Most women have menstrual irregularities, such as heavy bleeding and missed periods, at some point in their reproductive lives. However, you should contact your doctor if you experience the following symptoms:
Menorrhagia (Heavy Bleeding)
Women tend to overestimate how much blood they lose during their periods. The following symptoms may indicate menorrhagia:
- Your pads and tampons are saturated with blood (and need to be changed) more frequently than once every hour.
- Your periods last longer than 7 days.
Amenorrhea (Lack of Menstruation)
You may have primary amenorrhea if:
- You are 16 years old or older and have never had a menstrual period.
- You are 14 years old or older, have not had normal sexual development (development of breasts and/or pubic hair), and have never had a menstrual period.
- You have not had a menstrual period, and it has been at least two years since you went through puberty (normal sexual development).
During early adolescence, it is common for menstrual periods to be irregular, at least for the first 18 months after the first period (menarche). It is also common for menstrual periods to be irregular as you approach menopause (usually between the ages of 40-58, sometimes slightly earlier or later). Menstrual periods also stop during pregnancy.
If you are not pregnant or entering menopause, you may have secondary amenorrhea. This may be the case if you had normal menstrual periods, but they have stopped for at least three consecutive months.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
- Review Date: 09/2016 -
- Update Date: 09/17/2014 -