Eating Disorders and Missed Periods

Health care professionals and researchers understand there is a strong connection between eating disorders and missed periods. Those teens with eating disorders and missed periods might be surprised to find eating disorders and missed periods are in most cases related.

Typically women and teens with a normal menstrual cycle should have about 11 to 13 periods each year. However, teens and even women that aren't eating healthy or may be suffering from an eating disorder might find they are not getting their periods regularly if at all. If you are a younger teen and have only been having your period for a year or two, missing a substantial amount of periods each year for the first few years is not uncommon. However, after a couple of years, your bodies hormones should be regulating and providing you with a normal amount of periods each year. Teens with eating disorders will notice their periods only lasting a few days or not showing up for months at a time. This is because the lack of nutrients throughout the body will cause the hormones to be confused and go out of whack. That is why there is such a strong connection between eating disorders and missed periods. 

Eating Disorders and Missed Periods:

If you are a parent and you notice your daughter is not having regular periods, there could always be another medical explanation. However, if any of those are rule out, this can also be a sign that your teen is suffering from an eating disorder. Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia are likely to plague young teenage females and young women. While males and older adults sometimes do have eating disorders, teen females ages 14 to 24 are the the most likely to suffer from this mental illness. If your teen is not having her period because of an eating disorder, this can greatly affect her reproductive system later on in life and can even cause problems with infertility. 

If you are concerned that your teen has an eating disorder and has been exhibiting cases of irregular or completely absent menstrual cycles (amenorrhea), it is a good idea to take them into a health care professional immediately to determine if the lack of a period is due to poor eating habits or an eating disorder. It is relatively easy to know if anorexia or another eating disorder is the cause of the missed periods the teen is no longer having on a regular basis. 

If the reason your teen is no longer having a period is due to an eating disorder, it is time to get treatment before more permanent damage results such as infertility and other health issues like heart problems, etc. Most teens that have an eating disorder do not get treatment in time before more serious health issues occur. As a parent or loved one of the teen, it is important to seek treatment for eating disorders immediately. If you are a teen and you suspect that you have an eating disorder, get help before it is too late. 


Treatment for eating disorders usually involves professional help from psychotherapy, group therapy and in-treatment care in a residential treatment facility for eating disorders. This kind of therapy is usually the most successful because treatment is more intensive. Intense, life-changing therapy is really the only kind that can successfully treat a teen with an eating disorder. Because the issues are both so mental as well as physical, the treatment has to be consistent and intensive. Usually once treatment begins and the individual suffering from the eating disorder begins eating and gaining weight again, they will most likely see the return of their regular menstrual cycles unless permanent damage of some kind has been done. If periods do not return to normal within a year after treatment, it is a good idea to consult a health care professional to determine if there are other health issues involved. Getting a hold on the signs of anorexia before they become this big of an issue is important. However, sometimes the person with the eating disorder is very careful to hide their symptoms. Being aware of all the signs like prolonged missed periods can help in diagnosing those with an eating disorder early to help get the most successful recovery possible. 


Related Article: Warning Signs of Eating Disorders >>