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Absent Periods
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onlyzoe posted:
Hi, I am 15 years old and I have had a regular period ever since I started when I was 12. In the past five months, I haven't had my period. I'm still a virgin, I have been somewhat discharging (not much), I haven't felt any itching/dryness etc.. I do get cramps and feel bloated around that time of month. Lately, I've also been having bad headaches, dizziness and nausea/vomiting. I figured it's because of my hormones and just the fact that I am a teenager so it's normal to be irregular? But, all these flu-like symptoms along with it is scaring me. Is this something to be worried about?
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Jane Harrison Hohner, RN, RNP responded:
Dear onlyzoe: The easier question first, OK? The most common reason for a menstrual pattern like you have described is not having an ovulation every month. In a normal cycle, estrogen is produced all month. Estrogen is responsible for building up the lining of your uterus so you have something to shed each month. The good news is that you have enough estrogen to make a lining that does shed usually.

In a normal cycle, progesterone production increases following ovulation and release of an egg.. Progesterone "stabilizes" the uterine lining in preparation for a possible implantation of a new pregnancy. If you are not pregnant that month the levels of estrogen and progesterone fall, triggering the release of the uterine lining—your period.

So, if you do not ovulate, the estrogen build up of the lining continues, but without the usual ovulation associated progesterone. Thus, the hormone levels don't decline, and the lining stays up inside the uterus—your missed period. Alternatively, the built up lining can begin to shed on its own creating erratic bleeding patterns which are usually "too-light" or super heavy and prolonged.

Causes for not ovulating are multifold: thyroid problems, pituitary problems, ovarian cysts, physical stressors (eg sudden increases in exercise, crash dieting), emotional stressors (problems with parents or boyfriends/girlfriends, exams), increased body weight, anorexia, rotating shifts at work, etc.

Onlyzoe, given that you have had super regular periods until 5 months ago it is time for you to see a GYN or even your local county family planning clinic. You could expect a couple of things to happen. First, when you have been several months without a period, a gynecologist may give you some progesterone in a pill form (eg Provera 10 mg for 5 days). Within 48-72 hours after stopping the progesterone your "progesterone blood level" will fall, triggering the release of the lining that has been building up. Many women report that these periods are very heavy-- as though several months of lining are shed. Second, they will see if there is any overt reason for your cycles to have suddenly become absent (eg ovarian cyst, low thyroid, pituitary adenoma, etc.).

In Support,
Jane


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