Why am I having period symptoms but no period?

period symptoms but no period
Medically reviewed by Dr. Ola Tarabzuni

Overview

Experiencing period symptoms without the arrival of menstruation can be both confusing and concerning for individuals. While a missed period might immediately trigger thoughts of pregnancy, various other factors can contribute to this phenomenon. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the potential reasons behind experiencing period-like symptoms without the actual menstrual flow, ranging from common occurrences like pregnancy and ovulation to more severe conditions such as endometriosis and ovarian cancer.

Why do I have period symptoms but no period?

Following ovulation, PMS develops when an ovary delivers an egg into the fallopian tube; estrogen and progesterone levels sharply decline after this stage of the menstrual cycle. There are a few possible reasons why a person may not get their period when they anticipate it if they experience PMS-like symptoms. These include:

Stress

Stress can disrupt the menstrual cycle, leading to period symptoms but no bleeding or irregular or skipped periods. High stress levels can also worsen premenstrual symptoms, making it hard to distinguish between stress-induced symptoms and those of PMS. Additionally, stress can cause other menstrual irregularities like heavy or painful periods. However, as stress levels decrease, menstrual cycles often return to normal. Managing stress through techniques like mindfulness and exercise can help maintain a healthy menstrual cycle.

Hormonal birth control

When using hormonal birth control methods like pills, patches, implants, or intrauterine devices (IUDs), experiencing symptoms akin to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) but no blood is not uncommon. Hormonal birth control operates by releasing hormones, typically progestin, estrogen, or a combination of both, to prevent pregnancy and regulate the menstrual cycle. However, these hormones can influence various bodily functions, potentially leading to side effects that mimic PMS.

Common side effects of hormonal birth control include nausea, abdominal cramps, breast tenderness, and headaches. These symptoms can resemble those experienced during PMS, even if menstruation does not occur. It’s important to note that all types of hormonal birth control, such as combined oral contraceptive pills, progestin-only pills, patches, hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), vaginal contraceptive rings, and birth control shots, can induce period-like symptoms without bleeding.

Pregnancy

Early pregnancy symptoms and PMS symptoms are almost the same (we know this is an unfortunate coincidence). Before your period, you could have symptoms like mood swings, exhaustion, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and breast discomfort or swelling. 

You can take a pregnancy test if, despite missing your period, you’re still having PMS symptoms. You may want to retake the test even if your results show that you are not pregnant because pregnancy hormone levels can take several days to rise.

Uterine Polyps

Uterine polyps are the term professionals use to describe the abnormal growth of the uterine lining. It’s possible for someone with uterine polyps to be symptomless. However, if they do, these symptoms could manifest as spotting, heavy, lengthy, irregular, or irregular periods, as well as problems with conception. 

Similar to PMS, uterine polyps can also induce cramps when you’re not menstruating. 

Perimenopause

In your late 30s or 40s, you might enter perimenopause, the transitional phase before menopause. During this time, your menstrual cycle can become irregular, and you may experience symptoms similar to those of PMS without a period.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

Another disorder that can occasionally lead someone to skip their period and exhibit PMS-like symptoms even when their period isn’t about to arrive is polycystic ovarian syndrome(PCOS)

PCOS is a lifelong hormonal disorder that primarily affects individuals in their reproductive years. This condition causes a person’s ovaries to 

  • Make too much androgens, i.e. male reproductive hormones
  • Not releasing eggs when they should, leading to ovulatory dysfunction
  • Grow more significant with fluid-filled sacs housing immature eggs, called polycystic ovaries 

PCOS symptoms that resemble PMS symptoms include weight gain, acne, and stomach pain. Infertility, an abundance of body hair, and areas of thick skin are other signs. Missed menstruation is another common symptom of PCOS in women.

Concerned about experiencing period symptoms without menstruation? Connect with a healthcare provider for treatment options.

Diet and Exercise

Modifications to your exercise or food habits may also affect your menstrual cycle and cause symptoms similar to the menstrual cycle. Your menstruation can be affected by drastic weight reduction, severe exercise, or hormone disruption.

Endometriosis

The persistent illness known as endometriosis is brought on by the growth of uterine lining tissue outside of the organ. This disorder may lead to infertility and produce pelvic pain akin to excruciating cramps. 

While endometriosis symptoms might differ from person to person, you might have symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, diarrhea, stomach discomfort, nausea, and vomiting that are mistaken for PMS. 

Other signs of endometriosis to be aware of include pain during or after sexual activity, pain when urinating, spotting, painful periods, and heavy periods. It is advised that you speak with your physician if you think you might have endometriosis.

Thyroid conditions

PMS may also suggest thyroid issues without menstruation. The thyroid is a little gland in the neck that resembles a butterfly. It generates thyroid hormone, which controls growth and metabolism, among other body processes. Additionally, the thyroid hormone influences fertilization, ovulation, and menstruation. 

