Absent periods 

Introduction 

Menstrual cycle: animation

This animation explains in detail how the menstrual cycle works.

Media last reviewed: 21/02/2013

Next review due: 21/02/2015

The menstrual cycle

Periods are part of the menstrual cycle, which usually starts around the time a girl is 12 years old (but it can be earlier or later than this).

Roughly every 28 days, a woman’s ovaries will release eggs (as long as she has not gone through the menopause). This is known as ovulation.

The lining of the womb will thicken to prepare for the eggs. If the eggs are not fertilised by sperm, this thickened lining will break down, resulting in bleeding from the vagina. This is a period.

Having absent periods either means you have stopped having periods or haven’t started them by the time you are 14-16 years old.

The medical name for absent periods is amenorrhoea.

In many cases, absent periods are not a cause for concern because some girls simply start having periods later than usual and it is normal for your periods to stop at certain points.

For example, your periods will stop while you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or after the menopause. Some types of contraception can also cause you to temporarily stop having periods.

However, absent periods can sometimes be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as:

  • polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a condition which can mean your ovaries do not regularly release an egg (ovulate)
  • hypothalamic amenorrhoea – where the part of the brain that regulates the menstrual cycle stops working properly (thought to be triggered by excessive exercise, excessive weight loss and stress)
  • hyperprolactinaemia – where a person has abnormally high levels of a hormone called prolactin in their blood
  • premature ovarian failure – where the ovaries stop working properly in women who have not yet reached the age of natural menopause (usually from 50 years of age)

Read more about the causes of absent periods.

When to seek medical advice

You should see your GP if you're worried about any problems with your periods, so they can try to determine the cause.

Depending on what your GP thinks may be causing your absent periods, you may be referred to a specialist for further investigation and any necessary treatment.

Read more about diagnosing absent periods.

Who is affected

Stopping having periods after previously having them, known as secondary amenorrhoea, is relatively common - it's estimated to affect around 1 in 25 women at some point in their lives.

It is more common in teenage girls and younger women, and can be much more common in certain groups, such as professional athletes, dancers and gymnasts.

Not starting your periods by the expected age, known as primary amenorrhoea, is much less common. It's estimated to affect 1 in every 300 girls and women.

How absent periods are treated

The treatment for absent periods will depend on the cause.

For example, PCOS can often be controlled using hormonal treatments, and women with hypothalamic amenorrhoea will often start to have regular periods if they cut down on exercise and reach a healthy weight.

In some cases, your doctors may recommend waiting to see if your periods return or start on their own.

Sometimes your periods cannot be restored with treatment, as is usually the case with absent periods caused by premature ovarian failure.

Read more about treating absent periods.

Page last reviewed: 20/09/2013

Next review due: 20/09/2015

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Comments

The 27 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

staceylee1979 said on 19 October 2014

After I had my only child 14 years ago, I had 1 or 2 periods but then they completely stopped for almost ten years. When I finally took my period again, it was irregular as it always was in the past.
After about a year and a half, I gained a few stone in weight and my periods stopped again. That was a few years ago now. I'm going to see my G.P as I need to get myself checked. I think I have B.V again but I haven't had sex in 3 years so I don't see how it can be an STI. I've only had one sexual partner since my last check up at the clinic around 7 or so years ago. Although we didn't use protection, I'd be extremely surprised if I had caught something. I'm not complaining about not getting my period bcoz it affects me really badly. The cramps, tiredness, mood swings and the rest. No thanks

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abi743 said on 01 October 2014

Hey. I am 24 years old and have been on the pill since 16. I stopped around Sept last year as hope to try fora baby with my partner. I have always been regular without the pill but in Jan this year my periods stopped. I have had tests for pcos Tec and they can see anything wrong. I had a period in July and an a kite spotted in in Aug but now nothing again!!! Can any1 please help me in what I said do?

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bugzsplatter17 said on 27 September 2014

I'm 17 years old , and i started the mini pill in march this year , i had one period and now they have stopped altogether. I have been taking the pill everyday without a seven day gap , would this be the cause of my periods completely stopping . I get all of the signs for a period and nothing happens .

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Brookesalisha said on 22 September 2014

I'm 15 years old and I've got a question about my period and if I get anyone's help I would really appreciate it. Basically I had my first ever period on June 20th and lasted until 27th June but then I didn't have one until two months after on the 15th August until the 22nd August but I haven't had one since? What happens now, my younger 13 year old sister has started hers and hers is completely normal and she has one every month, I'm older but haven't officially started it I suppose. I'm just really confused can someone help me please, what's going on?

