Missed Menstrual Period
Symptom Checker: Symptoms & Signs Index
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
While a missed menstrual period is the hallmark of early pregnancy, missing a period can be due to a number of factors and conditions. The term amenorrhea is used by doctors to describe the absence of menstruation. Primary amenorrhea (in which a woman does not begin menstruating) is very rare, while secondary amenorrhea (absence of periods in a previously menstruating woman) is much more common. Periods may also be irregular, with skipped periods, for the first few years after a woman has begun menstruating and in the perimenopause (the time period preceding menopause).
A woman is not considered to have secondary amenorrhea until she has missed three menstrual periods in a row. However, the causes of secondary amenorrhea are generally the same factors or conditions that can lead to a skipped period. If a woman is not pregnant, a missed menstrual period may be due to a wide variety of both physical and emotional conditions that range from lifestyle stress to rare and serious diseases. Many of the conditions that underlie missed menstrual periods interfere with the body's hormonal balance, particularly regarding levels of the sex hormones.
Health concern on your mind? Visit the Symptom Checker.
Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.
Causes of Missed Menstrual Period
In This ArticleAmenorrhea Article
- Amenorrhea facts
- What is amenorrhea?
- What causes amenorrhea?
- What are the symptoms of amenorrhea?
- When should I seek medical care for amenorrhea?
- How is amenorrhea diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for amenorrhea?
- What are the complications of amenorrhea?
- Can amenorrhea be prevented?
- What is the outlook for a woman suffering from amenorrhea?
In This ArticleAnorexia Article
- Anorexia nervosa facts
- What is anorexia nervosa?
- Who is at risk for anorexia nervosa?
- What causes anorexia nervosa?
- How is anorexia nervosa diagnosed?
- What are anorexia symptoms and signs (psychological and behavioral)?
- What are anorexia symptoms, signs, and complications (physical)?
- What is the treatment for anorexia nervosa?
- What is the prognosis (outcome) of anorexia nervosa?
- How can anorexia nervosa be prevented?
- The future of anorexia nervosa
- Where can a person get help for anorexia nervosa?
In This ArticleBrain Tumor Article
- Brain tumor facts*
- What is the brain?
- What are the tumor grades and types?
- Tumor grade
- Types of primary brain tumors
- What are the risk factors for brain tumors?
- What are the symptoms of a brain tumor?
- How are brain tumors diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for a brain tumor?
- What type of surgery is available for brain tumors?
- Radiation therapy for brain tumors
- Chemotherapy for brain tumors
- What about a second opinion for brain tumor treatment?
- Nutrition during brain tumor treatment
- What supportive care is available for patients and caregivers?
- What about rehabilitation after brain tumor treatment?
- What about follow-up care after brain tumor treatment?
- Sources of support
- Taking part in cancer research
In This ArticleBulimia Article
- Bulimia nervosa facts
- What is bulimia?
- What are causes and risk factors for bulimia?
- What are the symptoms and signs of bulimia?
- How do physicians diagnose bulimia?
- What is the treatment for bulimia?
- What are complications of bulimia?
- What is the prognosis for bulimia?
- Is it possible to prevent bulimia?
- Where can one find more information about bulimia?
- Are there support groups for people with bulimia?
In This ArticleEctopic Pregnancy Article
- Ectopic pregnancy facts
- What is an ectopic pregnancy?
- What are the risk factors for ectopic pregnancy?
- What are the signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy?
- How is ectopic pregnancy diagnosed?
- What is the health risk of an ectopic pregnancy?
- What treatment options are available for ectopic pregnancy?
In This ArticleFitness Article
- The importance of physical activity and fitness
- Why should I be active?
- Can everyone benefit from physical activity?
- What are the recommendations for increasing fitness for youth, adults, and seniors?
- How do I get started with a fitness plan?
- When is a medical evaluation necessary?
- How can I make physical activity a part of my life?
- What are the components of physical fitness?
- Fitness terms
In This ArticleMenopause Article
- Menopause facts
- What is menopause?
- At what age does a woman typically reach menopause?
- What conditions can affect the timing of menopause?
- What are the symptoms of menopause?
- What are the complications and effects of menopause on chronic medical conditions?
- Are hormone levels or other blood tests helpful in detecting menopause?
- What are the treatment options for the symptoms of menopause?
- Hormone therapy for menopause
- Other medical therapies for menopause
- Alternative therapies for menopause
- Non-hormone therapies for menopause
- Lifestyle factors in managing menopause symptoms
In This ArticleMenstruation Article
- Menstruation facts*
- What is menstruation?
- What is the menstrual cycle?
- What happens during the menstrual cycle?
- What is a typical menstrual period like?
- What kinds of problems do women have with their periods?
- When does a girl usually get her first period?
- How long does a woman have periods?
- When should I see a doctor about my period?
- How often should I change my pad/tampon?
In This ArticleObesity Article
- Obesity facts
- What is obesity?
- How common is obesity?
- What are the health risks associated with obesity?
- What causes obesity?
- What are other factors associated with obesity?
- How is body fat measured?
