Amenorrhea is the medical term used to describe the lack of a menstruation period for young individuals who have not yet experienced their period (primary amenorrhea) but have experienced the normal indicators of puberty or for individuals who used to have their regular period but have missed at least three menstrual periods in a row (secondary amenorrhea). There are various types of amenorrhea including primary amenorrhea and secondary amenorrhea. It is best to consult your physician for a correct diagnosis and treatment.
- Cyclic progesterone therapy
- Hormone therapy (estrogen + progestin)
- Possibly androgen replacement Doctors may also prescribe certain birth control pills as it may facilitate a body environment conducive to restarting the menstrual cycle. Other medications such as Clomiphene citrate (CC) therapy may help to trigger ovulation for patients experiencing secondary amenorrhea. Another option may also be estrogen replacement therapy.
Although the main symptom of amenorrhea is disrupted or non-existent menstrual cycles, the disorder may cause other issues as well. If you experience the following symptoms, it is more likely that you are suffering from amenorrhea rather than a simple missed period. Some symptoms of amenorrhea include the following. Note that not all the symptoms of amenorrhea are listed here.
- Hair loss
- Vision changes
- Excess facial hair
- Milky nipple discharge
- Breast size changes
- Vaginal dryness
- Voice changes
Amenorrhea may be caused by a variety of factors including pregnancy, stress and certain medications that may cause interruptions in the body’s hormonal system. For example, stopping birth control pills may take some time before the body resumes menstruation cycle. In some cases, however, there are underlying medical issues that is preventing normal development:
- Exercising too much
- Low body fat
- Under severe stress
- Certain medications (including chemotherapy drugs)
- Brain tumors
- Overactive thyroid glands
- Ovaries not working normally
A patient may suspect that they are suffering from amenorrhea as soon as their menstrual cycle becomes irregular. Patients are first checked to ensure that a pregnancy is not the primary reason that the menstrual period has been suppressed. There are various methods to confirm whether a patient has amenorrhea:
- Blood test
- Ultrasonography of the pelvis to check whether there are any abnormalities in the pelvis region
- CT scan or MRI of the head to check the region of the brain (as this is where the pituitary gland regulating the hormones of the ovaries are located)
If a woman has a suppressed menstruation cycle, there may be an underlying issue with the pituitary gland, the hormone responsible for ensuring that the ovaries are functioning normally. For individuals experiencing amenorrhea, there are some options available to them. First, patients should consult their doctor to ensure that there aren’t any other medical conditions that is causing amenorrhea. The treatment depends on the cause of the missing period. As the suppression of menstruation may be due to a tumor in the brain, radiation therapy, removal of tumor and medication would be effective in resuming menstruation for some people. For others, weight gain may help some individuals resume their menstruation cycle as their level of physical activity decreases. Finally, medication such as hormone replacement therapy can be sought as a possible treatment.