Hello Dr. Kate,
I'm 15 years old and I'm worried about my irregular periods. My first period was when I was 13 years old and it lasted about 3 weeks! Then it came every 3 or so months, but I then went 7 months. When I finally got my period it lasted 28 days in total. I went to the doctor who prescribed me these birth control pills and then my period actually stopped the next day. But then it didn't come for about another 4 months, and in December 2009 I got a period and that lasted 6 days, but by the end of February I hadn't had my period. I'm so worried over this. I read posts about women having cancer or being infertile and it scares me so much, i just want to be like my friends who have periods every month lasting 7 days. I just want to be normal. I haven't seen a gynecologist, but I'm scared, I don't want anyone to look at my 'private parts' or anything like that. Please can you help me?
Fifteen and Infertile?
It's REALLY typical to have irregular periods all throughout your teenage years. Yes, you're at the extreme end of what's normal. But your body isn't used to ovulating each month yet--and when you don't ovulate, you don't get a period. If you're otherwise healthy, I doubt anything else is wrong.
I think that the best thing for you to do is to stay on birth control (pills, patches or rings, whichever you find easiest to take). If you use them in the standard way--three weeks of hormones, followed by a hormone-free (pill-free, ring-free, or patch-free) week--you should see a "period" most months. It may be light, and it may be short, but it will generally be something. The fact that you've had periods at all (even if only a few of them), means you have all the right "parts." We just need to wait for your hormones to get in sync, to give you that monthly bleed that you really want.
If you want to see a gynecologist, for more peace of mind, they DON'T NEED to do a pelvic exam to talk with you about birth control and your periods. You have every right to decline one, and still get care. And if you go to a doctor who insists on an exam, go to a different doctor. They can find out all they need to about your health with blood tests and maybe an ultrasound. But I want you to get help without being afraid to go (even though pelvic exams aren't really bad, I promise).
Best of health,