Diagnosis: possibe rusting insides
June 22, 2006 4:15 AM   Subscribe

On a scale of 1 to 5, how freaked out should I be that I haven't had my period in six months?

The last time I had it was December 10th. I haven't been to see a doctor about it. Until about April, this was due to my typical doctor-avoidance, it'll-resolve-itself philosophy. (And, OK, laziness.) But since then I just don't want to go because I'm really freaked out by the possibilities of what could be wrong with me and I don't want to have to deal with it. WebMD and other health encyclopedias are not horribly instructive about what might be causing this. Has anyone had or known of someone in a similar situation? What did the problem turn out to be? (Please don't tell me their insides were rusting...)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In some circumstances, it's healthy and normal not to get your period for nine months. Any chance you could be knocked up? I've heard a lot of "she didn't know/couldn't admit that she was pregnant" stories.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:17 AM on June 22, 2006

There could be a multitude of reasons why you're not getting your period. Only a doctor will be able to tell you. How old are you? How is your diet? Do you exercise? Are you under a lot a stress? These are all factors in the regularity of your cycle. I myself have never had a regular cycle and found it quite normal to not have my period for months at a time. Until I was accustomed to this happening I went through more than a few home pregnancy tests. My doctor assured me it is not necessary to have a period each and every month. They even have birth control pills which stave it off - think Seasonal.

It could be anything though, from the normal way of your body to something wrong. Talk to a doctor. If there is something wrong you should deal with it now rather than later.
posted by Constant Reader at 4:25 AM on June 22, 2006

Part of the reason you're not getting good answers from online research, I suspect, is that there are lots of things that can cause you to lose your period — some serious, some not. If you do go to a doctor, he'll be able to do tests to rule the more serious ones out, but we aren't in a position to tell the difference.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:38 AM on June 22, 2006

Hurry to a doctor. If it's nothing, it's nothing. If it's something, it could get worse every day you wait.
posted by pracowity at 4:40 AM on June 22, 2006

are ya eating? if your body weight or fat % is too low, that could cause it. go to the doctor.
posted by chelseagirl at 4:46 AM on June 22, 2006

When I was using depo-prevera, I didn't get my period for about the same amount of time, which was fine. Some other methods of long-acting forms of hormonal birth control suppress your period. Another example is the IUD with hormones, which I believe is called Mirena. (they don't still do implants, do they?) If you are not using birth control of that type, see a doctor.
posted by crazycanuck at 4:55 AM on June 22, 2006

I went through a time when I was super stressed out and not eating enough, and didn't get my period for about that long, if not a little longer. Turned out that really was the entire cause, and when I started eating normally and not stressing everything went back to normal. It can't hurt to get yourself checked out, though.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 5:02 AM on June 22, 2006

If you've recently switched birth control or any other medication or made a radical change in diet or exercise, a 2.

If you're not on birth control at all, a 5, because the window for getting an abortion is pretty much closed now.
posted by pieoverdone at 5:23 AM on June 22, 2006

I had a girlfriend in a similar situation. She went from a sedentary lifestyle to an extremely active one and was always exercising. I forgot the weight change involved but it was pretty substantial.
posted by substrate at 5:38 AM on June 22, 2006

Any number of benign things can cause amennorrhea (the medical term for not having a period). Some of the most common (weight loss, some types of birth control, pregnancy) have been mentioned above. You don't state your age, but it could be menopause if you are over 35 or it could be early menopause if you are younger. If you have been doing online research you know that there are other things, some potentially serious, but mostly treatable that it could be. Obviously some or all of the above may not apply to you. The only way to know is to get some real, face to face medical advice. Only then will you know whether or not to worry.
posted by TedW at 6:11 AM on June 22, 2006

You shouldn't be freaked out at all. Just go see your doctor. It could be almost anything, but I can't even tell you how many girls I know who have gone this long without a period without there being anything seriously wrong. Just see your doctor, chances are it's something relatively mild, assuming you're not having any other problems. I'm not a doctor. But I am a chick.
posted by lampoil at 6:11 AM on June 22, 2006

Be a 5. Go to a doctor. As pracowity said, you're not helping yourself by not going to the doctor. Whatever's causing this is going to continue causing it (and possibly getting worse) until you do something about it. Avoiding a doctor because you don't want bad news is shooting yourself in the foot uterus.
posted by Plutor at 6:13 AM on June 22, 2006

Six months is a long time for a healthy woman to go without a period (For the sake of argument, I'm assuming you're not: in the first year of menstruation, anorexic, a serious marathon runner, in chemo, or taking birth control continuously.)

