But there are other times when you might miss a period—it’s unlikely that you’ll have regular, uninterrupted periods throughout your 30-plus reproductive years.
Amenorrhea—missing one or more periods—is not uncommon. “The mechanism to produce a mature egg every month and the regularity of menses is very complex,” said Ronald Stewart, MD, an OBGYN at Banner Health Clinic in Loveland, CO. “It may go wrong from time to time, resulting in irregular or even absent menses.”
Why you might miss a period
Dr. Stewart said there are several different reasons you could skip your period in one or more months:
- Certain medications
- llnesses such as thyroid disease
- Gaining or losing a significant amount of weight
- Excessive exercise
- Hormonal contraceptive use
- Polycystic ovary syndrome, where you might miss several periods and then possibly have a heavy period
What you should do if you miss a period
Unless you’re experiencing other symptoms that concern you or you suspect you might be pregnant, there’s no need to worry about missing one or two periods. “Missing an occasional period now and then is not terribly uncommon,” Dr. Stewart said.
If you miss three consecutive periods, you should talk to your primary care physician or OBGYN. “Often the source is fairly obvious and a brief discussion with your provider could address the issue,” Dr. Stewart said.
Your doctor will start with your medical history and a physical exam. From that information you can work with your doctor to plan next steps, which could be lab tests or imaging studies such as ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI.
Most of the time, you will find a simple solution to get your periods back on track. But it’s important to seek medical care, since sometimes missed periods could be signs of serious health problems. Thyroid disease, pituitary dysfunction, ovulatory dysfunction, chronic kidney disease or cancer can all be associated with amenorrhea. And those conditions could be linked with problems like osteoporosis, abnormal pregnancy, or cancer of the uterine lining.
The bottom line
It’s not uncommon to miss a menstrual period, even if you’re not pregnant or approaching menopause. But if you miss three periods in a row, talk to your doctor to rule out underlying health problems that could be affecting your menstrual cycle.
An OBGYN or other women’s health expert can help troubleshoot amenorrhea. To connect with an expert, visit BannerHealth.com.
To learn more about women’s reproductive health issues, read:
- Getting to the Bottom of Myths About the Pill
- When Should My Daughter See the Gynecologist?
- Will Medication Help My Menopause Symptoms?