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Abnormal Menstrual Periods

Other than cases of pregnancy, infrequent or absent menstrual periods usually are caused by hormones. Treatment depends on the cause, but can include lifestyle changes or hormonal medications.

Missing or absent menstrual periods, when not due to pregnancy, usually have a hormonal cause. One of the most common of these is menopause, in which a woman stops having periods because her ovaries are no longer producing estrogen.

Other reasons include:

  • Lack of ovulation
  • Excess prolactin secretion by the brain
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Excessive exercise

Rarely, absent menstrual periods can be caused by scarring of the uterine cavity as a result of a medical curettage procedure.

Usually, the reason for absent or infrequent menstrual periods can be determined with a combination of medical history, physical examination and blood tests.

Treatment options are selected once the cause of the infrequent or absent menstrual periods has been identified. Treatment may involve lifestyle changes, such as moderation of diet or exercise habits, and hormonal medications such as oral contraceptive pills, thyroid medication or estrogen replacement therapy.

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Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.