What is amenorrhea? Learn everything about this issue

The definition of amenorrhea is the total absence of menstruation in a woman that is in a fertile age. Learn what the possible causes are. Click To Tweet

Amenorrhea isn’t always a warning sign of disease. However, in some cases, it might occur as a consequence of issues such as stress, malformations, or tumours. As a result, it’s important to be able to identify which are the underlying causes of amenorrhea, so that the most indicated treatment for this disease is determined.

What is amenorrhea and how to treat it

The menstrual cycle has the initial stimuli regulated by the hypothalamus, a part of the nervous system which stimulates a gland located at the brain —the hypophysis— to produce luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones, responsible for regulating the reproductive cycle. These hormones will push the ovaries into releasing oestrogen and progesterone.

When this process can’t be completed, the menstrual cycle does not occur, and you face a case of amenorrhea. Learn, now, some of the possible causes of this condition.

Causes 

As we’ve referred, there are multiple reasons that may explain amenorrhea. Here are some of the possible causes why a menstrual period doesn’t happen:

  • Pregnancy
  • Psychological and emotional issues
  • Chronic diseases
  • Nutritional changes
  • Eating disorders
  • Intense physical activity
  • Lesions in the central nervous system
  • Malformation in the reproductive system
  • Hyperprolactinemia (excessive production of prolactin hormone)
  • Use of medication, such as antipsychotics and antidepressants
  • Prolonged use of oral contraceptive
  • Changes in thyroid function
  • Early menopause
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Cushing syndrome
  • Asherman syndrome
What is amenorrhea? Learn everything about this issue

Types

Besides the physiological amenorrhea, the one that occurs in specific stages of life, such as childhood, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause, amenorrhea can still be divided into two types: primary and secondary. 

  • Primary amenorrhea is the one where menarche (first menstruation) has not occurred by the age of 15.
  • Secondary amenorrhea is defined by the absence of menstruation for three or more months, in cases of regular menstrual cycles, or by an absent period of six or more months, in cases of irregular menstrual cycles.

Symptoms 

The main symptom of amenorrhea is the absence of a menstrual period, although there are many other warning signs associated, that may vary, depending on the underlying causes of amenorrhea. Here are some of the symptoms you should pay attention to:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Breastmilk production (in case of hyperprolactinemia)
  • Headaches
  • Vision changes
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Memory loss
  • Cold intolerance
  • Hot flashes
  • Hirsutism (excessive hair growth)
  • Hair loss
  • Skin oiliness
  • Abnormal weight
  • Acne
  • Deep voice
  • Changes in libido
What is amenorrhea? Learn everything about this issue

Treatment

Before addressing the possible therapeutic to treat the amenorrhea issue, it’s important to reiterate that treating this condition is only considered if, in its origin, there is an underlying disease. Treatment will focus on the underlying condition that causes amenorrhea.

So, in the presence of certain warning signs previously aforementioned, it’s fundamental to pay a visit to a doctor, to confirm the diagnosis of amenorrhea, define its type, and determine which therapeutic approach is the most appropriate, in accordance with the cause of the issue.

Still, it’s important to take into consideration the reproductive age and the desire or not to conceive, so that the most adequate treatment takes place. Among the several possible treatments, are:

  • Oral prescription drugs that aid in hormonal regulation, as is the case of oestrogen and progesterone replacement or birth control pills.
  • Changes in lifestyle habits and healthy nutrition.
  • Surgery, in cases of structural changes in the uterus/vagina or tumours.

Even though not every case of amenorrhea can be avoided, some may as well be prevented, if certain measures are adopted, such as leading a healthy lifestyle, fighting off stress, engaging in physical activity in a healthy manner, and having a healthy balanced diet.

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Unilabs