Period irregularity is surprisingly common in teens. What causes missed periods and what might they signal about the body?
Defining a “Missed Period”
Often during conversations about periods, I hear my patients have “missed” a period…or even, a few periods. What exactly is a “missed” period? Typically, periods follow a monthly schedule, arriving every 28-35 days, but sometimes your cycle might skip over the menstrual phase – the phase when you bleed. If you were expecting your period but it never arrived, know that sometimes this is natural, but it’s important to explore the potential factors that contributed to a change your cycle.
Common Reasons for Missed Periods
Let’s talk about reasons why Aunt Flo might skip a visit. In general, teenagers and young people experience missed periods more frequently, especially athletes or dancers who perform strenuous exercise and don’t consume enough calories in exchange. There are a variety of other causes for a missed period, ranging from stress, exercise, or weight fluctuations. Each of these factors affects hormone levels, and when a body decides to halt ovulation, it can cause bleeding to temporarily stop.
When You Should Visit a Doctor
It’s important for your child get familiar with their body and cycle, so that when they notice something unusual like a missed period, you know to consult a primary care doctor or OB/GYN (yes, they should see both of these docs regularly). Help your child track their cycle with a tool like the U by Kotex® period calculator, and share that record with the doctor. I recommend seeing a doctor immediately if your teen experiences one of the following.
A doctor can help determine if the missed periods are a sign of a more serious condition like Polycystic ovary syndrome or chronic diseases like diabetes. Overall, missing a couple periods throughout one’s life can be a normal result of life experiences, however, if you notice frequent missed periods, it’s always a good idea to call your doctor. They are here to help you keep periods healthy and manageable!
Author Summary: Dr. Jessica Shepherd is an OB/GYN, women's health expert and the founder of Her Viewpoint, an online women's health forum that focuses on addressing taboo topics in a comfortable setting. She currently practices at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX.
This is not intended to be medical advice. Everybody is different so please make sure to consult your physician if you're having issues. Do not delay or refrain from seeking professional medical advice from your physician because of something you have read on this site.