Missed periods: what causes them?

Although menstruation is supposed to take place every month, it can sometimes be delayed or even absent. This is calledamenorrhea. Although not alarming, this absence of periods should be monitored. Wondering what to do when your period disappears? We'll explain everything.

Is an absence of periods normal?

Although menstruation is considered to last from 2 to 7 days, as surprising as it may seem,amenorrhea can be normal. So you shouldn't be concerned if your period is absent:

  • Before puberty;
  • During pregnancy;
  • During breast-feeding;
  • At menopause.

Two types of amenorrhea can affect women.

Primary amenorrhea

This is the absence of menstruation in girls over the age of 16. Despite normal growth and sometimes even the development of secondary sexual characteristics (formed breasts, armpit or pubic hair), they have never menstruated. Genetic diseases such as Turner's syndrome (the young woman has only one X chromosome) can cause this delay. Congenital malformation of the reproductive organs, overproduction of male hormones or genital disorders may also be considered.

Secondary amenorrhea

This term is used for women who have already reached menstrual regulation, and who have missed 3 cycles of menstruation. For example, a woman who is pregnant or has no periods after stopping the pill for 7 days and continuing for around 3 months is said to havesecondary amenorrhea.

What are the causes of missed periods?

Several factors can lead to missed periods:

Use of contraception

Absence of periods on the pill is very common. This hormonal device blocks ovulation. Bleeding between two packets is therefore not really a period. If you're taking a micro-progestin-only pill, you may not even have a period. If you don 't have a period while you're on the pill, make sure it's not due to pregnancy. A hormonal IUD, an injectable contraceptive or a continuous pill, on the other hand, cause aharmless absence of periods.

The onset of menopause or peri-menopause

The menopause corresponds to thenatural cessation of menstruation. It generally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. The reduction in estrogen production can initially lead to irregular cycles, known as peri-menopause. By the time theabsence of menstrual periods lasts a year, menopause is usually established.

Chronic illness or stress

Amenorrhea can also be explained by certain illnesses. In a consultation, a doctor will want to rule out the following causes:

  • Ovarian tumour ;
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome;
  • Damage to the uterus or vagina;
  • Hyper- or hypothyroidism.

Absence of menstruation can also be psychogenic, i.e. caused by a psychological factor such as stress or emotional shock. Professional pressure, loss of a loved one or separation can disrupt the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is responsible for hormone production, and any disturbance can influence menstrual cycles. Takingantidepressants or corticosteroids can also cause amenorrhea. Heavy treatments such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy can also disrupt menstruation.

Body mass

Sudden weight gain or loss can also lead to missed periods. Most women suffering from eating disorders also experience amenorrhea. In the case of anorexia, for example, estrogen production drops, causing menstruation to stop.

After pregnancy: a natural cause

After childbirth, an absence of menstrual periods is perfectly natural.Amenorrhea lasts between 6 and 8 weeks. In the case of breastfeeding, the absence of menstruation may be longer. A miscarriage or medically induced abortion can also result in amenorrhea lasting a month and a half or two.

Is there a link between missed periods and contraception?

Contraception can have a direct impact on menstrual flow and periods.

Absence of periods after stopping a pill

If you don't get your period after stopping taking the pill for 7 days, don't worry. This post-contraceptive amenorrhea can even last for several months without being alarming. In fact, after stopping the pill, menstruation does not return instantly. The body may need several months to recover its natural reflexes of a classic ovulation cycle. After 5 months, don't hesitate to consult your gynecologist or a midwife for professional advice.

Absence of periods with an IUD

The absence of menstrual periods on the pill is something to be concerned about, but with a hormonal IUD, it's normal. In fact, the role of the IUD is to block ovulation and the menstrual cycle. On the other hand, in the case of an absence of periods with a copper IUD, take a pregnancy test.

Should I seek medical advice if I miss my period?

After a certain length of time, it's best to consult a professional.

Absence of menstruation for 1 month

An amenorrhea of 1 month can be a symptom of excessive stress, a weight problem or polycystic ovaries. Make an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause of your missed period. For sexually active women who miss a period while on the pill, it's advisable to have a test done to rule out any suspicion of pregnancy.

3 months without a period

In the case of secondary amenorrhea, your doctor can help you determine the causes. Lifestyle changes, intensive sports activities, eating disorders or certain medications could explain the absence of menstruation. Remember that stopping the pill without a period for 3 months is normal. If your doctor is unable to identify the probable cause of your amenorrhea, he or she will prescribe further tests.

FAQs on missed periods

What causes an absence of periods?

Absence of menstruation can be caused by a number of factors: delayed puberty, pregnancy, hormonal contraception or intense stress. There are many reasons for this, so it's important to consult a specialist to find the cause.

What illnesses can stop menstruation?

Stopped periods are sometimes caused by illnesses. These are very diverse and not always directly linked to hormonal activity: anorexia, bulimia, hyperthyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome, etc.

Can infections prevent menstruation?

Infections have nothing to do with the absence of a period, even in the case of a urinary infection. However, if your period is accompanied by a fever, consult your doctor to make sure it's not linked to an infection of the uterus. You can also ask your doctor about your late period.

Why haven't I got my period when I'm not pregnant?

There are several reasons why you may not be having your period when you're not pregnant. If you've had a negative test result confirmed by a blood test, your missed period may be linked to stress or psychological shock. If you're feeling pressure at work or going through a personal ordeal (death of a loved one, divorce, financial difficulties), this can disrupt your cycles.

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