Amenorrhea – The absence of menstruation
What is amenorrhea?
Amenorrhea happens in females when they miss their monthly periods. Basically, it is the absence of menstrual bleeding.
The absence of a period after menopause or during pregnancy is normal. However, if it happens at other times of a person’s life, then it may be an indication of an underlying medical issue.
There are two types of amenorrhea. Women who have not menstruated by 16 years of age are diagnosed with primary amenorrhea. The term also applies to malfunction in the reproductive tract that prevents menstrual bleeding. If you have not seen your menstrual cycle for three months at a stretch after having regular cycles for nine months, then you may have secondary amenorrhea. Secondary amenorrhea is more common than primary one.
What causes amenorrhea?
There are many potential causes of amenorrhea.
Primary amenorrhea for instance may be caused by anatomical disorders in the sex organs. It may be an indication of malfunctioning or underdeveloped ovaries.
Secondary amenorrhea may be caused by issues with the thyroid or pituitary gland. When these glands function at optimal conditions, they produce hormones that trigger the menstruation process.
Other causes of amenorrhea include:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Too much exercise
- Extreme weight loss
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Ovarian tumors or uterine cancer
- Benign ovarian cysts
- Surgical removal of the uterus or ovaries
- Uterine scarring due to dilation and curettage
- Depression or stress
- Hormonal imbalances
- Use of antipsychotics
Secondary amenorrhea may be caused by natural factors such as breastfeeding, pregnancy, and menopause. The menstrual cycle may also be affected by starting, stopping, or changing birth control.
Diagnosis of amenorrhea
If you have not seen three periods in a row, or you’ve not begun menstruating at 16, then you may want to see your doctor. This may indicate an underlying medical condition that requires treatment.
To diagnose the cause, menopause and pregnancy will first be ruled out. You will also be asked to describe your symptoms and medical history. While describing, be sure to tell your physician about:
- All symptoms that you have experienced
- When you last saw your periods and the duration of these periods
- Medications that you’ve used or are currently using, including birth control
- Exercise routine and recent changes that you have done to your diet
- Any emotional issues that you may be facing
You may undergo a pelvic exam. Routine diagnostic tests such as imaging, blood and urine tests may be carried out.
The treatment recommended for you may depend on the underlying cause of the disorder. If it is linked to obesity, then your physician will ask you to start a weight-loss program. If it is due to excessive exercising or extreme weight loss, then you may be asked to modify your exercise regimen or gain weight. Your physician may also prescribe medications, talk therapy, or other treatments to help you manage stress, depression, or eating disorders. Your physician may prescribe medications to treat thyroid gland disorders or hormonal imbalances. Such medications include surgery, hormone replacements, or surgery. Uterine or ovarian cancer may be treated with medications, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Surgery or medication may be used to treat other conditions that can trigger this disorder.
You can prevent this disorder by maintaining your weight, eating a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, and managing stress. Consult your physician on any issues you may have concerning your menstrual cycle.
Though missing a period may not seem like a health crisis, it may constitute health risks. It is linked to changes in the hormonal system, then it may affect your bone density, putting you at risk of fractures and osteoporosis. It can also make it difficult to get pregnant. In many cases, this disorder can be treated, the same applies to its underlying causes. Consult your physician for more information about your specific condition.