I've now had several friends who ignored such symptoms and it turned out that they had an ovarian cyst, which sometimes require surgery.
posted by desuetude at 6:28 AM on June 22, 2006

I'd say it's a 3. It could be something really bad, but it could be something easy to fix as well. I know my period's done some weird things over the years, and when I go in for a "tune up" doctors have occasionally prescribed me hormones to kick it back into shape. But there's nothing seriously wrong with me, my own hormones just get confused.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:45 AM on June 22, 2006

You have every right to ask your question here, but this is not what AskMe should be for.


(oh, scariness factor: 4)
posted by twiggy at 7:19 AM on June 22, 2006

Endocrine Disease!

I lost my period at age 19 for good.

I was told by doctors I did see back then it was "stress induced". I was told this despite other symptons.

I turned out to have SEVERE PCOS, otherwise known as Stein-Levanthl Syndrome which was not diagnosed til age 30 but Ive had since puberty and it caused other MAJOR havoc. I am also diagnosed with Pseudo-Cushings and have serious thyroid issues. I dare say if I had gotten diagnosed earlier, I wouldnt have faced as many severe health problems.

This IS NOT SOMETHING TO MONKEY WITH. One or two months is different from SIX MONTHS.

Dont just go to a family doctor for this one, get yourself to an endocrinologist.
posted by Budge at 7:36 AM on June 22, 2006

I have PCOS -- before I went on the pill I'd have maybe four periods a year. It's been like that since my first period.

(On preview, my PCOS is not at all as severe as Budge's.)

I'm not saying it's healthy, but I don't think it's emergency worthy. Go see a doctor, but don't be ashamed that you didn't go to a doctor sooner -- most people are way more neglectful of their bodies (you'd be shocked). And if the doctor says "that's normal," but you think that something's not right, get a second opinion.
posted by penchant at 7:43 AM on June 22, 2006

I've had this happen from exercise. But when I was young, like 17. But I'll chime in with the "see a doctor to be on the safe side" crowd.
posted by salvia at 8:05 AM on June 22, 2006

Unless you're pregnant, going six months without your period is a major warning sign that your body is trying to tell you something. I'm guessing that if you recently lost fifty pounds or started hormonal birth control that you would have pieced together that it would mess with your cycle, it sounds from your post that there are no major changes in your life and your period has just disappeared...

... which is never a good sign. It might be nothing, but it could also be something that is potentially serious if untreated that could be cleared up easily with a doctor's visit.

Don't avoid it, just call and explain your situation and make an appointment ASAP. If you feel awkward about not going in earlier, doctors understand that people procrastinate on these things. Getting it taken care of is easier than worrying about it!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:18 AM on June 22, 2006

It could be because you're very skinny. Or oldish. Or pregnant. Or on a particular kind of birth control. Or exercising a lot. Or veryvery stressed. Or PCOS. Or various other things.

This is really hard to answer without more information, and even WITH more information we'd only be guessing. The "possible rusting insides" comment leads me to think perhaps you're a little bit older? It could be menopause. Women do stop having their period eventually, and it can happen earlier in some women than others.

