Missing a period causes many young girls and women a lot of distress, especially if they are sexually active and not planning to have a child. In most cases, your missed period may be due to pregnancy. If you are sexually active and have missed your period, you need to run a pregnancy test immediately.
At other times, you may miss a period for other reasons – some minor upsets in your health or lifestyle or it could be linked to serious medical disorders.
How many missed periods are serious?
It is difficult to say how long one should wait before seeking medical attention. If you are a healthy person with a regular cycle and you have missed even one period, then you should consult with a doctor. On the other hand, if you suffer with an irregular menstrual cycle (oligomenorrhea) then missing a period is the norm in your case, or it may just be delayed.
It is always important to keep a record of your individual menstrual cycle so that you know if a missed period occurs on a regular basis or if this is a once off occurrence.
However if your menstruation is absent for a long period of time, then this is known as amenorrhea. There are two types of amenorrhea – primary and secondary.
The first, primary amenorrhea, occurs in young girls who have never had a period. Once you reach 16 years of age and there is no period as yet, or if you are showing the signs of puberty and still not getting your period after 2 years, then you may be suffering with primary amenorrhea. Secondary amenorrhea is when you previously had your periods but it has now stopped for at least 6 months.
Amenorrhea is a sign of some other underlying medical condition and needs to be investigated by your doctor. This is not just the case of missing a single period.
How late is a delayed period?
This depends on your menstrual cycle. The average cycle is about 28 days but it can be as short as 22 days or as long as 35 days. Your period usually begins about 14 to 16 days after ovulation and may last for 3 to 7 days. If you have not had your period within 7 days after your due date, you can consider this as a late period.
What causes no periods?
It depends on the individual and the situation. Sometimes a stressful time in your life can upset your cycle and causes you to miss a period. At other times, you may have had a tummy bug (gastric flu) or severe cold and this has upset your entire cycle. Usually, pregnancy is the cause of an absent period. Emotional and mental stress are other common causes, as well as severe infections, starvation or excessive dieting, strenuous exercise and depression.
Other possible causes include narcotic (illegal street drug) use, alcohol abuse or the use of certain prescription drugs. Using emergency contraceptives like the ‘morning after’ pill or going for an abortion can also upset your cycle. Even the incorrect use of oral contraceptive pills or patches can cause you to miss a period.
What is the treatment for no period?
This totally depends on the cause. If you are suffering with amenorrhea, then a gynecological examination and further medical investigation will help your doctor reveal the possible cause and this should be treated. Your menstruation should then return. If you have missed a period or two and are not pregnant, have no other signs and symptoms, then it may just an upset in your cycle. It should return on its own provided that you avoid or correct any of the causative factors mentioned above.
This does not mean that you should wait for 6 months before seeking treatment. If you are concerned about your absent period, consult with your doctor immediately. Many cases of an irregular menstrual cycle require a short course of oral contraceptives to stabilize your hormone levels and reestablish a regular and healthy cycle.