Complications of periods 

If you have problems with your periods, talk to your GP because there may be treatments that can help. 

Period problems include: 

Absent periods (amenorrhoea)

If a woman stops having periods altogether, it's known as absent periods or amenorrhoea. It usually means that no eggs are produced. If you don't produce eggs (ovulate), you can't get pregnant.

There are many possible causes of absent periods, including severe stress, extreme weight loss, various medications and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Treating the underlying cause will often lead to your periods resuming.

Read more about the causes of absent periods and treating absent periods.

Heavy periods (menorrhagia)

The amount of blood lost during a period varies from woman to woman.

However, see your GP if your periods are so heavy that they're disrupting your life and making you feel miserable. There is treatment that can help.

You might have heavy periods if:

  • you're using many tampons or sanitary towels
  • blood leaks through to your clothes
  • you need to use a sanitary towel and a tampon to prevent leaking

Read more about heavy periods and treating heavy periods.

Irregular periods (oligomenorrhoea)

Periods can last between two and eight days and the menstrual cycle (the time from the start of one period to the day before the next one) usually lasts 24 to 35 days.

If you have irregular periods, also known as oligomenorrhoea, the gaps between your periods will vary, as will the amount of blood you lose and how long your period lasts.

There are many possible causes of irregular periods, and treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Possible treatments include changing your method of contraception, relaxation and counselling.

Read more about the causes of irregular periods and treating irregular periods.

Painful periods (dysmenorrhoea)

Most women experience painful periods at some point in their lifetime. The pain can be in your lower abdomen (tummy), pelvis, lower back, thighs and vagina shortly before and during your period.

The pain can vary from mild to very severe. Speak to your GP if the pain is severe and you're finding it difficult to cope.

Painkillers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used to treat painful periods.

Read more about painful periods and treating painful periods.

Page last reviewed: 03/10/2013

Next review due: 03/10/2015