Amenorrhea is the lack of menstrual one or more which have been skipped menstrual cycles. Women who have missed at least three menstrual cycles in a row have amenorrhea, as do girls who have not begun menstruating as young as 15 years old. In this blog we’ll discuss about the Amenorrhea its Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention tips.
Pregnancy is the commonest cause of amenorrhea. Many causes of amenorrhea include reproductive organs disorders or glands that help control hormone levels. Amenorrhea is mostly treated by treatment of the underlying condition.
The principal sign of amenorrhea is the lack of cycles of menstruation. You may experience other signs or symptoms along with the absence of periods depending on the cause of amenorrhea, like:
- Milky nipple discharge
- Hair loss
- Vision changes
- Excess facial hair
- Pelvic pain
When to see a doctor
If you missed at least three menstrual cycles in a row, or if you have never had a menstrual cycle and are 15 years of age or older, check with your doctor.
The main causes of primary amenorrhea include family history, genetics, and lifestyle. Women with the following factors are more at risk:
- A family history of amenorrhea
- A genetic or chromosomal defect. This can affect your menstrual cycle and ovary function. Another example of this is Turner syndrome.
- Severely over or underweight
- An eating disorder
- An extreme exercise pattern
- Bad diet
Pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause can cause secondary amenorrhea. Other possible causes include:
Some birth controls, like pills, injections, or intrauterine devices. These can affect your menstrual cycle during and after use.
- Some medicines for depression and blood pressure
- Chemotherapy and radiation treatment
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Fragile x syndrome or fragile x-associated primary ovarian insufficiency (fxpoi)
- Problems with your thyroid or pituitary gland
- Hypothalamic disease
- Uterine scar tissue
Diagnosis of Amenorrhea
How is amenorrhea diagnosed?
If you think you have amenorrhea, contact your family doctor, or a gynaecologist. If you have never menstruated, your health history will be checked by the doctor and you will do an exam. A routine physical and pelvic check can show signs of puberty.
The doctor will begin a pregnancy test for secondary amenorrhea. If that is negative, then they will do an assessment and check the history of your health.
Additional tests may be required to help rule out or evaluate a cause. The chromosomes are tested by a karyotype test. The mutated gene FMR1 is searched for by a genetic check. Imaging tests may see at the women’s organs. A blood test can check yours:
- Thyroid function (thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, levels)
- Ovary function (follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH, and luteinizing hormone, or LH, levels)
- Testosterone (“male hormone”) levels, which can detect PCOS
- Estrogen (“female hormone”) levels
Amenorrhea treatment methods differ according to cause. You may need to make adjustments in lifestyle, like diet, exercise and stress. Some hormonal drugs and birth control pills can help to cause a period. Others, such as for PCOS, can help cause ovulation. Hormone therapy can help manage your hormones.
Surgery is not popular, but in some cases, it can be required, like:
- To fix genetic or chromosomal abnormalities
- To remove a pituitary (brain) tumour
- To remove uterine scar tissue
Factors which could increase the amenorrhea risk can include:
- Family history: If other women have encountered amenorrhea in your family, you may have inherited a predisposition for the problem.
- Eating disorders: When you have an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia, you are at greater risk for amenorrhea to develop.
- Athletic training: Rigorous athletic training will make the amenorrhea risk greater.
Amenorrhea risk can include:
- Infertility: You can’t get pregnant if you don’t ovulate unless you have menstrual cycles
- Osteoporosis: When your amenorrhea is caused by low levels of estrogen, you may also at the risk of osteoporosis — a weakening of your bones.
Can amenorrhea be prevented or avoided?
Amenorrhea is difficult to avoid. Try maintaining a balanced diet and workout schedule. Whether you are under- or overweight, explore how to find a balance with your doctor. Keep track of your cycles every month, until you begin menstruating. This will help recognize amenorrhea early on and assist in diagnosing and treating you. It’s a good idea even if you’re trying to get pregnant in the future.