Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Missed or Irregular Periods
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:
Remember, you can still become pregnant even though you are
not menstruating. Practice birth control if you do not wish to become
Premature ovarian failure is when you stop menstruating
before age 40. Surgery,
radiation therapy to the abdomen or pelvis may cause
premature ovarian failure.
Other diseases such as
irritable bowel syndrome,
liver disease, and
diabetes can cause missed or irregular periods,
although this is rare. But if any of these diseases are present, you will
usually have other symptoms besides menstrual irregularities.
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.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
Based on your answers, you need
Call911or other emergency services now.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Many prescription and nonprescription medicines can affect
the menstrual cycle. A few examples are:
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:
Pain in adults and older children
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
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:
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:
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.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
Here are some steps you can take to help
prevent missed or irregular periods.
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.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.