Most women have between 11 and 13
menstrual periods each year. You may be different: You
may have more or fewer. Missed or irregular periods must be looked at in terms
of what is normal for you.
Menstrual periods are often irregular during the
first few years after menstruation starts. It may take several years for the
hormones that control menstruation to reach a
Menstrual periods also may be very irregular at the other
end of the menstrual years. Many women realize that they are approaching
menopause when their otherwise regular periods become
irregular. Menopause occurs when it has been 12 months since you have had a
Pregnancy is the
most common cause of a missed period. If you might be pregnant, treat yourself
as if you are pregnant until you know for sure. Use a
home pregnancy test as the first step to finding out
whether you are pregnant.
If you are not pregnant, other causes of
missed or irregular periods include:
Excessive weight loss or gain. Although low body
weight is a common cause of missed or irregular periods, obesity also can cause
you've skipped a period, try to relax. Restoring your life to emotional and
physical balance can help. Many women miss periods now and then. Unless you are
pregnant, chances are your cycle will return to normal next month.
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There is no home treatment for
missed or irregular periods. But the following information may help you
find the cause of your missed or irregular periods:
Eat a balanced diet. Being underweight or
overweight can cause missed and irregular periods. For more information, see
Healthy Eating and
If you are an
endurance athlete, you may have to cut back on your
training. Be sure to talk with your doctor about hormone and calcium
supplements to protect against bone loss if you are missing periods. For more
information, see the topic
If you think you might be pregnant
home pregnancy test if you had sex since your last period. If the result is positive, practice the following good health habits
until you see your doctor:
Eat a balanced diet.
Do not smoke
or use other tobacco products.
Do not use alcohol or
Avoid caffeine, or limit your intake to about 1 cup of
coffee or tea each day.
Do not clean a cat litter box, to avoid the
risk of toxoplasmosis.
Avoid people who are ill.
vitamin supplement that contains folic acid or a prenatal vitamin.
If the home pregnancy test is negative but you continue to
have pregnancy symptoms, it is a good idea to see your doctor to confirm the
results. Practice good health habits until you see your doctor.
You have missed more than two menstrual periods
in a row.
Here are some steps you can take to help
prevent missed or irregular periods.
Avoid fad diets that greatly restrict calories
and food variety, and avoid rapid weight loss. To maintain a healthy weight,
focus on eating a variety of low-fat foods. For more information, see the
Healthy Eating and
consistently, as directed by your doctor. For more information, see the topic
gradually. For more information, see the topic
Learn and practice relaxation
exercises to reduce and cope with stress. For more information, see the topic
If you participate in
endurance sports, you may miss periods or stop
menstruating. Eat a healthy, balanced diet, and keep track of your periods. Tell
your doctor about any changes in your menstrual periods.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.