Over 90% of women experience at least one symptom of PMS, like bloating, cramping, fatigue, or dermatological changes. Most of the time, these symptoms alert you to what’s coming next: your period.
What happens when you experience PMS symptoms but no period? Is this normal or is it something you should talk to your doctor about?
Believe it or not, getting PMS symptoms like PMS cramps with no period can indicate a number of things, not all of them dire. It doesn’t inherently mean that you’re pregnant or that your health is suffering, and many women can still find relief from these symptoms.
Now, let’s talk about some of the reasons why you might have PMS symptoms that aren’t followed by a normal period.
Every once in a while, your body may go through all of the normal hormonal changes associated with ovulation, but won’t actually release an egg. Without that egg, your body won’t start building the protective uterine lining it typically sheds during menstruation. Some women may still experience some bleeding in spite of anovulation, but it’s not uncommon to get period symptoms but no blood in response to anovulation.
Anovulation isn’t abnormal, but regular anovulation can make getting pregnant difficult. Talk to your doctor if you are trying to get pregnant or hope to get pregnant in the future and believe that you experience anovulation frequently.
Hormonal Birth Control
If you have an IUD or take a hormonal birth control pill, your doctor may have mentioned that you could experience irregularities with your period. It often depends on the type of hormonal birth control you’re using and your body’s natural hormone levels.
For example, many women who have IUDs experience PMS symptoms but have few or no periods. Women taking hormonal birth control pills may experience few or no periods or their periods may become irregular or light. Talk to your gynecologist about the birth control you are using and how it might be affecting your period each month.
Stress doesn’t just distract you during the day or make it hard to sleep at night. When you are experiencing severe or prolonged stress, your body starts to produce more of the stress hormone, cortisol. Excess cortisol can change the way your body produces and uses other hormones, which can throw your typical menstrual cycle off its usual track.
Stress doesn’t just arise when we’re dealing with a huge life change or painful experience. Stress can creep in at any time and you may not realize that you’re more stressed than usual until it starts to impact your body.
If you’re used to tracking your period but not the other events in your menstrual cycle, you may be missing another potential source of PMS-like symptoms: mittelschmerz. Mittelschmerz is German for “middle pain” and refers to the symptoms that approximately 40% of women experience around the time of ovulation. In addition to this 40%, who experience Mittelschmerz nearly every month, some women will only get these ovulatory symptoms some of the time.
What kinds of symptoms are associated with Mittelschmerz? The primary symptom is pain, which can be dull or sharp, near one or both ovaries. This pain is easily mistaken for cramping, which can lead you to assume that your period is right around the corner.
There are a few different gynecological infections that can cause pain that feels similar to cramping. For example, some people develop pelvic inflammatory disease as a side effect of sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia. UTIs can also cause pelvic pain in addition to more common symptoms like painful urination.
If you experience what feels like cramping but also develop a fever, nausea, or vomiting, talk to your doctor about a possible infection. If you do have a gynecological infection, a round of antibiotics should do the trick.
This one might sound scary, but it often isn’t dangerous and may not produce any noticeable symptoms at all. With each menstrual cycle, your ovaries form multiple cysts and one releases an egg. The rest tend to dissipate on their own, but this isn’t always the case.
Ovarian cysts can trigger pain that feels a lot like pre-period cramping. On very rare occasions, these cysts can grow so large that they cause the ovary to twist and require surgery. In most cases, however, they won’t present medical problems and you can treat any related pain with an OTC painkiller.
Some women may develop an overgrowth of their uterine lining, also known as uterine polyps. Uterine polyps can cause pain and discomfort associated with PMS symptoms even when you’re not about to start your period.
Your doctor may want to remove uterine polyps using a simple procedure called a hysteroscopy. While polyps aren’t always dangerous, they can make getting pregnant difficult and in rare cases, may become cancerous with time. The good news is that removing them is easy and quick, so you can take control of your uterine health with ease.
PCOS stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition caused by an excess of androgens. Androgens are naturally occurring chemicals in the body that impact things like hair growth and insulin sensitivity, but also ovarian function. PCOS can be the reason why you might be dealing with some of the other conditions on this list, including anovulation and ovarian cysts.
Currently, there is no cure for PCOS. However, some women may find that hormonal birth control can create more cycle regularity and other related issues. If you believe that you have PCOS, talk to your doctor about possible treatments for symptom management.
Though your thyroid is small, it plays a huge role in regulating several different bodily functions, including menstruation. That means that thyroid conditions can cause periods to become irregular and, in some cases, can leave you with PMS symptoms but no period month after month. You may also notice an increase in mood swings, which are easy to misidentify as PMS-related when your thyroid could be the culprit.
Thyroid conditions can have other negative impacts on your health when they aren’t treated. If you believe that you may have a thyroid condition, talk to your doctor and discuss testing and treatment.
If you’ve been hitting the gym hard lately, it’s worth considering the impact that may have on your period. Exercise is touted as one of the best ways to combat PMS symptoms, but a ton of physical exertion can cause some hormonal shifts. If you’ve been working out and lost a lot of weight in the recent past, you may have an answer as to where your period has gone.
Does this mean that you should stop working out? Not exactly. If you miss your period more than three months in a row, talk to your doctor–but if it’s AWOL once or twice and returns as usual, you should be fine.
It’s not surprising that many women jump to thoughts of pregnancy when they have PMS symptoms without a period. For starters, a missed period is often one of the first signs that you’re pregnant, as your uterine lining now has work to do. In addition, many early pregnancy symptoms are similar to PMS symptoms, including cramping, spotting, fatigue, and achiness.
If it’s your usual time of the month, you’re experiencing PMS symptoms, and there’s no period in sight, consider taking a pregnancy test. Keep in mind that while store-bought pregnancy tests can give false negatives, there are also many other reasons why you might not have a regular period.
Ovarian cancer is not common, but it is one of the most deadly diseases affecting women today. Experiencing PMS symptoms without a period could indicate that you have ovarian cancer.
However, a missed period is not one of the earliest or most common symptoms of ovarian cancer. More common symptoms include frequent bloating, significant weight loss, general pain, and urinary problems. If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms in addition to a missed period, talk to your doctor.
Finding Relief from PMS Symptoms But No Period
As you can see, there are tons of reasons why you might develop PMS symptoms but no period, many of which aren’t life-altering or life-threatening. If you’re concerned or want to discuss possible treatments, make an appointment to talk to your doctor.
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