what does missing periods mean?

I know this girl (my SO), who for months at a time, doesn’t have a period. She will then have her period and months will go by again.

Every month, however, she will exhibit signs that she is having her period, except for the actual physical evidence. She will have back pain, very slight cramps (when she does have her period her cramps are worse, and as she says it “everyone has an attitude”.

When she was in highschool she was on the pill and her period would come every month. It’s been six years since she was last on the pill, and ever since she’s been irregular.

I’m concerned to say the least. Anyone out there know what could be wrong with her? I don’t want to unnecessarily worry her or pester her with doctor’s appointments until I know more about what could be wrong with her.

When I saw the thread title, I was all set to reply, “A run-on sentence.” :smiley:

What you need is to hie thee to a gynecologist right away, not a grammarian.

Irregular periods are common, and normal, when a girl is being to menstruate and when a woman is entering menopause.

Irregular periods in between those two endocrinologic bookends can mean many things. Often it is a sign of so-called polycystic ovarian syndrome, and sometimes from obesity per se. As stated, though, there are numerous causes running the gamut from intense exercise to endocrine syndromes to serious disease outside the endocrine system itself.

My opinion is that any woman with this problem should see an endocrinologist or a gynecologist at least once.

I neglected to mention that you may wish to do a web search on “irregular menses” or “irregular periods”. Lots of hits, some better than others.

Ok, my SO is not obese, she exercises, but not intensely, I don’t think it’s an endocrine issue but to be fair I don’t know what that would be like. What’s polycystic ovarian syndrome?

Oh, do a google on PCOS if you must know. There are a zillion things that could cause menstrual irregularities. You can’t tell by looking at her whether she has an endocrine problem or not.

Look, if she is as irregular as you say, she needs to see a doctor.

For some women, irregularity is normal. But only a doctor can determine if this is the case for her.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a pretty common disorder of woman that’s often, but not always, associated with obesity. The hallmarks of PCOS are irregular periods, hirsutism (excessive or unwanted male type hair growth such as mustache area, lower abdomen, etc.), and infertility, or at least difficulty conceiving.

The common link in PCOS may be insulin resistance and compensatory elevated insulin levels (the woman’s body attempts to overcome the resistance by producing more insulin). For a number of reasons, the high levels of insulin may cause the various manifestations of PCOS.

The syndrome is important to recognize since it’s been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. Of course, the hirsutism itself is a major problem for many women.

There are zillions of links out there. Just search “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome”.

I apologize for the nasty tone of my above post.

I was thinking about posting a thread like this last week, because I was about 2 weeks late. I’m usually very regular.

But then Aunt Flo came, and I was relieved.

I went through the same thing for years and for some reason a year ago I started having regular periods again, not exactly 28 days apart but definately more consistent than it’s been for at least the past 10 years. I’ve been to many Doctors, taken many tests and no one really ever gave me a specific reason why this was happening. At some points I went for six months without a period. It definately scared me and I thought maybe I wouldn’t be able to have children (which I still don’t know yet).

My suggestion would be to have an ultrasound done, check the ovaries and of course for PCOS and tell her not to worry too much. It is pretty common as far as I know and hopefully like mine, hers will return :slight_smile:

This reminds me that I should have said earlier that, despite its name, polycystic ovarian syndrome need NOT be associated with polycystic ovaries. IMO, the term PCOS is unfortunate and misleading. (This type of situation is common in medicine where understanding of a disease often happens only after the labeling of the disease, eg. adult onset diabetes, vasovagal syncope, lupoid hepatitis, non-tropical sprue…)

Thyroid disorder can screw it up.Maybe a google search on
“amenorrhea” would be more helpfull.

What are you aftraid it might be?

Is she anorexic or even just very, very thin/underweight? This can cause periods to stop altogether or become irregular.

But like the other posters have said, she needs to see a gynaecologist and soon. It may be that everything is OK, but there’s no point risking your future fertility on a problem that could receive treatment now.

I went to the OB/GYN for this exact problem, and she said that irregular periods have nothing to do with overweight or obesity.

Like I said, I had the asme problem. We figured that my body just wasn’t sensitive to the hormone levels, even though they were all exactly normal. I didn’t have a period for over 2 years! So they put me on the pill (because every thing else was 100% healthy and normal) and I started my period like clockwork.
Her problem may be as simple as not enough hormones, or not being “sensitive” to said hormones.

I disagree.

I am not saying that all, or even most, women with obesity have irregular periods. But, do some women with obesity have irregular periods? - yes. Does weight loss restore normal cycling in obese women? -yes. Here is one reference in the form of a review article. Here is an online reference (look under “Obstetric and Gynecologic Complications”)

Thanks all, I now have some good starting points.
In answer to some of your questions, she is average weight.
I suppose I’m worried because I don’t want it to be cancer or any other serious illness. Her cousin had ovarian cancer and had to have it removed, but to tell the truth I’m not sure that I can put too much faith in her cousin-she’s a complete liar.

I’m also worried that we won’t be able to have kids and all that good stuff. I’m going to do some research today to see if I can find out anything more.

Or, like some have mentioned, it could be that she’s natrually irregular for whatever reason. Before she was on the pill, was she irregular then? How about the cycles of the other women in her family? If they’re known for irregularity, it may be nothing more serious than that’s the way she was put together.

But, it is always a good idea to get a good checking-over by a doc: people should have that done every so often anyway to help catch things before they get serious.

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