If you don’t have your period for
more than 3 cycles, it is called amenorrhea. It may be classified as primary or
Primary amenorrhea. Menstruation
never starts at puberty.
- Secondary amenorrhea. This type is due to some physical cause and usually of later onset. Your periods were at one time normal and regular but become increasingly abnormal and irregular or absent.
There are several possible causes of amenorrhea, including:
- Pregnancy. When you are pregnant, you don’t ovulate so your period stops temporarily.
Ovulation problems. These are usually
the cause of very irregular or frequently missed periods.
Birth defect, anatomical defect, or other
health condition. If your period hasn’t started by age 16, it may be due to a
birth defect, anatomical defect, or other medical condition.
Eating disorder. If you have anorexia
or bulimia, you may develop amenorrhea. This is because your body weight can get too
low to sustain a pregnancy. So to protect the body, the reproductive system “shuts
down” because it’s severely malnourished.
- Overexercise or strenuous exercise. If you exercise a lot, your periods may stop due to low body fat content.
- Thyroid disorder. If you have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) or an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) your periods may stop.
- Obesity. If you are overweight, you may have amenorrhea as a result of excess fat cells getting in the way of the process of ovulation.
If you don’t have your period for more than 3 cycles, it is called amenorrhea.
Diagnosis starts with a medical
history and a complete physical exam, including a pelvic exam. Your healthcare provider
will want to rule out other menstrual disorders, medical conditions, or medicines that
may be causing or aggravating the condition. A diagnosis of amenorrhea means that you
miss at least 3 periods in a row, without being pregnant. Young women who haven’t had
their first menstrual period by age 15 should be evaluated promptly. Making an early
diagnosis and starting treatment as soon as possible is very important.
Treatment for amenorrhea may
- Hormone treatment (progesterone
- Oral birth control pills (prevents
- Dietary changes to include increased
caloric and fat intake
- Calcium supplements to reduce bone
- Amenorrhea is characterized by missing your period 3 cycles in a row.
- Primary amenorrhea means a girl doesn’t start menstruating when she reaches puberty.
- Secondary amenorrhea means your periods were normal, but have stopped due to an underlying condition.
- Treatment of amenorrhea depends on the cause but may include hormones, birth control pills, or dietary changes.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
- Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
- Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
- Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your healthcare provider tells you.
- At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
- Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
- Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
- Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
- Know what to expect if you don’t take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
- If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.