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Sarah carter 1993 said on 03 August 2014

I had my last period on the 20th of June 2014 and it stopped five days later I then waited until the 20th of July expecting that my period would start as it usually does it's now been 39 days since my last period but I'm not pregnant as I've done tests and they have all come back negative so I'm going to book myself in at the doctors to see what they say about it, but before I strongly advise that nobody has the contraceptive Implant as it made me have a period that lasted for four years without stopping it was the worst ever period that I've had, I'm now worried about what after effects it has had on my womb.

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xo said on 20 April 2014

I am 16 years old, I had my first period February 1st this year and was on for 10 days on my second period 1st march I had brown discharge which I had for the first day and had nothing since ,
I took 2 pregnancy tests and they have both come back negative I am 50 days late from my period
What could this be? Or it it normal? As I started my period late and my body hasn't adjusted yet?

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Georgina18 said on 17 February 2014

Hi I'm 18 I haven't had a period in 4-5 months now I still keep having my clear discharge to say I'm ovulation which I find odd! I'm worried because I no I'm not pregnant I've done 4 test which all came back negative, is this normal?

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April Dean said on 11 January 2014

Hello im 18 years old and it's been 3 months since i had my last period which was in October last year. Im not on any medications and i dont feel any pain but my period is absent for almost 3 months. I was in a boarding school before and usually my period only skips for 2 months but this time it's almost 3 months. What should i do? Thanks.

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Katieanne93 said on 09 October 2013

Hello im 18 years old & I haven't had my period in over 12 months. I used to have a sort of regular period when I was 14 but since I had been on the pill cerazette then the implant I haven't had ny period in the last 2 years I have been on once & only bleed light for 2 days. What can I do?

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rachel9590 said on 30 September 2013

Im 31, I have been on the pill for 14 yrs. I have 2 children.
I recently was diagnosed with thrush by my gp after missing 2 periods and swobs being taken. I am still taking my pill. I have go to go back to my gp in 1 mth to see if the infection has cleared as I still had results of abnormal cells
but wanted to wait until thrush has cleared. I have also had had bleeding after sex a cpl of times in the past few weeks. Has anyone else had this or something similar? Im really worried and thinking the worst. I have never had probs dwn there b4. I am upto date on smears last 1 being dec 12. Thanks

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DaFergiee1993 said on 07 July 2013

I am 20 years old and I am used to having really painful periods that i have had since I started them. I started having light periods and then for the pass 2 months i haven't had a period, i am still a virgin. Scared to go to the doctors. I live in Scotland i is usually cold but it started to be about 20 ' C recently so i am blaming the weather, i feel completely fine.

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scaniajess said on 17 June 2013

Im 37 and have always had normal periods (21 day cycle). After my period in March, I obviously expected April's in 21 days but 21 days turned to 43 and still no period. My gp tested me for hormonal imbalance but all came back normal. I then read about the cinnamon trick and went out and bought the capsules. I took two that night, two the next morning and by dinner time, my period arrived! Honestly!

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sabnon said on 23 May 2013

hi, i am 26 years old, married women. i used to have regular period before when i was back home. i move to the UK in june 2012 and after i land here my periods has stopped. now its almost a year that i am not having any period. i consult to my GP and my doctor said it might be due to the changed weather and overweight.
i am worried. i dont have any child.
is there any problem in future for having baby??? could you please give me some advice for how to make my period regular.
please help

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MaryBuchanan said on 25 March 2013

I had not had a period for 14 months and drs werent sure what to do...various tests, pills and scans and nothing...I then started sprinkling cinnamon onto my breakfast in the morning and two weeks later I was menstruating. Id never heard of cinnamon being attributed to this and its just a coincidence I got a craving for it on my porridge but it was the only change in my lifestyle and since googling it there is plenty of research to suggest its connection! May have been a coincidence anyway but deffo worth a try if youre worrying about it like I was :)

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donveto86 said on 26 January 2013

I had the flu over Christmas and because of that I come on my period 4 days early, its now been a month since and I'm better but I'm now 3 days late for my period, could having the flu delayed my period.

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Sue Tomo said on 19 January 2013

Im 32 yrs old I haven't had a period for just over 12 months I might get the odd day or even half a day now and then which isn't very often. All my bloods have come back normal and I am under a lot of stress. Ive been sterilized, and have been put on norethisterone but I didn't have no period. Am waiting to have a scan to see if anything shows up, I just can't seem to get no answers off my doctor and it does concern me.

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gembunny said on 19 September 2012

Hi, I am 26 years old and it has been over 2 years since I have had a period due to weight loss/stress. I have been back and forth from the doctors & hospital and been on progesterone & hormones, done all sorts of tests and scans which all show I am normal & able to ovulate/get pregnant and my hormone levels are normal but I am just in a routine of not ovulating. I have just been prescribed femoston 2/10 and can't understand how well this is likely to work, as I feel my best bet would be Clomid to induce an ovulation. I am married and we are trying to conceive, I feel like the femoston is unlikely to work since I have suffered amenhorrhea for so long now! Can anyone help? Is the femoston likely to work for me or does anyone know what the percentage of this triggering an ovulation is? Thanks.

