Abnormal periods 

If you have problems with your periods, talk to your GP as 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 no eggs are being produced. If you don't produce eggs (ovulate), you can't get pregnant.

There are many possible causes of absent periods, including:

Treating the underlying cause often leads 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. Treatment may 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
  • you become anaemic – leading to tiredness, shortness of breath, feeling faint, or hair loss

Read more about heavy periods and treating heavy periods.

Irregular periods

Periods can last between two and eight days. 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, the gaps between your periods will vary, as will the amount of blood you lose and how long your period lasts.

Irregular periods are caused by irregular ovulation, so there are many possible causes. They may be normal in puberty or shortly before the menopause, or may be caused by progesterone-based contraceptives. The other possible causes are similar to those of absent periods.

Treatment for irregular periods depends on the underlying cause.

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: 30/09/2015

Next review due: 30/09/2017