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Teen Menstrual Cycles: Why Missed Periods, Irregular Periods are Normal

Irregular Period TeenMissed Periods and Irregular Periods are Normal When You’re a Teenager!

Recently, there has been a flood of questions from my teen readers on my popular post, “Reasons for Missed Period – When You’re Not Pregnant.” I want to address the most commonly asked questions to alleviate any worries that teenagers may have about their periods.

Age of Your First Period

A teenager typically gets her first period between 12 and 14 years of age. Some girls can start menstruating as early as 9 years old. Others won’t have their first period until they’re 16 years of age. When you’ll have your first period depends on how fast you’re developing. Some girls are early bloomers; others bloom later. If you haven’t had your period by 16 years old, visit your doctor and find out what’s the hold up. In some cases, however, it may still be normal.

How Long Does a Period Last?

A regular period can last between three to seven days. During the teen years, you can bleed for even longer. Some teenagers have their period for 10 days! The length of your period can change from month to month. The heaviness and color of your flow will also change from the beginning of your period to the end. On Day 1, 2, and 3 of your period, it’s normal for your flow to be heavy. Your menstrual bleeding will become lighter and lighter until your period ends.

Irregular Menstrual Cycles and Missed Periods are Normal

In the first two years after you start menstruating (having your period), it’s normal for you to experience an irregular menstrual cycle. You may have a period twice in one month, or you may go without a period for two months at a time. Likewise, you may have your period for only 2 or 3 days one month, and the next time you have your period, it lasts for 7 days. This is normal during the teenage years. Your body is influenced by your growth (and puberty is a time of major growth), so this can change your menstrual cycle from month to month.

The length of time that your period lasts, and the amount of blood that you experience is influenced by the level of hormones that your body is manufacturing. Since a teenage girl is growing, her hormones are going to be fluctuating and this can change the amount of blood and the length of your period from one cycle to the next.

In a nutshell, missed periods and irregular periods are normal in the first two years after you start having your period. Your body will eventually develop a regular cycle. The average cycle length is 28 days, but not every woman follows this textbook rule. A regular menstrual cycle can run from 21 days to 35 days (or longer). If you’re a teenager, as long as you have one period every three months, you should be fine. But always call a doctor if you’re worried about anything.

*Very Important* – If you do not want to get pregnant, always use protection when you have sex. The only 100 percent way to protect yourself against STDs and pregnancy is to NOT HAVE SEX. Take it from an oldie – it’s always best to wait and save yourself for that special person.

When Should You Worry about a Missed or Irregular Period?

Missed periods and irregular periods can be normal in teenagers, but you should consult a doctor if you’re a teen and you haven’t had your period for at least three months. This may be a sign of a reproductive problem, like premature ovarian failure.

If you have at least one period within that three month range, you shouldn’t worry. This can be normal, just a byproduct of your fluctuating hormones. Your menstrual cycle will eventually even out, and you will get a normal cycle (although it may not be the perfect 28 day cycle.)

Reasons You May Miss Your Period When You’re Not Pregnant

If you are sexually active and you notice something unusual with your menstrual pattern, there is always a chance that you could be pregnant. Condoms are only 99 percent effective. Birth control pills are only effective if you take them on a regular basis. Skipping a pill can put you at risk for pregnancy.

Other reasons you may experience irregular periods, or missed periods, include excessive exercise, birth control pills, stress, and eating disorders.

Excessive Exercise – If you’re an athlete, you may notice a change in your menstrual cycle if you’re training super hard or exercising all the time. Excessive exercise can result in less bleeding, fewer periods a year, or your periods may stop completely. In most cases, your periods will return to normal within months after you stop participating in the strenuous sport.

If your period has stopped completely and it’s been over six months, you need to go see your doctor to rule out any medical problems.

Birth Control Pills – Sometimes, birth control pills are prescribed to help regulate your period. They can, however, cause you to experience a missed period. Hormonal methods of birth control, which contain the hormone progesterone, can cause you to miss your period.

Stress – Whether you’re in middle school or high school, schoolwork can really stress you out, especially if your parents are putting a lot of pressure on you to succeed. Stress is a normal part of life, but a ton of emotional stress can affect your period. Too much stress in your life may cause you to experience missed periods or irregular periods.

Eating Disorders – If you have an eating disorder, like anorexia or bulimia, they can slow down your bodily functions and cause your period to stop completely. Please contact a doctor or reach out to an adult if you have an eating disorder. You can also reach out to me, and I’ll be here to help you through this to the best of my ability.

