What Is Amenorrhea?
Amenorrhea is the
term for a woman missing a monthly menstrual period. Not having a period during
pregnancy or after menopause is normal. But missing periods at any other time can
be a symptom of a medical issue.
There are two
types of amenorrhea. Primary amenorrhea
is when a woman doesn't begin her menstrual cycle by age 16. Secondary amenorrhea is when a woman
misses her monthly period for three consecutive months after having normal
cycles for the previous nine months. Secondary amenorrhea is more common.
Amenorrhea has many
potential causes. For primary amenorrhea, a common cause is a structural
problem with the sex organs, such as underdeveloped or malfunctioning ovaries. Another
common cause can be a problem with the pituitary gland, which produces a
hormone necessary for menstruation. Anorexia nervosa, malnutrition, or over-exercising
may also cause secondary amenorrhea. Tumors and illnesses like cystic fibrosis
are other possible causes.
breast-feeding, and menopause can cause secondary amenorrhea. Starting,
stopping, or changing birth control can also affect menstruation.
In young women, common
causes of secondary amenorrhea are over-exercising and extreme physical training.
Having a poor diet, or not consuming enough calories, is another cause.
Other causes of
secondary amenorrhea are:
or certain medications
or ongoing illness
of the uterus
of the ovaries or uterus
amenorrhea can also be caused by uterine cancer, ovarian tumors, or thyroid or
other gland issues.
Missing a period
can be a sign of a serious health condition. You should see your doctor if
you’ve missed three periods in a row or are 16 years of age and haven’t yet
Your doctor will
first need to rule out pregnancy, menopause, or another normal change. He or
she will ask you to describe your symptoms and medical history. You will have a
pelvic exam. Urine and blood tests are also possible. Be sure to tell your
doctor about your regular cycle, including when your last period was and how long
they generally last. This will help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.
Your doctor will
also want to know about medication and drug use, including birth control. It is
important to discuss changes to your diet or exercise routine, and any emotional
challenges in your life.
on the cause. For obesity-related amenorrhea, a weight-loss program is usually
suggested. For amenorrhea caused by extreme weight loss or exercising, your
doctor will recommend weight gain or less exercise. Emotional care can help with
depression, stress, or issues related to extreme exercise or dieting, such as
anorexia nervosa. Hormone and gland-related issues can be treated with prescription
medication or other specific treatment plans. Surgery may be needed if
amenorrhea is caused by structural issues or tumors.
amenorrhea, certain medications, herbs, or alternative therapies can help
stimulate menstruation. Your doctor will tell you about appropriate options.
usually treatable, depending on the underlying issue. While missing a period may
not seem like a health crisis, stopping menstruation carries some health risks.
The main risk is loss of bone density. This can lead to fractures. Untreated
amenorrhea can lead to osteoporosis later in life. Amenorrhea can also make getting
amenorrhea, attempt to maintain a normal weight, exercise regularly, learn to
manage stress, and live a healthy life. Make a habit of getting regular pelvic
exams, including a Pap smear. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have
about your menstrual cycle.