Treating absent periods 

Treatment for absent periods depends on what is thought to be causing the condition.

A "wait and see" approach is sometimes taken just in case your periods start or return by themselves. This approach is most often used for girls who haven't started their periods – in many of these cases, periods will start naturally by the age of 18.

If tests suggest an underlying medical condition is causing absent periods, treatment will depend on the specific condition. It's sometimes possible to be treated by your GP, although some treatments are only available from specialists.

It's not possible to treat all cases of absent periods. For example, there's no way of making you have periods if you have androgen insensitivity syndrome, a condition where a child's genitals and reproductive organs don't develop normally.

Treatments for some of the more common causes of absent periods are described below.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can be treated in a number of different ways, but hormone therapy is often recommended to restore a normal menstrual cycle. 

This will usually involve either taking the contraceptive pill or tablets containing a hormone called progesterone.

Read more about treating polycystic ovary syndrome.

Hypothalamic amenorrhoea

Hypothalamic amenorrhoea is the absence of periods caused by things such as extreme weight loss, excessive exercise, stress or a long-term condition.

It can be treated by addressing the underlying cause. For example, if your symptoms are caused by excessive weight loss, you may be referred to a dietitian, who can advise you about safe ways to regain a healthy weight.

If your weight loss is the result of an eating disorder, such as anorexia, you'll need to be referred to a psychiatrist (a doctor who specialises in treating mental health conditions) who has experience of treating eating disorders.

Read more about treating anorexia nervosa.

If your symptoms are caused by excessive exercise, you'll be advised to reduce your levels of physical activity. Elite or professional athletes may benefit from being referred to a doctor who specialises in sports medicine. They'll be able to advise you about how you can maintain fitness and physical performance without disrupting your periods.

If your symptoms are caused by stress, a type of talking therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) might help. CBT aims to help you manage your problems by changing how you think and act.

If your symptoms are caused by a long-term health condition, treating the condition may help restore your periods. For example, diabetes can sometimes interfere with monthly periods and may cause missed or irregular periods. If you have diabetes, making sure your blood glucose levels are under control before and during your period will help.

Hyperprolactinaemia

The treatment for hyperprolactinaemia – where a person has abnormally high levels of a hormone called prolactin – will depend on the underlying cause.

For example, if hyperprolactinaemia is the result of a brain tumour, surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy may be needed to remove or shrink the tumour. Your medication may need to be reviewed if hyperprolactinaemia occurs as a side effect of a medicine.

Premature ovarian failure

Hormone medication is usually recommended in cases of premature ovarian failure. In women with premature ovarian failure, their ovaries stop producing eggs, even though they should still be young enough to ovulate. 

This may involve taking the contraceptive pill or having a treatment called hormone replacement therapy (HRT). These treatments can help reduce the risk of complications associated with premature ovarian failure, such as osteoporosis (weakening of the bones), but they won't necessarily restore your periods.

Thyroid conditions

Treatment options for an overactive thyroid gland include thionamide medication, which helps reduce thyroid activity, and a type of radiotherapy called radioiodine treatment, which can be used to reduce the size of the thyroid gland.

Treatment options for an underactive thyroid include a medication called levothyroxine, which can help stimulate thyroid activity.

Read more about treating an overactive thyroid and treating an underactive thyroid.

Page last reviewed: 06/10/2015

Next review due: 06/10/2017