I do suggest this is a case where you just really need to see a doctor, and they can help you narrow down possible causes. As everyone explained, there's plenty of possible explanations that are NOT worth worrying about. Like Menopause. It's a natural & expected part of womanhood. But you'll never know until you know. See a doctor.
posted by raedyn at 8:18 AM on June 22, 2006

It can be related to weight, stress, diet or something even more serious. I'd say definitely make the appointment - it can't hurt.
posted by heartquake at 9:34 AM on June 22, 2006

My fiance didn't have her period for about a year. Around month 2 she went to the doctor and they diagnosed it to her excessive amount of exercise and that she was underweight. She was working out for like 2 hours a day, mostly cardio, and not eating much to compensate for the loss in calories.

We were just friends at the time, but her family and i helped her to eat more / workout less and over a period of 10 months she gained back about 10lbs and started having her period again. Of course, now she's gained another 10 (and she's even more beautiful) and wants to lose weight again. Always a battle i tell ya.

(obligatory: go to a doctor)
posted by escher at 9:40 AM on June 22, 2006

Scariness: 3ish?

An XGF of mine didn't get her period for 5-6 months after she went off birth control - her last day was, crazy-makingly, the last time we had sex in all that time, so were worried about pregnancy, but she didn't want to worry about it and neither did I - so we started worrying instead about the fact that we hadn't worried about it. It was pretty nervewracking and awful right before she saw the gyno.

When she finally went to the doctor she was told that birth control had been regulating her cycle, but that she actually had (developed) a mild hormonal imbalance and tended toward irregular periods, so she'd been self-medicating unwittingly. She was not pregnant, and was told so.

She began menstruating the very next morning, out of the blue as it were.

Stress can play a huge part in such matters - I suspect the timing of resumption of menstruation wasn't coincidental.

In any case, definitely go to a damn doctor! Don't be foolish. Very, very, very few problems get less problematic the longer you ignore them - though insufficiently ripe plaintains would be one such case, of course.
posted by waxbanks at 10:17 AM on June 22, 2006

This happened to me several times (highschool, college, post-college). Turned out to be a hormonal imbalance. Was put on birth control (3-6 months) to even hormones. Last time it happened, 2 years ago, I was diagnosed with PCOS. Metformin has restored my period like clockwork.

The first time it happened my doc kinda yelled at me for waiting so long bc the stuff in you that doesnt come out can start to go bad and that can be dangerous. Think mold or "frog in a blender for 6 months" and you'll probably make an appointment right away. YMMV IANAD
posted by sadie01221975 at 10:19 AM on June 22, 2006

I don't mean to be an oogyboogy person here, but I don't usually menstruate and it's because I have a pituitary tumor. The tumor itself is not much of a problem -- I don't notice it besides the no-period thing, and occasional lactation (very hard to get used to) -- but knowing I have one means knowing that I have low estrogen which means making sure I keep an eye on my bone mass, and knowing what the signs of a growing tumor are [loss of peripheral vision, etc] so that they don't have to do a bunch of tests if something suddenly goes wrong. So yeah see a doctor.
posted by jessamyn at 10:34 AM on June 22, 2006

You haven't told us how old you are. If you're in your late 30's or early 40's, it could simply be menopause, which is normal and not any indication of ill health.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:38 AM on June 22, 2006

Seriously, it could be nothing. Just go see a doctor. In high school I was the only one in my circle of girlfriends who seemed to have a normal period. (I was the only one sexually active, too.) The rest of them would get it, it would disappear for a few months, then come back. It's not that uncommon.

I've read that women these days do have more irregular periods due to the amount of estrogen-like chemicals we are exposed to all the time. If I find a link I will post it here.
posted by frecklefaerie at 12:34 PM on June 22, 2006

When I was 18 and first started having a sex life, I had no period for over 10 months. I kept going to the doctor and they kept finding nothing wrong. It could be that I had just embarked upon my first relationship, just moved out of home, just left the country to go to university in the big city, or some kind of bizarre hormonal reason; at any rate, it did eventually resolve itself. Go see the doctor, and if it's nothing to worry about, your mind will be eased; if not, they can start doing something about it. Either way, you will be glad you went. You won't realise how stressed out you are over not knowing until you actually know what the story is.
posted by andraste at 3:17 PM on June 22, 2006

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