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Missed Periods and Related Women's Health Conditions

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Pregnancy should always be considered in a sexually active woman who misses her period. A urine pregnancy test is easy to do and available in most drugstores. However, there are other possibilities a missed period could signal that are important to understand.

First, missed or irregular menstrual cycles may be related to a woman’s method of birth control. A menstrual cycle occurs when a woman ovulates but does not get pregnant that month. The lining inside the uterus that was built up to support a pregnancy is then shed off when no pregnancy occurs. Oral contraceptives (birth control pills) suppress ovulation and can cause missed or irregular cycles because they are low dose (20-35 micrograms of estrogen per pill per day) and may not build up much lining. If the lining in the uterus is thin, there is not much to shed off during her period, so it may only look like spotting or no bleeding at all. The blood is not left inside -- it was never produced.

But if the birth control pills are taken correctly -- every day approximately the same time, don’t double them if you forget one -- then pregnancy should not result. There is a 1% failure rate if used correctly. Spotting does not mean they are not working to prevent a pregnancy, it just means they aren’t holding up the lining very well. If the birth control pills are not taken properly, spotting may occur and there is a risk of pregnancy with only one or two missed pills per cycle.

Missed or irregular periods can also be the symptoms of several gynecological conditions. Let’s review two of them.

Polycystic Ovaries (PCO) occurs in approximately 5% of women. Missed or irregular menstrual cycles are the first clue. Other symptoms may be overweight/obesity, acne and hirsuitism (a lot of hair-body, facial or both).

Blood tests and a pelvic sonogram can confirm the diagnosis. Some women have no symptoms other than missed or irregular periods. A normal menstrual cycle represents normal hormone levels of estrogen and progesterone-necessary for a woman’s body.

Add a Comment7 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

This article is a bit scary since I couldn't tell you when my last period was. It's been well over 2 years probably closer to over 4 now that i think about it and I'm 32.

June 9, 2016 - 9:47pm

i have had touble for while with back my wind try pick somthing up my back feel like some thing is pulling out it. glassshoe47 .....

June 14, 2010 - 6:37am

i am 47 year old i have miss my number 1 period what do u thank it cause be ... glassshoe47...

June 13, 2010 - 11:46am
(reply to glassshoe47)

I read that you asked a similar question at this location: http://www.empowher.com/community/ask/i-have-low-back-pain-i-have-not-had-period-month-i-dont-know-what-do-about-it#comment-62020, and wanted you to know that we are replying to your question at this link (it is a separate ASK question, that is easier to have continued discussion).

June 13, 2010 - 9:16pm
HERWriter Guide

Dear Anon (Sept 26th)

If your partner's problem is indeed due to an infection, what has her doctor done to clear up the problem?
Do you not have an alternative to the doctor she is seeing? Is he a medical doctor?

She may be pregnant since those "initial" signs you talked about can signal pregnancy and many women don't show for several months. Has she taken a pregnancy test?

September 26, 2009 - 4:08pm
EmpowHER Guest

My parnter is has missed her periods now for over three minths, she has all the normal initial signs heavy breasts etc, she is not pregnant etc fat,thin. The local witch doctor (i'll call him that) says its an infection, now he has done no tests blood,swab etc.
I'm trying to tell her its something either natural, we are both doing lots of things right now her trying to get to uni, move to Uk, build a house etc. or she should see a real doctor in the UK and have proper blood tests etc.
Give me soem help here to assist in slapping this doctor for talking 90% crap.

September 26, 2009 - 2:10pm
EmpowHER Guest

Missed periods can mean a lot of things as you get older. It is best to get checked out by a doctor just to make sure that everything is normal, or at least normal for you, and your missed periods aren't caused by something life threatening.

September 25, 2009 - 4:23pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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