Important Things You Need To Know About Amenorrhea.
The absence of menstrual flow is medically referred to as Amenorrhea (uh-men-o-REE-uh). Some women have very light periods that may not last long. If there is any bleeding, this is not considered amenorrhea. It occurs normally in healthy women during pregnancy, breastfeeding, due to intake of certain contraceptives, or as a result of Perimenopause (skipped periods that occur before menopause).
But in other women/cases, Amenorrhea can be a signal of an abnormal condition, especially if the missed menstruation appears with other symptoms. Nevertheless, Amenorrhea is not a disease, but in some cases, it may be a symptom of another condition.
Types of Amenorrhea
Amenorrhea can be described in two categories:
- Primary Amenorrhea: this involves girls within the teenage age that have not seen their first period by age 14 – 16.
- Second Amenorrhea: this category involves women who have previously menstruated, but observed an absence of their menstrual flow for more than three consecutive menstrual cycles.
Symptoms of Amenorrhea
- Absence of Menstrual flow
- Excess facial hair
- hair loss
- vision changes
- Milky nipple discharge
- Pelvic pain
Possible Causes of Amenorrhea
- Disruption in the hormonal system
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), PCOS causes relatively high and sustained levels of hormones, rather than the fluctuating levels seen in the normal menstrual cycle.
- Thyroid malfunction can be a result of an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) or underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) and this can cause menstrual irregularities, including amenorrhea.
- A pituitary tumor (noncancerous/benign tumor) in your pituitary gland can interfere with the hormonal regulation of menstruation.
- Premature menopause can also lead to Amenorrhea; Menopause usually begins around age45 – 50. But, for some women, the ovarian supply of eggs diminishes before age 40 and menstruation stops.
- Dysfunction or tumors in various hormone-producing glands such as the hypothalamus or pituitary.
- Primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure)
- Eating disorder
- Insulin resistance
- Metabolic syndrome
- Thyroid tumor
- Type 2 diabetes
Some other possible causes may include:
- Use of medications such as Antipsychotics, Cancer chemotherapy, Antidepressants, Blood pressure drugs, Allergy medications.
- Lifestyle factors
- Low body weight (Excessively low body weight — about 10 percent under normal weight — interrupts many hormonal functions in your body, potentially halting ovulation).
- Excessive exercise: women involved in activities that require rigorous training, such as ballet and gymnastics, may find their menstrual cycles interrupted due to some factors such as low body fat, stress, and high energy expenditure.
- Stress: Mental stress has a great effect on the proper functioning of the hypothalamus — which is in charge of controlling hormones responsible for the regulation of the menstrual cycle. Ovulation and menstruation may stop as a result. Regular menstrual periods usually resume after your stress decreases.
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Some Structural disorders related to the sexual organs can also cause amenorrhea. Examples include:
- Uterine scarring: Asherman’s syndrome, a condition in which scar tissue builds up in the lining of the uterus, can sometimes occur after a dilation and curettage (D&C), cesarean section, or treatment for uterine fibroids. Uterine scarring prevents the normal buildup and shedding of the uterine lining.
- Lack of reproductive organs: this occurs mostly during fetal development whereby a girl child is born without some major part of her reproductive systems, such as her uterus, cervix, or vagina. Because her reproductive system didn’t develop normally, she can’t have menstrual cycles.
- Structural abnormality or Obstruction of the vagina: An obstruction of the vagina may prevent visible menstrual bleeding and this may be due to the presence of a membrane or wall blocking the outflow of blood from the uterus and cervix.
- Knowledge of medical history, eating and exercise habits, and medicines or supplements in use
- Description of the menstrual cycle, including how long it has been since your last period.
- The pelvic exam may include a pelvic ultrasound.
- Generally blood tests (pregnancy test and a variety of tests on several hormones such as estradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and thyroid hormones.