A person may have symptoms that resemble PMS when their thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) or too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism). Tiredness, weight gain, mood fluctuations, anxiety, changes in appetite, constipation, and irritability are some of these symptoms.

Pelvic inflammatory disease

PMS symptoms may indicate pelvic inflammatory disease in the absence of menstruation (PID). An infection of the fallopian tubes, cervix, or uterine lining is known as PID. 

It may occur if an individual has a sexually transmitted infection or bacterial vaginosis (BV), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. PID can also result in a vaginal delivery or surgery. 

PID might make you miss your period and give you PMS symptoms like lower abdominal pain. Fever, pain during intercourse, vaginal discharge, and pain with urination are some other signs and symptoms of PID.

How do you know the difference between period pain and pregnancy pain?

PMS and early pregnancy might have comparable symptoms. This is an analogy.

Bleeding or spotting

While minor bleeding or spotting is uncommon with PMS, it does happen to some people. This might potentially indicate an early pregnancy.

About 15–25% of pregnant women have spotting or light bleeding during the first trimester. This occurs one to two weeks after a fertilized egg inculcates in the uterine lining and is frequently referred to as “implantation bleeding.”

Implant bleeding is far less intense than menstrual bleeding. Contrary to its appearance as a pale pink or brown discharge, menstrual blood appears bright red.

Abdominal pain or cramping

Abdominal pain can be caused by PMS or pregnancy. Additionally, mild to moderate lower abdominal cramping may be experienced by people.

These cramps during pregnancy are caused by the growing embryo stretching the uterus, and they have a similar feel to premenstrual cramps.

Breast changes

Hormone changes brought on by PMS and pregnancy can cause pain, tenderness, sensitivity, swelling, and weight gain in the breasts.

Breast changes brought on by PMS typically go away at the start or finish of a person’s menstrual cycle.

Fatigue

A possible symptom of both PMS and early pregnancy is fatigue. Elevated hormone levels during pregnancy may be the cause of fatigue. Feelings of exhaustion during PMS may be attributed to a serotonin imbalance.

Serotonin levels fluctuate during a person’s menstrual cycle and are involved in mood regulation and the regulation of the body’s sleep cycle. These changes impact some folks more than others.

Changes in mood

A person’s mood may be affected by the hormonal changes that may take place during menstruation and pregnancy, making them feel agitated, depressed, or nervous. Sorrow, indifference, or irritability that persists for longer than two weeks. Severe mood swings that only happen before your period could be an indication of PMDD.

Though far more severe, PMDD symptoms are comparable to those of PMS. Among them are:

Don’t ignore persistent PMS-like symptoms without a period. Connect with an online doctor!

Consult a doctor

PMS symptoms interfering with everyday activities warrant a consult. In that case, if they appear before or after their period, or if their PMS symptoms change suddenly or dramatically, they should consult an online doctor.

It is best to discuss possible causes with a healthcare provider if a person anticipates getting their period but it does not occur. If they think someone could be pregnant, they might suggest a pregnancy test; if not, they might indicate further testing.

Severe cramps in the abdomen and heavy bleeding may be signs of pregnancy issues, including ectopic pregnancy or pregnancy loss. If a pregnant individual experiences any of the following symptoms, get in touch with a provider right away:

FAQs about period symptoms but no period

What counts as a late period?

Depending on your typical cycle, your period should begin 24 to 38 days after your last one if you don’t have any known conditions that disrupt your menstrual cycle. It is deemed late if it is seven days after the scheduled due date. You can regard your late period as a missed period after six weeks.

How long can stress delay a period?

The menstrual cycle may be significantly delayed or absent for a month or more in response to prolonged or chronic stress. Menstrual cycles that are highly irregular and unpredictable are frequent in people who suffer from considerable levels of stress over an extended period of time.

Can you have a period without bleeding?

While it’s uncommon, it is possible to have a period without bleeding, a phenomenon known as “silent menstruation” or “period without flow.”This can occur due to hormonal imbalance, low estrogen levels, medical conditions like PCOS or thyroid disorders, or high levels of stress.

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

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  • Kritz-Silverstein, Donna, Deborah L. Wingard, and Frank C. Garland. “The association of behavior and lifestyle factors with menstrual symptoms.” Journal of women’s health & gender-based medicine 8.9 (1999): 1185-1193.
  • Woods, Nancy Fugate, Ada Most, and GRETCHEN KRAMER Dery. “Prevalene of perimenstrual symptoms.” American Journal of Public Health 72.11 (1982): 1257-1264.
  • SVEINDÓTTIR, HERDÍS, and TORBJÖRN BÄCKSTRÖM. “Prevalence of menstrual cycle symptom cyclicity and premenstrual dysphoric disorder in a random sample of women using and not using oral contraceptives.” Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica 79.5 (2000): 405-413.

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