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Sunday, 19 June 2011

I Missed My Period - Now What?

Written by  Dr. Oscar Taube, M.D.

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QI'm 17 years old and I have never had sex but I've been with this guy off and on for about a year and I went to his house and we fooled around. His penis never entered me but I didn't have my period last month. I've been very stressed out totally between working two jobs and everything. I also have been taking diet pills. Do you think there is any chance I could be pregnant? It may sound stupid but I'm a little worried. I don't get sick in the morning or anything. What's wrong with me?


AYour question brings up several health concerns; let's start with the pregnancy question. I'm assuming that when you say you've never had sex, you mean that you've never had sexual intercourse (the man putting his penis into the woman's vagina). Of course, sexual intercourse is the most common way for a woman to become pregnant.

However, if a man ejaculates (or shoots out his sperm, or "comes") when his penis is near the outside of a woman's vagina, during foreplay (or "fooling around"), pregnancy can occur. It's MUCH less common than with sexual intercourse, but it can occur. So, you are NOT stupid to worry about this. The answer to your worry is to take a pregnancy test. There are many reliable tests for your purchase at the drug store, or you can be tested at your doctor's office. (Later on in this answer, I've suggested some other reasons why you might want to see your doctor.) The modern pregnancy tests are very accurate, and turn positive very early in pregnancy.

As I understand your question, you "fooled around" last month, and after that you didn't get your period. If you haven't "fooled around" since then, the pregnancy test will answer your question - i.e if you DID get pregnant last month "fooling around", the test will be positive; if the test is negative, it means you definitely didn't get pregnant then.

Whatever the result of the test is (and it's probably negative, or "not pregnant"), it's important to be tested early. If the test is negative, you'll be relieved that you're not pregnant! If the test is positive, and you are pregnant, it's important to know this as soon as possible.

Your Choices If You Are Pregnant

There are 3 choices a pregnant teen can make about the pregnancy: 1. to continue the pregnancy, and bring up the baby; 2. to continue the pregnancy and have the baby adopted or, 3. to terminate the pregnancy. Whichever option you choose, it's important to get medical care AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

If you're not pregnant, then why have you missed your period? From reading your question, there are two possible reasons. First, the hormones that cause a woman to have a monthly period are released into the bloodstream by triggers deep inside the brain. These triggers in your brain are affected by your cerebral cortex, the wonderful part of our brain that makes us think, feel write poetry, worry and be "stressed out."

So...the stresses that you've been going through certainly can make you miss a period. One possible solution to your stress problem is to take a careful look at your activities. Are there any ways that you can change your activities to cut down on your stress? For example, are you comfortable with the sexual activity in which you are engaging with your boyfriend? Do you feel you have gone too far too fast? Is it possible that you are being stressed out by feeling "not ready" for sexual activity?

Or that you are stressed out by the possible consequences of sex? You wrote to me because you are afraid you may be pregnant - even though you've never had intercourse. Obviously, the possible outcomes of sex seriously concern you. Maybe you should reconsider whether the stress is worth it.

Also, are you working two jobs because you need the income to live on, or are the jobs bringing in spending money for "fun" purchases? Of course it is wonderful to have extra spending money, but is the stress from holding two jobs worth it? These are questions you'll need to answer.

Now for the second possible reason for missing your period. When a young woman is dieting and is missing periods, I am concerned about an eating disorder, particularly the eating disorder known as Anorexia Nervosa. Have you lost a good deal of weight recently? Do you have an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though you are underweight? Do you have a distorted view of your body, compared with the way others see you? In other words, does everyone else consider you of average weight or slim, and only YOU consider yourself fat? If you've answered yes to any of these questions, you should see your doctor to be evaluated for an eating disorder.

Finally, even if you don't have an eating disorder, and simply want to lose a few pounds, remember that changes in diet and lifestyle (such as watching less TV) are the best methods for weight reduction. Diet pills are neither safe nor effective.

Please see your doctor to determine why you haven't gotten your period.

Best of Luck,

Dr. Taube

Also see: Crisis Center / Pregnancy and Crisis Center / Eating Disorders

Last modified on Sunday, 19 June 2011 15:03
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Dr. Oscar Taube, M.D.

Dr. Oscar Taube, M.D.

Dr. Oscar Taube is the Clinical Director and Director of Medical Education at Greenspring Pediatric Associates (Sinai Hospital Pediatric Outpatient Department) in Baltimore, and the Coordinator of Adolescent Medicine at Sinai Hospital's Department of Pediatrics. He is also an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

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