PMS Symptoms Can Be Similar to Early Pregnancy Symptoms

If you’re a teenager who is sexually active, you must be aware that there is always a chance that you may be pregnant. A missed period is often one of the first signs of pregnancy. Please take a home pregnancy test, if you are ever worried. If you test negative at first, and your period still doesn’t come, take another test in about a week or so.

Always keep in mind, however, that premenstrual (PMS) symptoms can mimic early pregnancy symptoms. Even for the most experienced woman, it can be difficult to distinguish the two. For example, breast tenderness, fatigue, and food cravings are normal PMS symptoms, but they are also pregnancy symptoms. Nausea and vomiting can also affect you when you’re PMSing, and it’s an early pregnancy symptom. Taking a home pregnancy test is the only way for you to tell whether or not you’re pregnant.

For more, read PMS or Pregnancy Symptoms?

My Recommendations for Accurate Home Pregnancy Tests

If you’re wondering whether or not you’re pregnant, please check my Hip Chick’s Guide to Pregnancy and Baby Store for my recommended home pregnancy tests. I highly recommend  First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test due to its high sensitivity at picking up hCG levels.

If you ever have any questions or worries about your period, talk to your parents and go see a gynecologist who can answer your questions!

About the author: DP Nguyen is founder and editor of Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies. She’s an expert pregnancy and women’s health blogger. She is NOT a medical doctor and does NOT offer medical advice. Connect with her on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

{ 837 comments… add one }
  • Tash June 13, 2018, 8:43 am

    Hi I’m 13 and my last period was 5 months ago I’m not sexually active and I’m kinda worried that I’m pregnant I don’t know how but yeh I’ve started to get really bad heart problems during my period and sharp pains in my pelvis if u could help that would be great to find out what’s wrong with me and I’m to scared to go to the doctor or tell my mum cause she will freak out and I don’t like it when people I don’t know touch me in places I’ve never let anyone touch before yeh so what should I do ????

  • Adrianna May 27, 2018, 10:28 pm

    So I started my period March 6 2018 (I was 12) It lasted about 4 days not even honestly. April 11th I had my second one. That lasted about 4 days too. May 22nd to 23rd I got my usual dark brown discharge but then it suddenly became a tan color for about 2 days then went back to normal color. My entire period just completley stopped right when I was about to start. Is this normal just after getting my period 2 months earlier??

  • El May 19, 2018, 8:58 pm

    So I’m 15 going on 16 and I’ve had my period for almost 4 years and it’s never been regular. It’s always been anywhere from 17 to 40 days apart which is annoying (btw I’m not sexually active) But in the least 9ish months my periods have been coming REALLY light and MONTHS apart. I eat veggies and exercise (not extensively) but nothing’s changing. Should I see a doctor or go on birth control? I would rather do something natural but I don’t know what to do. At school my friends all talk about how annoying their periods are, and it sounds dumb but I feel idk kinda sad I guess because I don’t even really have one to complain about. This school year I have been getting alot of stress from school work plus not alot of sleep, but my irregularity seems kinda extreme for something stress related. And even if it was stress related I don’t know what to do to relive the stress b\c there’s nothing I can do about what is stressing me out. Could this all just be hormones er something? PLEASE help! Thankyou (sry this is so long)

  • Tonia May 15, 2018, 8:36 am

    Hey, i am 17 yrs old turning 18 in august, i have never seen a gynecologist nor had a regular check up since august of 2014 (medicaid issues) so with that being said my issue is my irregular cycle. April 17th 2016 my cycle started as usual(no pains of any sort) I WAS ALSO A VIRGIN but after 7 days it continued.. and continued.. i finally got ahold of some teen vitamins that contained “vitamin K” & it actually stopped it! unfortunately if i missed a day w/o taking them it would start right back up before the next day even started, my cycle finally became regular August 4th 2016 (lost my virginity at this time) but it was regular. MAY 2017 irregular cycle started BACK UP and has not ended yet and it is MAY 15th 2018, but THANK GOD that with all that is going on i never ever ever had any pains of any sort throughout my irregular period.
    Could someone PLEASE tell me what is going on?

  • Aracely Mireles April 27, 2018, 12:27 pm

    Ok hiii i have had my period last month for 3-days and its been 30 days.should i be worried im not sexually active and i dont have sex.what can i do to make my period come?please i need to learn more about this period life?

  • Anonymous April 4, 2018, 2:55 pm

    I’m 13 and normally my periods last 9-13 days and are very heavy and cause me a lot of pain, but now I’m delayed for 6 days I never had sex and I’m in so much pain , some pain caused me not even to be able to stand for a while , I seriously can’t take this pain ! Is this normal for me to always have it heavy painful and severe pain ?

