I’m not pregnant, but I haven’t had a period for six months. Why pregnancy?

I’m not pregnant, but I haven’t had a period for six months. Why pregnancy?

If a woman does not have a period at all for six months, this is called amenorrhoea and is a clear indication that there is a hormonal problem because ovulation has in effect ceased. If this happens to you, you must always see your GP. However, in practice, you should not wait for six months but instead consult your doctor if, at any time, your cycle changes in nature or you develop an unusual delay between your periods. Amenorrhoea can be caused by several factors, including:

You may need some hormone treatment to enable your body to start ovulating again. It may also be that by changing a particular aspect of your lifestyle and/or diet, you can restore your hormonal balance and start ovulating again. However, in the first instance, before assuming that the disruption in your cycle is down to lifestyle causes,

I would always advise women to seek medical advice.

Painful periods

The medical term used to describe painful periods (including severe menstrual cramps) is dysmenorrhoea. Painful periods are more likely to occur when a woman’s cycle is irregular and can be extremely uncomfortable, with severe pain felt in the lower back, abdomen, and inner thighs. This may be particularly so if the menstrual cycle has been very long, as there has been more time for the hormone progesterone to cause the build-up of a thicker womb lining. Painful periods can also be caused by underlying conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids (see pages 22-23).

Up to 60 per cent of women suffer from menstrual cramps, and some end up doing so in silence for years without realizing that they actually have a medical condition that affects their ability to conceive. If your periods are very painful, you should see your GP to arrange for specialist tests to be done rather than accepting the pain as normal and resorting to the use of painkillers.

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