What Is Amenorrhea?

By | July 2, 2018

Amenorrhoea is the absence of a menstrual period in a woman of reproductive age. Physiological states of amenorrhoea are seen, most commonly, during pregnancy and lactation ( breastfeeding ), the latter also forming the basis of a form of contraception known as the lactational amenorrhoea method . Outside the reproductive years, there is absence of menses during childhood and after menopause .

If your doctor says you have “amenorrhea,” it means that you aren’t getting your periods, although you’ve been through puberty, aren’t pregnant, and haven’t gone through menopause.

It’s not about having irregular periods. If you have amenorrhea, you never get your period. Although it’s not a disease, you should tell your doctor about it, because it might be a symptom of a medical condition that can be treated.

Types

There are two types of amenorrhea:

Primary amenorrhea. This is when a young woman has not had her first period by the age of 16.

Secondary amenorrhea. This is when a woman who has had normal menstrual cycles stops getting her monthly period for 3 or more months.

Causes

Many things could cause amenorrhea.

Possible causes of primary amenorrhea (when a woman never gets her first period) include:

•Failure of the ovaries
•Problems in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) or the pituitary gland (a gland in the brain that makes the hormones involved in menstruation)
•Problems with reproductive organs

In many cases, doctors don’t know why a girl never gets her first period.

Common causes of secondary amenorrhea (when a woman who has had normal periods stops getting them) include:
•Pregnancy
• Breastfeeding
•Stopping the use of birth control
• Menopause
•Some birth control methods, such as Depo-Provera or certain types of intrauterine devices (IUDs)

Other causes of secondary amenorrhea include:
• Stress
•Poor nutrition
• Depression
•Certain prescription drugs
•Extreme weight loss
•Over-exercising
•Ongoing illness
• Sudden weight gain or being very overweight (obesity)
•Hormonal imbalance due to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
• Thyroid gland disorders
•Tumors on the ovaries or brain (rare)

A woman who has had her uterus or ovaries removed will also stop menstruating.

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