Amenorrhea is missing one or more periods. If you are older than 15 and haven’t gotten your first period (primary amenorrhea) or you’ve missed a period for a few months (secondary amenorrhea), talk to your healthcare provider.
Causes of Amenorrhea
Common causes of primary amenorrhea include:
Chromosomal or genetic problem with the ovaries (the female sex organs that hold the eggs).
Hormonal issues stemming from problems with the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland.
Structural problem with the reproductive organs, such as missing parts of the reproductive system.
Common causes of secondary amenorrhea include:
Pregnancy (which is the most common cause of secondary amenorrhea).
Some birth control methods, such as Depo Provera, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and certain birth control pills.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer.
Previous uterine surgery with subsequent scarring (for example, if you had a dilation and curettage, often called D&C).
Types of Amenorrhea
There are two classifications of amenorrhea:
Primary amenorrhea is when you haven’t gotten a first period by age 15 or within five years of the first signs of puberty. It can happen due to changes in organs, glands and hormones related to menstruation.
Secondary amenorrhea is when you’ve been getting regular periods, but you stop getting your period for at least three months, or you stop your menses for six months when they were previously irregular. Causes can include pregnancy, stress and illness.
Symptoms of Amenorrhea
Nipples leaking milk.
Excess hair growth on your face and body.
Diagnosis of Amenorrhea
Blood tests to check hormone levels and detect thyroid or adrenal gland disorders.
Genetic testing, if you have primary ovarian insufficiency and are younger than 40.
MRI, if your provider suspects a problem with the pituitary gland or hypothalamus.
Treatment of Amenorrhea
If your period stopped because of menopause or pregnancy, your provider will not need to treat it. In other cases, your treatment will depend on the cause and may include:
Losing weight through dieting and exercise (if excess weight is the cause).
Gaining weight through an individualized diet plan (if extreme weight loss is the cause).
Stress management techniques.
Changing exercise levels.
Hormonal treatment (medication), as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Surgery (in rare cases).
In addition, your healthcare provider may recommend some treatments to help with the side effects of amenorrhea:
Estrogen therapy to relieve hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
Calcium and vitamin D supplements to keep bones strong.