Amenorrhea is defined as the absence of menstruation or missing one or more menstrual periods. Technically Amenorrhea is not a disease and does not indicate infertility but it can be a symptom of a health problem that requires immediate attention. The term can be further divided into primary and secondary amenorrhea. Primary amenorrhea, though very rare, refers to the absence of menstruation during puberty. If a girl has not had a period by the age of 15 or 16 she should seek medical advice. One of the most common causes of this type of condition is a change in hormone levels. Secondary amenorrhea means the absence of three or more periods consecutively by someone who has had regular periods in the past and the absence of periods for 6 months by someone who has had irregular periods in the past. The common causes can be pregnancy, breastfeeding, or hormone level fluctuation.
The main symptom is of course lack of menstruation. However, other symptoms might also be seen depending on the cause, such as:-
- Milky nipple discharge
- Hair loss
- A headache
- Vision changes
- Additional facial hair
There may also be a lack of breast development in those with primary amenorrhea. Anyone experiencing such symptoms should consult the doctor on a priority basis.
Since amenorrhea itself is not a disease and is a symptom, therefore the treatment would depend on the cause. Causes may be one of the following:-
- Natural Amenorrhea – No menstruation during the regular course of life with reasons such as pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause.
- Contraceptives – Consumers of birth control pills would not have periods and may see irregular periods for some time even after stopping the pills.
- Lifestyle factors such as lower body weight, excessive exercise, stress may also cause amenorrhea
- Hormonal Imbalance and conditions such as PCOS and Perimenopause may also lead to Amenorrhea
Timely consultation with the doctor will be helpful in the early diagnosis of the cause of amenorrhea and accordingly, the doctor will be able to start the treatment.