  • Ali April 2, 2018, 5:10 am

    Hi i am 15 years old and i havent had my period in 10 months. I am a bit scared but im too embarrassed to tel my mum. when it hadent come for a few months i thought it might be normal since i do a lot of excercise but now it is passing 10 months since my last period and i am freaking out a little and i need your opinion.

    • Rose April 3, 2018, 6:36 am

      Hello girl, I’m Rose A 13 y/o I’m scared coz I haven’t have my period in 2 months Omyyyyygod. I’m scared if something was wrong with me omygod. Okay my opinion for u is 1st consult your doctor. Then drink water (I’m not sure with this one, but still we need to try it)

  • Lainey April 1, 2018, 12:22 pm

    Okay so I’ve never had a period in March and my birthday is in March so I always say that it’s like my present from Mother Nature.. I dont know the real reason why but I just haven’t. But this March I had sex and I’m really scared because my period is now 1 week late.

  • Jess March 25, 2018, 7:09 am

    Hi there. Im 17 years old, and my period has almost never been regular. It happened to me more than a few times that I would either get my period right on time, or in a more than one month delay. I am not sexually active and I hadnt gotten my period in around two months and a half. Usually if I would get this far without a period I would experience a lot of PMS syndroms but I seem to be perfectly normal and with no syndroms. My parents are very problematic and doubtful of doctors, so its hard to convince them to allow me to get myself checked. My question is- is my case worth checking, or should I leave it alone?

  • Liv March 14, 2018, 11:25 am

    Please help I’m so worried!! I’m 16 and have had pretty regular periods for about 3 years. I haven’t had a period for 2 months now (missed 1 and a week late for this months) and I’m freaking out about premature ovarian failure and early menopause!! (P.s. there’s no chance I could be pregnant)

    • DP Nguyen March 14, 2018, 1:02 pm

      Take a breath! Premature ovarian failure and early menopause are very unlikely at 16. I honestly wouldn’t worry! Usually, in your teen years, your periods can fluctuate. It’s totally normal. BUT If you’re worried, have your mom take you to the gynecologist and he/she can test your blood for your hormonal levels to figure out if something is going on. Often stress can make your periods off!

  • Rashmi February 18, 2018, 9:43 am

    Hi I am 15 yrs old and my periods got started 4 years ago. Since last 2 and half months I did get my periods, i had my board exams due to which I took lot of stress. Is their anything to worry. Should I show it to doctor.
    Please help.

  • Annonymous January 9, 2018, 12:53 am

    Hi, I’m 13 years old and I got my first period in October 2017. When my next one was due it didn’t come, I wasn’t scared because only being my second period I did not expect it to be on time. Since it was due I had a white discharge sort of thing, then it turned brown. I thought this meant it would start again. It didn’t. It kept switching from white to brown. It is now January 2018 and i still haven’t really got my second period. Its now been about 3 months and lots of people say to go to the doctor if it has been 3 + months. But i dont want to. What should I do?

  • Samantha January 2, 2018, 3:21 am

    Hey, I’m twelve years old and I started when I was eleven and had four to six periods then it stopped and it has been almost four months I think, I’m sexually active but have never had sex. Should I be worried? I can’t exactly trust my doctor because he’s a dude and my mom and siblings will tell everyone in my family and maybe even my friends and when my friends know they will rub it in my face, what should I do? Should I be worried or not?

  • Riyanvi verma December 26, 2017, 12:20 pm

    I am 16 I m missing my periods from 2 months and I am a virgin is it safe or not

  • Riyanvi verma December 26, 2017, 12:18 pm

    Hiii I m 16, I m missing my periods from 2 months and I am a virgin, is it safe or not

  • Naomi November 5, 2017, 2:07 pm

    Hi I’m 15, and my period has been delayed for one month and also 5 days late this month and I’m not sexually active and I have pains at my lower abdomen

  • Alex November 4, 2017, 8:42 am

    Mujhe period start hua 14 age m and 3 month mc hua and mujhe ab 2 month se period se nhi hua Pls help us kya Karu m I m worrid about it….

  • marlie October 28, 2017, 10:03 am

    hi!! i’m 15, and i’m sexually active but i DONT have sex. i missed my period, i’m 4 days late now. i’m worried i could possibly be pregnant? i’ve looked it up a lot, and i read that travel and vacation can cause a missed or late period. a couple weeks ago my family drove to florida from indiana and we were there for 7 days, and we got home right around when id usually start. could it really be from travel? my diet changed a lot there, i are a lot more. could that be it? i really am worried.

