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Amenorrhea

What are the causes of amenorrhea?

  • Pregnancy is the most common cause.
  • Other reasons women may stop having periods:
    • Breastfeeding.
    • Menopause.
    • Contraceptives that contain hormones.
    • Certain medications.
    • Lifestyle factors, such as stress, body weight(too high or too low), too much exercise.
    • Problems with hormone balance.
    • Problems with the female reproductive (sex)organs.
  • Reasons that a teen might not get her first period:
    • Being overweight or underweight.
    • Having female sex organs that didn't grow right.
    • Problems in the parts of the brain that make hormones.

Download Amenorrhea Fact Sheet

What is amenorrhea?

 
  • Amenorrhea (uh-men-o-REE-uh ) is the loss of menstrual periods.
  • If a teenager does not have a menstrual period by age 16, it's called "primary amenorrhea."
  • Secondary amenorrhea occurs when a woman stops having periods for three or more months in a row.
  • Missing a period may be a sign that a woman is pregnant or something is not normal.
  • It's important to contact a health care provider about missing a period.

Are there tests for amenorrhea?

  • A health care provider can suggest tests to find the cause of amenorrhea.
  • The first test is a pregnancy test.
  • Next, blood tests may be done to check the level of hormones.
  • Computed Tomograph (CT) scan or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the head may be done to look for problems with the parts of the brain that make hormones.
  • An ultrasound test may be done to look at the female sex organs.

What are the symptoms of amenorrhea?

  • The main symptom is losing or not starting the menstrual period.
  • Sometimes women have other symptoms,too.
  • Other symptoms may include headaches, changes in vision, hair loss, and growing facial hair.
  • The symptoms depend on the cause of the amenorrhea.

How is amenorrhea treated?

  • The type of treatment depends on the cause of the amenorrhea.
  • If weight, stress, or physical activity is causing the amenorrhea, lifestyle changes may help.
  • Medications are often used to treat the other causes of amenorrhea.
  • It is important to talk to a health care provider about treatment options.

Sources

Mayo Clinic:

National Institutes of Health

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Content created by Office of Population Affairs
Content last reviewed on August 16, 2016