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confused lady said on 12 October 2011

I am 21 years of age, I have had periods over 10 years now. They have always been regular, the last time I started my periods was on 10th August, it has been two months and very unusual for me to have not started. I am a virgin so I am 100% sure that I am not pregnant. I have been experiencing stress, but at the highest point of stress my periods were normal. I am really scared i dont know what to do. I am definitely not dieting and nor have i experienced excessive weight loss, but i have lost my appetite and my sleeping pattern has become irregular.

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mandy1985 said on 05 October 2011

im 26yrs old and ilast had a period on 1st jan 2011 and havent had one since.i get pains as in gonna have one but never comes.ive been the doctors and ive been the hospital and had scans on my ovarys and they are fine. i went back to the doctors had blolod test and again they was fine.they had my hormone level was abit low but they cause i havent had a period.they told me to go backin two months but i think ive waited long enough.wot else can i do?

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laurend90 said on 05 September 2011

im 19 yars old and was on the pil for 4 and half years, I stoped taking the pill in february and have not had a period for seven months accept for two days in July. There could be chance of pregnancy however I have done tests and all negative. I know i takes your body several months to get back to normal but it has been seven months so a bit concerned was wondering if any one could give any advise?
I was also wondering if there are any test you can do to see if you can have children because my mum suffers from endometriosis and was worried I may have the same?

thanks

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hannah4295 said on 16 July 2011

i'm 16 and started my periods 4 and a half years ago, i have never been on the pill or any other contraception method, and usually my periods are every 5-6 weeks, but now i have not had a period for 17 weeks and 4 days, i'm quite worried.
i have done pregnancy tests and they have came back negative, also for the last 4 days i have been getting sever pain in my left over the feeling of someone tightly squeezing it then stabbing it, sounds quite horrific but now you know how i feel, please help i am terrified i might not be able to have children x

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Cazy L said on 06 May 2011

Hi im 38 years old. I have always had regular periods bang on every 28 days without fail and always very long and very heavy. But out of the blue I have missed my period 10 days which is just not like me. Didnt think I was pregnant as have two children already and know the signs but did a home test to make sure - was negative, and doctor did another - again negative. Stomach feels off, sickly and bloated like it normally does when I am due on. Can anyone offer their advice as Doc wants me to wait another 2 weeks before intervening.

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Becky 29 said on 06 April 2011

I am going through the same situation,
do any of you ladies got any answers?
is there anything that i can look up, ask my GP for, take?
it is now 90 since my last period i get stomach cramps (not really bad ones but the same as you feel when a peroid is due to start and then nothing comes)
Its really starting to concern me
any help would be great!!

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Eralc said on 16 February 2011

Did either of your periods return to normal as I am experiencing similar problems now?

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LA85 said on 28 February 2010

Im am a 24 yr old and was on the contaceptive pill for about 9 yrs before stopping it last yr at end of september. I did have a few periods from then until xmas but i havent had a period this year as of yet. Im starting to get concerned as i want to start a family with my partner. I have done a couple of pregnancy tests which were negative.If i dont have my periods, i wont conceive, right? I am trying not to stress about it but want to know if this is normal and if there is anything i can do. My GP says just to keep taking tests, but I want to know why i was having periods since stopping the pill and now i am not. Any comments/advise would be appreciated. Thank you.

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Holly35 said on 28 January 2010

Im 35 years old & was on the pill for 13 years - i came off last July (2009) as we'd like to start a family. Since then i have only had 3 periods, the last one being 75 days ago....I know it takes time for the pill to come out of your system etc etc etc but im becoming a little concerned. My doctor will not do anything til at least 1 year....?! Could anyone give me some advice? Ive done preg tests/ovulation tests and they have all been negative. Im concerned something could be wrong, and also being 35 I know time is not on my side.

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Holly35 said on 28 January 2010

Im 35 years old & was on the pill for 13 years - i came off last July (2009) as we'd like to start a family. Since then i have only had 3 periods, the last one being 75 days ago....I know it takes time for the pill to come out of your system etc etc etc but im becoming a little concerned. My doctor will not do anything til at least 1 year....?! Could anyone give me some advice? Ive done preg tests/ovulation tests and they have all been negative. Im concerned something could be wrong, and also being 35 I know time is not on my side.

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How to tackle problem periods

Symptoms and treatments of period problems, including painful or heavy periods, endometriosis and PMS

Know your menstrual cycle

Find out about what happens, including ovulation, periods and the fertile time