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An Overview of Amenorrhea
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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
•    Pregnancy
•    Certain contraceptives
•    Breastfeeding
•    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
•    Medications
•    Contraceptives

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
Washington, DC

Source:  National Institute of Child Health and Human Development



By Connie Limon Nursing Student
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