Missed Periods – A sign of fertility as well as infertility

For many women of childbearing age, pregnancy is first suspected when their menstrual cycle goes haywire.

Missing your monthly period by a few days is not a significant concern. We are talking about missed periods by the weeks or months.

When this strikes you, the first question to ask yourself is “how old am I?”

The underlying reasons of a missed period vary by the age.

If you have just stepped into puberty, your periods may not have a fixed schedule as your body takes time to adjust itself to its new condition, usually taking 6 months to a year to do so. Unless you have had sex the month before, this should be normal. See a doctor should it take more than a year to adjust or if your last period was more than 6 months ago.

Speaking about missed periods in a woman in her late 40’s, menopause comes first on the list. Missed periods is not a menopause unless your last period was 12 months ago. Like the irregularity you have faced in your early years of puberty, your body has the same reason when it comes to menopause; that is, trying to adjust the body to stop menstruating.

Delayed periods are normal at the start and at the end of your fertile life

Missed periods occurring at other than the above mentioned ages (i.e. somewhere between 18 and 45 years old) can be worrisome. Whether it’s normal or not is a big question. If you are breastfeeding, pregnant or are on contraceptive pills, then yes, it’s normal.

Delayed menstruation can also be caused by reasons as simple as stress, overweight, underweight or anorexia, all of which may sometimes be overlooked. Excessive exercise, such as those done by athletes, may also delay menses.

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If you think none of the above applies to you, then let us move on to more serious, but not uncommon problems which may call for a doctor’s attention. The most common problem women face is cysts growing in their ovaries, medically termed ‘polycystic ovarian syndrome’ or abbreviated as PCOS. Cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that develop in a woman’s ovaries. The word ‘poly’ refers to more than one cyst in growing in the ovary. Nevertheless, the presence of even one cyst may disturb your menstruation, let alone if it is multiple. Cyst tends to get bigger when the ovary fails to ovulate and release the egg into the Fallopian tube.  This is caused by, and in turn may lead to hormonal imbalances.

Delayed menstruation can also be caused by reasons as simple as stress, overweight, underweight or anorexia, all of which may sometimes be overlooked.

If you have had any abortions, cleaning of your womb (D&C) after a miscarriage, hysteroscopy or any other instrumental procedures done on your cervix or womb, adhesions are more likely suspected. Adhesions are fibrous bands forming between tissues and organs due to scarring. These block the flow of blood during menses and may trick you into thinking that you have missed a cycle. This, as well as PCOS, may cause infertility. If you are trying to conceive, it is wise to consider these possibilities.

Other less common causes of missed menstruation are diabetes, thyroid hormones imbalance, intestinal problems, tuberculosis and liver diseases. Don’t forget that side effects of various medications or drug abuse can also be a cause.

So, should you see a doctor right away? Don’t rush, don’t stress yourself up. Relax. Take a deep breath. Try to think of the possibilities of being pregnant. You might want to get yourself a urine pregnancy test to make sure pregnancy is not the cause of your missed periods.

If you’re overweight/underweight, reducing your weight/gaining weight helps restore normal cycles and fertility. Check your body mass index to be sure. Still not helping? Still not sure what is the cause of your missed periods? Looks like it’s time for you to see a doctor for further tests.

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796 Comments

  1. Hi, I’m 36 years old and married. We’ve been trying to have a baby for more than 8 months already. Now, I am 11 days delayed but been having spotting since the 5th day of my delay. I took a test on the 6th day but it came back negative. I am too confused. What could be the possible reason for this? I am also having lower back pains and a bloated feeling in my tummy.

    • It is still possible that you are pregnant. It is a little too early to show up as positive. You can re-test again after 1-2 weeks.
      If you are concerned, please see a doctor.

  2. Hello my name is Alexa. I have had irregular periods sense I first started. I’m 21, and married we tried to conceive this month and my date due was 10/20 it is now the 26th and still no period and I took two tests from first response but they both came back negative. I have cramps and boob tenderness and back ache and headaches but still no period. Please help me in understanding what is going on.

  3. Hi I am 28 year old. My weight is 67 kg. I have always had delayed periods. Always there is delay by around 9 days. But menstruated every month. Now i am trying for pregnancy. But from last year my periods are quite irregular. Don’ t know the exact readon. But i suddenly started doing yoga, lots of sun salutations, earlier when i suddenly started running/ jogging my periods vanished. The maximum gap in periods i have faced is 2 n half months.. i did pregnancy test twice.. it is negative… please advice solution to regulate my periods. Thanks

    • There are many possible reasons for irregular periods. My best advice is for you to see your doctor to find out what is wrong before embarking on any home solutions.

  4. Hello,
    My period is regular I have experienced it coming a day or two early as well. I also experienced it coming late. I had intercourse on June 20 I was not ovulating and my period came a week later on time. Now we are in July and my period is supposed to be here and it is three days late. I am feeling nauseous as well. What should I do?

    • You are afraid you are pregnant? Wait a while more. If you period still does not come, do a home pregnancy test.

  5. Tilly

    Hello, I’m confused! I’m 47 with regualr periods until this one. I’m now 12days late, ive had occasional brownish spotting that didn’t require any sanitary protection. At the weekend I took a pregnancy test (not a very sensitive one), which was negative and today I accidently used an ovulation predictor test strip instead of a pregnancy test…the ovulation strip was a definite positive. I’ve read that this could indicate pregnacy as well as ovulation but without a period how could I be ovulationg? Many thanks

    • Hi Tilly,
      An ovulation test doesn’t test for pregnancy, just for ovulation. If you start to have irregular mensus at this age, it could be because you are entering the perimenopausal period.
      You can opt to wait and to observe your period cycles for now, or you may come into clinic for a hormone blood test, to check your menopausal state.

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