- What about weight-for-height tables?
- What is the body mass index (BMI)?
- Does it matter where body fat is located?
- What can be done about obesity?
- What is the role of physical activity and exercise in obesity?
- What is the role of diet in the treatment of obesity?
- What is the role of medication in the treatment of obesity?
- What about herbal fen/phen?
- What about meal substitutes, artificial sweeteners, and OTC products?
- What is the role of surgery in the treatment of obesity?
- How can patients choose a safe and successful weight-loss program?
In This ArticlePolycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Article
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) facts
- What is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)?
- What are the symptoms of PCOS?
- What causes PCOS?
- How is PCOS diagnosed?
- What conditions or complications can be associated with PCOS?
- What treatments are available for PCOS?
In This ArticlePregnancy (Week By Week, Trimesters) Article
- Pregnancy facts*
- What is the first trimester (week 1-week 12)?
- What is the second trimester (week 13-week 28)?
- What is the third trimester (week 29-week 40)?
- How will my baby develop week by week?
- What are the changes that happen to a woman's body during her 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy?
- Body aches
- Breast changes
- Fatigue, sleep problems
- Heartburn and indigestion
- Hemorrhoids during pregnancy
- Leg cramps
- Morning sickness
- Nasal problems
- Numb or tingling hands
- Stretch marks, skin changes
- Urinary frequency and leaking
- Varicose veins
In This ArticlePregnancy Symptoms (Am I Pregnant?) Article
- 8 fast pregnancy symptoms facts
- Pregnancy symptoms in general
- 13 signs and symptoms of early pregnancy
- 8 signs and symptoms of later pregnancy
- 8 options for relief of pregnancy symptoms
Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POF, Premature Ovarian Failure, POI) Primary ovarian iInsufficiency (POF, Premature Ovarian Failure, POI) is the cessation of normal functioning of the ovaries in...learn more »In This ArticlePrimary Ovarian Insufficiency (POF, Premature Ovarian Failure, POI) Article
- What is primary ovarian insufficiency (POI)?
- What are the symptoms of primary ovarian insufficiency?
- How many women are affected by or at risk for primary ovarian insufficiency?
- What causes primary ovarian insufficiency?
- How is primary ovarian insufficiency diagnosed?
- Are there associated disorders or conditions associated with primary ovarian insufficiency?
- What are the treatments for primary ovarian insufficiency?
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Calcium and vitamin D supplements
- Regular physical activity and healthy body weight
- Treatments for associated conditions
- Emotional support
- POI in teens
In This ArticleProlactinoma (Pituitary Tumor) Article
- Prolactinoma facts
- What is a prolactinoma (pituitary tumor)?
- What is the normal function of prolactin?
- What is the pituitary gland?
- Where is the pituitary gland located?
- What problems are caused by a pituitary tumor?
- How common is a prolactinoma?
- What are the types of prolactinomas?
- What causes a prolactinoma?
- What symptoms are caused by a prolactinoma?
- Aside from a prolactinoma, what else can cause prolactin levels to rise?
- How is a prolactinoma diagnosed?
- What follow-up tests are done after a prolactinoma diagnosis?
- What are the goals of treatment of a prolactinoma?
- How is a prolactinoma treated?
- What medications are used to treat prolactinomas?
- What is the surgical treatment of a prolactinoma?
- How do I choose a skilled neurosurgeon?
- Does a prolactinoma affect pregnancy and oral contraceptives?
- Do prolactinomas affect oral contraceptives?
- Is osteoporosis a risk in women with high prolactin levels?
In This ArticleSexually Transmitted Diseases in Women (STDs) Article
- What are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs, formerly referred to as sexually transmitted infections or STIs)?
- Genital Herpes
- Human Papillomaviruses (HPVs) and Genital Warts
- Ectoparasitic Infections
- Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
In This ArticleStress Article
- Stress facts
- What is stress?
- A brief history of stress
- What are the signs and symptoms of poorly managed stress?
- Who is most vulnerable to stress?
- Teen stress
- What is the healthy response to stress?
- How does the response to stress work?
- What is the role of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (grouping) in stress?
- What is the role of the locus coeruleus in stress?
- How do the connections in the brain work in stress?
- What do we know about using (activating) and overusing our internal systems that respond to stress?
- What are the effects of stress on medical and psychological conditions?
- Conclusions about the effects of stress
- What can people do for stress management?
- What's in the future for stress?
In This ArticleVaginal Bleeding Article
- Vaginal bleeding facts
- What is normal vaginal bleeding?
- What is abnormal vaginal bleeding?
- What conditions cause abnormal vaginal bleeding in women who are ovulating regularly?
- What conditions cause vaginal bleeding after menopause or abnormal vaginal bleeding in women who are not ovulating regularly?
- What causes abnormal vaginal bleeding during or after sexual intercourse?
- What causes abnormal vaginal bleeding during pregnancy?
- What tests are used to evaluate abnormal vaginal bleeding?
- How is irregular or abnormal vaginal bleeding treated?
Other Causes of Missed Menstrual Period
Find out what women really need.