The absence of a menstrual period is called “amenorrhea.” There are two kinds:
• Primary: When a young girl has not yet had a period by age 16
• Secondary: A woman who used to have a regular period but then stopped for at least three months (this can include pregnancy)
Signs of amenorrhea include:
• The main sign is missing a menstrual period
A sign of overall good health is having regular periods. Something is going wrong or you are pregnant if you miss a period. Always tell your health care provider if you miss a period so he or she can properly assess what is happening.
Amenorrhea is not a disease. It is a symptom of another condition that needs to be determined by a qualified health care professional. Other symptoms like headache, vision changes, hair loss or excess facial hair may occur.
Causes of primary amenorrhea include:
• Chromosomal or genetic abnormalities
• Hypothalamic or pituitary diseases and physical problems
• Moderate or excessive exercise
• Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa
• Extreme physical or psychological stress
Causes of secondary amenorrhea include:
• Common causes include many of those listed for primary amenorrhea
• Certain contraceptives
• Mental stress
• Certain medications
• Hormonal problems
• Very low body weight
• Premature ovarian failure
Are there effective treatments for amenorrhea?
• The treatment depends upon the underlying cause
• Sometimes lifestyle changes can help if the cause is weight, stress, or physical activity
For more information:
You can obtain a 24-page booklet in PDF form online entitled, “Do I have Premature Ovarian Failure,” at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development web site. If you prefer the booklet in print, you can write to:
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, DHHS, (2003)
Do I have Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)? (03-5159)
U.S. Government Printing Office
Source: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
By Connie Limon Nursing Student
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