Reasons you don’t have your period yet

Primary amenorrhoea is the failure of your first menstrual period (menarche) to arrive. It is normal for girls to start their periods between ages nine and 12, so when this doesn’t happen, it might mean something isn’t quite right. Typically there is no need to panic before age 15 – some of us are just a little late to the party.

Sometimes other puberty signs will be missing too (underarm hair, pubic hair, growth of labia, etc.), in which case this should be discussed with a doctor.

Not getting a period after age 15 means something is going wrong somewhere along the line. Sometimes these things can be serious, like a missing uterus, or they could be more manageable, like being underweight.

Reasons your period may not arrive

There are a handful of causes, and they all have quite different implications.

  1. A blockage or narrowing of the cervix (cervical stenosis), causing blood to back up in the uterus
  2. The hymen completely covers the vaginal opening so no blood can exit the vagina (an imperforate hymen)
  3. The vagina, uterus or cervix are missing (vaginal agenesis, uterine/Mullerian agenesis, cervical agenesis)
  4. The vagina, uterus, or cervix are not properly formed (vaginal hypoplasia, uterine hypoplasia, cervical hypoplasia)
  5. A transverse vaginal septum that blocks flow of blood out of the vagina
  6. The ovaries aren’t working properly – possibly due to tumours or hormone dysregulation – no ovulation generally means no period
  7. The areas that deal with hormones are not functioning properly (hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, adrenals) – dysfunctional hormones means no ovulation/disrupted hormone triggers
  8. Low weight – those with low-body-fat/weight don’t have the required percentage of body fat for proper hormone production
  9. Over-exercising
  10. Unknown causes
  11. Pregnancy
  12. Genetic conditions such as Kallmann syndrome or anatomical abnormalities caused by genetic defects

As you can see, there is quite a range of reasons why you might not have your period yet. So next is an appointment with your doctor to find out why.

Also check out secondary amenorrhoea, since some of these like over-exercising and low weight are covered in more detail there.

What the doctor might discover

  • Underlying illness – cystic fibrosis, heart problems, chronic illness
  • A genetic blip that has resulted in you growing differently in the womb (see DSD for more information)
  • Poor nutrition and low weight (possibly linked with disordered eating or illness)
  • Tumours

A physical examination will be done, with questions regarding your medical history. A pregnancy test will be done. Blood tests may include a range of hormone tests, including oestrogen and thyroid hormones. Imaging scans may be taken to establish what lies beneath your flesh in your pelvis – if you are missing organs or even have duplicates.

Treatment and management of primary amenorrhoea

Treatment depends entirely on why your period was missed, so see the separate sections for each topic for more information, and see your healthcare practitioner.

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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)