If you are reaching the age of 16 years without ever having menstruated, the chances are that you are developing normally, but a little later than most girls. If you are very athletic or quite thin, menarche could be delayed.
However, because there is a small possibility that you have a hormonal abnormality, consult a physician, especially if other sexual changes also have been delayed - if your breasts and pubic hair have not yet begun to grow, for example.
If you have been menstruating for years and suddenly miss one or several periods, you have secondary amenorrhea. There are several possible explanations for this.
You might be pregnant, perhaps you lost a lot of weight rather quickly or have been exercising a lot, or you may have been under stress. Very obese women sometimes fail to menstruate. You also could be taking a medication that suppresses menses as a side effect.
If you just quit taking oral contraceptives, you may not have a period for several months. In addition, breastfeeding can delay menstruation, and if you are reaching the age of menopause, it would be normal to begin skipping periods.
Secondary amenorrhea due to the above causes is quite common. More serious problems, such as tumors or disorders of the pituitary gland, also can cause amenorrhea, but they are rare.
Failure to resume menstruation after childbirth, particularly if lactation does not take place, may mean that the pituitary gland failed either partly or completely at the time of delivery, a condition called postpartum pituitary necrosis.
If you have been menstruating regularly and your period is more than two weeks late, you may want to see a physician to find out if you are pregnant. However, if you are sure that you are not pregnant and you have no other symptoms, there is no harm in waiting for six to nine months before consulting a physician. Keep in mind that even if you are not menstruating, you could still become pregnant if you do not take precautions.
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