What is Amenorrhea? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment 2022
In the general population, menarche typically occurs around age 12 in girls and slightly later in women. However, some girls and women may experience delayed menarche or amenorrhea (absence of menstruation). Such deviation from the norm is considered a medical condition that can have both short- and long-term implications for the affected individual.
Different types of amenorrhea include primary amenorrhea, secondary amenorrhea, and climactic endocrine suppression. Various other causes for missing periods can also lead to this hormonal imbalance. Here is an in-depth look at the causes, diagnosis, and treatment options for amenorrhea.
What is Amenorrhea?
Amenorrhea is the medical term for the absence of menstrual periods in women. It is a disorder that causes failure of the menstrual cycle and the absence of ovulation. Some girls and women may experience delayed menarche or amenorrhea (absence of menstruation).
Amenorrhea can be primary or secondary. Primary amenorrhea is the failure to menstruate by the age of 16 years in girls who have not undergone menarche. Secondary amenorrhea is the absence of menstruation for six or more months in women who have been menstruating regularly.
What are the Causes of Amenorrhea?
The cause of amenorrhea can be due to a number of factors such as hormonal imbalance, stress, excessive exercise, genetics, or certain medications. Some of the common causes of amenorrhea include
- Hormonal imbalance: Hormonal imbalance is a condition that occurs when the body fails to produce enough hormones. It can lead to amenorrhea. This causes ovulation to stop and results in the absence of menstruation.
- Stress: Stress can disrupt the menstrual cycle, leading to amenorrhea. The more stress you undergo, the more likely it is that you will experience amenorrhea.
- Excessive exercise: Excessive exercise can lead to amenorrhea as it can cause hormonal imbalance.
- Genetics: Inheriting genes that cause amenorrhea can also result in amenorrhea.
- Medications: Certain medications may also cause amenorrhea.
Types of Amenorrhea
There are two main types of amenorrhea, primary and secondary.
Primary amenorrhea: This is the absence of menstruation before the age of 16 years in girls who have not been through menarche due to a variety of reasons, including genetics, early childhood trauma, malnutrition, or extreme exercise.
Secondary amenorrhea: This is the absence of menstruation for six or more months in women who have previously menstruated regularly due to a lifestyle change. This can include pregnancy, breastfeeding, extreme exercise, or extreme stress.
Climactic endocrine suppression: This is the absence of menstruation for six or more months in women who have recently gone through menopause due to the completion of their menstrual cycle. Climactic endocrine suppression is the absence of menstruation for six or more months in women who have recently undergone menopause.
Diagnosis of Amenorrhea
A diagnosis of amenorrhea can be confirmed through a physical examination. A doctor may also order certain blood tests to rule out other health conditions that can cause amenorrhea. Such tests may include
- Hormonal levels: This can help determine the levels of certain hormones in the body, which can help determine the cause of amenorrhea.
- Urine analysis: This can help determine the levels of certain minerals in the body that can be altered in the absence of menstruation.
- Fasting blood sugar: This can help determine if the glucose levels in the body are normal or not, which is important for maintaining hormone levels.
- Fasting lipid profile: This can help determine cholesterol levels in the body.
- Thyroid profile: This can help determine the levels of thyroid hormones in the body, which are important for hormone production.
Treatments for Amenorrhea
The treatment for amenorrhea depends on the cause of the condition. If amenorrhea has been caused by genetics, there is nothing that can be done. In rare cases, menstruation can be restored with the help of surgery. If an underlying health condition has caused amenorrhea, it is best to treat the condition. If menstruation has stopped because of extreme exercise, a reduction in physical activity should be recommended.
The stressor must be removed if menstruation has stopped because of extreme stress. If menstruation has stopped because of a pregnancy, it is best to induce a miscarriage. If menstruation has been stopped because of breastfeeding, the mother must wait until the breastfeeding period is over.
If menstruation has been stopped because of recent menopause, hormonal treatment or the surgical removal of the uterus can be considered.
Final Words: Prevention of Amenorrhea
Amenorrhea is a condition that can have both short and long term implications for the affected individual. Amenorrhea can be a sign of an underlying health condition. It is best to visit a doctor if you are experiencing menstruation every month but irregular or absent. Prevalence rates of amenorrhea vary with age.