  • Melani October 21, 2017, 12:41 pm

    I had my period when I was in 7th it had been coming regular. But I missed two months of not getting my period and I had got my period last month but not this month. What should I do?

  • Tasha September 9, 2017, 6:47 am

    Im a virgin but I am still sexually active… I’m 16 and for the first time I’ve missed my period (according to my calendar) and im a little scared that i could be pregnant since i haven’t ever missed a period before but between now and my last period i have been sexually active… So I don’t know whats going on, im probs just paranoid because one of my biggest fears is being pregnant as a teen… I eat normally its been a 3 weeks since i was sexually active, i show no symptoms of PMS so i just need some closure or something to reassure me im just paranoid….

    • Tasha September 9, 2017, 6:59 am

      oh also, i started my period when i was 12 and its been 39 days since i had my last period

  • Khushh August 30, 2017, 5:47 am

    Hi, I m 21 now, my periods started when 6 years ago and from starting my periods are irregular , sometimes it covers a month or more than that, this unusual cycle became usual but I m worried that it may affect my sexual life and can create an issue in pregnancy, I am a virgin but I masterbate, and my periods are normally late for more than 2 weeks sometimes. I am worried for what’s going with my cycle, please answer

  • mia August 16, 2017, 4:04 am

    when i first got my period it lasted a day, every period after that was normal untill recent, ive either missed my period for a month or two or it was very light, like it only lasted for a day or there was very light brownish spotting. should i be worried?

  • Soph August 8, 2017, 5:15 am

    Hi. I have been having my period every 2nd week. So it would come for 7 days then stop for 5-7. Then come back for 7. It been doing it since i was 13. Im almost 15 now. I got my period when i was 11 and ive been have extreemly irregular cycles. Also just recently they have been coming in a thick darck brown colour fot a day and thencoming back to normal. im not sexually active and i dont take and medications nor do i have an eating disorder. I relly want to find out what wrong with me. I dont really want go to the doctors incase they feel around that area and i just feel awkward and idk… but i dont want to have anything wrong with me 🙁

  • Dinah July 11, 2017, 4:20 pm

    Hi , im 16 years old and i used to be getting my period regulary by the exect same date , i have been sexually active and my period is 17 days late and i had a negative pregnancy test , i have food cravings , fatigue and breast tender im really worried and it would be very helpful if someone give me answers as soon as possible because time is killing me :(( , thankyou .

    • balondemu August 31, 2017, 9:10 am

      U have no reason to be worried dia. U are still a tennger and there fore u have hormone changes. Yr body will stabilise ad u will mestrute again. Phone 0782488759

  • Eve July 10, 2017, 2:13 pm

    HELP!!!!!!!!!!!! Hi my name is Eve, i got my period in early December last year just before my 12th birthday and it was normal it lasted for seven days with the 2nd day being heaviest like normal and this continued through january and febuary until march and it is now july. I’m extremely active i swim seen times a week for 2 hours each session swimming around 5km each session with another 3 hours at the gym every week but i have just written a food diary for my swimming coach and he says I’m not eating nearly enough with some days i only consume around 200 calories and i have racently experience abnormaly large bruises at my pelvis. WHAT IS HAPPENING?!

    • Angelic August 4, 2017, 12:39 am

      Wait around 200 calories or 2000 because if you’re eating 200 calories per day while being an active swimmer you would be either dead or anoxeric by now.

  • t June 30, 2017, 9:11 pm

    I’ve had my period since I was in grade 7, my menstruation cycle was pretty regular and I had always kept track of when to expect it, I just finished grade 9 and I’m not sure why I missed a month of my period? it’s a week late and I’m starting to worry, should I? I am also not sexually active or do any sports/exercising outside of PE class.

    • Jen March 26, 2018, 2:50 pm

      Hi I’m Jen and I started my period when I was 11 and I’m 14 now and this is actually the first time I missed my period and I’m not sure what that means!!!! I need help

  • Mira June 24, 2017, 8:53 pm

    When i was 13 i got my periods now i m 16 n suffering from irregular periods but my lower back is paining from 2 to 3 days its a sign of coming periods of because of something else its paining or because of unsafe sex periods are irregular

    • Luiza November 29, 2017, 8:49 pm

      Hi my name is luiza I’m 13 I got my period when I was 12 and I’m virgin I NEVER did that type of stuff but i worry about my period I don’t know why ! But I’ve been with a period with my whole life and it always was st the 22 but it ALWAYS keep getting late my period it is normal should I worry about ???

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