Most women have between 11 and 13
menstrual periods each year. You may be different: You
may have more or fewer. Missed or irregular periods must be looked at in terms
of what is normal for you.
Menstrual periods are often irregular during the
first few years after menstruation starts. It may take several years for the
hormones that control menstruation to reach a
Menstrual periods also may be very irregular at the other
end of the menstrual years. Many women realize that they are approaching
menopause when their otherwise regular periods become
irregular. Menopause occurs when it has been 12 months since you had a
Pregnancy is the
most common cause of a missed period. If you might be pregnant, treat yourself
as if you are pregnant until you know for sure. Use a
home pregnancy test as the first step to finding out
whether you are pregnant.
If you are not pregnant, other causes of
missed or irregular periods include:
Excessive weight loss or gain. Although low body
weight is a common cause of missed or irregular periods, obesity also can cause
you've skipped a period, try to relax. Restoring your life to emotional and
physical balance can help. Many women miss periods now and then. Unless you are
pregnant, chances are your cycle will return to normal next month.
Many prescription and nonprescription medicines can affect
the menstrual cycle. A few examples are:
Anticoagulant medicines, such as aspirin and
warfarin (such as Coumadin).
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
(NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (for example, Advil or Motrin) and naproxen (for
Hormonal forms of birth control, such as birth
control pills, Depo-Provera injections, Implanon implants, and the
levonorgestrel IUD (Mirena).
Medicines used to treat cancer (chemotherapy).
Shock is a life-threatening condition that may quickly occur
after a sudden illness or injury.
Symptoms of shock (most of which will be present) include:
Feeling very dizzy or
lightheaded, like you may pass out.
Feeling very weak or having
Not feeling alert or able to think clearly. You
may be confused, restless, fearful, or unable to respond to questions.
Pain in adults and older children
Severe pain (8 to 10): The pain
is so bad that you can't stand it for more than a few hours, can't sleep, and
can't do anything else except focus on the pain.
Moderate pain (5 to 7): The pain is bad enough to disrupt your
normal activities and your sleep, but you can tolerate it for hours or days.
Moderate can also mean pain that comes and goes even if it's severe when it's
Mild pain (1 to 4): You notice the pain,
but it is not bad enough to disrupt your sleep or activities.
Try Home Treatment
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Try home treatment to relieve the
Call your doctor if symptoms get worse or you have any
concerns (for example, if symptoms are not getting better as you would expect).
You may need care sooner.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
Your age. Babies and older
adults tend to get sicker quicker.
Your overall health. If you have a condition such as diabetes, HIV, cancer, or heart
disease, you may need to pay closer attention to certain symptoms and seek care
Medicines you take. Certain
medicines, herbal remedies, and supplements can cause symptoms or make them
Recent health events, such as surgery
or injury. These kinds of events can cause symptoms afterwards or make them
Your health habits and lifestyle, such as eating and exercise habits, smoking, alcohol or drug
use, sexual history, and travel.
There is no home treatment for
missed or irregular periods. But the following information may help you
find the cause of your missed or irregular periods:
Eat a balanced diet. Being underweight or
overweight can cause missed and irregular periods. For more information, see
Healthy Eating and
If you are an
endurance athlete, you may have to cut back on your
training. Be sure to talk with your doctor about hormone and calcium
supplements to protect against bone loss if you are missing periods. For more
information, see the topic
If you think you might be pregnant
home pregnancy test if you have had sex since your last period. If the result is positive, practice the following good health habits
until you see your doctor:
Eat a balanced diet.
Do not smoke
or use other tobacco products.
Do not use alcohol or
Avoid caffeine, or limit your intake to about 1 cup of
coffee or tea each day.
Do not clean a cat litter box, to avoid the
risk of toxoplasmosis.
Avoid people who are ill.
vitamin supplement that contains folic acid or a prenatal vitamin.
If the home pregnancy test is negative but you continue to
have pregnancy symptoms, it is a good idea to see your doctor to confirm the
results. Practice good health habits until you see your doctor.
You have missed more than two menstrual periods
in a row.
Here are some steps you can take to help
prevent missed or irregular periods.
Avoid fad diets that greatly restrict calories
and food variety, and avoid rapid weight loss. To maintain a healthy weight,
focus on eating a variety of low-fat foods. For more information, see the
Healthy Eating and
consistently, as directed by your doctor. For more information, see the topic
gradually. For more information, see the topic
Learn and practice relaxation
exercises to reduce and cope with stress. For more information, see the topic
If you participate in
endurance sports, you may miss periods or stop
menstruating. Eat a healthy, balanced diet, and keep track of your periods. Tell
your doctor about any changes in your menstrual periods.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.