anxious and confused.

If you’re like me, then you probably head straight to the Internet, where 10 minutes of desperate searching confirms that you have a rare illness that will leave you infertile, blind, and crippled…or something like that. This is obviously not healthy behavior and will make you feel more stressed, likely exacerbating the problem! Instead of freaking out, pick up the phone and book an appointment with your gynecologist to understand what’s going on.

woman squeezing a stress ball at her computer

In the meantime, take a deep breath and remember that there are plenty of possible causes for a missed period, most of which are relatively harmless. Here are some common reasons why you may be skipping your period when you aren’t pregnant.

You’ve recently gone off hormonal birth control. When you stop giving your body artificial hormones, it’s common for your period to be irregular — or even stop completely — for several months. Birth control pills offer synthetic estrogen in quantities four times what your body produces naturally. When you stop taking hormonal birth control, your body needs to “remember” how to produce these hormones again. Adding flaxseed and fermented foods to your diet may help regulate your period, as may increasing your daily water intake and adding a magnesium supplement. Cortisol is also an important factor, so settle down and stop stressing to help regulate your body’s hormones. (via Mind Body Green)

You’ve experienced extreme weight loss (or gain). This was the first thing my gynecologist asked when I told her about my amenorrhea (the absence of menstruation). In an interview with Women’s Health, OB-GYN Alyssa Dweck, M.D., explains that a body mass index (BMI) below 19 can affect menstruation, as can being overweight. However, even a rapid gain or loss of just five pounds could change hormone levels. Yet another reason to make sure we keep a healthy weight and avoid yo-yo dieting!

>> Read more: 11 Things that Mess With Your Period

Emotional or physical stress: I’m always amazed by the power that stress has over our physical health. As explained at Everyday Health, “Stress… plays a role in suppressing the functioning of the hypothalamus, which controls the pituitary gland — the body’s master gland — which, in turn, controls the thyroid and adrenal glands and the ovaries.” All of this affects hormone production so, long story short, stress can mess with our bodies in pretty wicked ways. It’s important to learn how to cope with daily stress in a healthy way to avoid these complications.

You exercise excessively, or you’ve drastically increased your intensity. Exercise may be essential to our health, but working out also creates stress on the body. Your body will eventually adjust to your training program and your period should come back. Overtraining is never healthy though, so make sure that your exercise level is appropriate for you and your body. (via Livestrong)

>> Read more: How to Solve Your Period Problems

Illness, travel and breastfeeding can also lead to missed periods.

Your menstrual irregularities likely have an easy fix, but sometimes amenorrhea can be a sign of problems with the pelvic organs or other more serious conditions. If you miss your period for three months or more, a visit to your OB-GYN is a must-do to check on your health.