Absent periods are quite common with an estimated 1 in 25 women affected at some point in their lives. Obviously pregnancy is the first thought that springs to mind when your period stops, but if you’ve done a test and it’s negative, there are other factors that might be to blame.
“Periods usually tend to become lighter with longer cycle length closer to menopause when they completely stop around an average age of 50 to 51,” says Kavita Singh, Consultant Gynaecologist at BMI The Priory Hospital in Birmingham.
If you’re younger than that, it could still be your menopause that’s causing your periods to stop. A recent study from Imperial College London suggests as many as 1 in 16 women may experience their periods ending due to premature menopause.
“Periods can also stop secondary to the contraception usage like Mirena, hormonal injections or implants,” reassures Kavita.
The contraceptive injection for example has been reported to affect as many as 7 out of 10 women, who all reported their periods stopping for up to a year after they’d had the injection.
Once you stop the method of contraception, your periods should return to normal, although occasionally problems can persist for a few months afterwards.
If you’re periods have always been fine and are suddenly absent, take a look at your life as certain factors can cause your periods to stop.
For example, if you’ve just had a baby, it may take a while for your periods to get back to normal. “It is normal for women who are breast feeding to get no periods, which usually resume after stoppage of breast feeding,” says Kavita.
Other lifestyle factors that could lead to absent periods include stress, extreme weight loss or over exercising.
An underlying medical condition
Sometimes a missing period does indicate that something else is wrong.
“Periods can stop because of hormone imbalance like in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) where menstrual periods can become very infrequent, occurring every 2-3 months or become absent,” says Kavita.
Other symptoms of PCOS include weight gain, acne and excessive facial hair so if you suspect this is the cause of your absent period, make an appointment with your GP. Thyroid conditions – both overactive and underactive thyroid – can also cause your periods to stop, while very rarely a lack of periods can point to something a little more serious.
“Rarely periods can stop secondary to hormone producing tumours of the ovary,” advises Kavita.
If you are on medication for other conditions, this can also cause a pause in your periods. Antidepressants, anti-sickness medications, as well as some medications for high blood pressure have been found to cause periods to stop.
If your period has not arrived when you expected it to, you may just be late. Read our article detailing 10 reasons you why your period is late. If you haven’t had a period for more than 6 months, it’s definitely worth paying a visit to your doctor, and dependent on what they think, they may then refer you to a specialist.
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