Thumbnail image of: Female Pelvis: Illustration

Missed Menstrual Periods: Brief Version

What is a missed period?

Normally women start having menstrual periods by the age of 15. Then, unless they are pregnant or breast-feeding, they keep having a period every month until they reach menopause, usually in their 50s.

Not having periods, or missing periods, can mean 2 things:

  • You have not had a period at all by the time you are 15 years old.
  • You have had regular periods and then stop having them.

What is the cause?

If you have never had a period:

If you have never had periods, you may have late puberty. This may happen if you are very thin or very athletic. Or you may have a hormone problem or birth defect.

If you’ve had periods before:

A missed period may be caused by:

  • Pregnancy
  • Breast-feeding
  • Some types of birth control
  • Menopause

Your periods could stop because:

  • You have a lot of stress.
  • You exercise a lot and are very thin.
  • You have thyroid problems.
  • You have a problem with your uterus.
  • You take some kinds of medicine.
  • Your uterus has been taken out by surgery.

How is it treated?

Treatment depends on what is causing the problem. You may not need treatment. Or:

  • You may need to exercise less.
  • You may need to take hormone medicine, like birth control pills.
  • You may need surgery.

How can I take care of myself?

If your periods don’t come every month, keep a record of them. Write down:

  • The dates that they start
  • How long they last
  • How heavy the flow is
  • Problems you may have with them

Try to find out if any woman in your family has had a problem like yours.

If you miss more than 2 periods in a row, see your healthcare provider. Follow your provider’s advice.

How can I help prevent missing a period?

To keep your periods normal, take care of your health:

  • Eat healthy foods. Keep a healthy weight.
  • Exercise the way your provider says you should.
  • Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Learn ways to manage stress.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-08-25
Last reviewed: 2014-08-22
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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