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Causes of Amenorrhea

Amenorrhea or absence of menstrual periods can be primary (when a woman has never developed menstruation) and secondary (when there is no menstruation in a previously menstruating woman). While some causes are natural and normal in the course of a lifetime, others are a sign of a medical condition or a side effect of a medication.

Amenorrhea can be a result of:

Pregnancy. When a woman is pregnant, the uterus is fully focused on nourishing and protecting the growing fetus. It sends the body a signal to stop receiving eggs as usual and ovulation and shedding of the uterus lining stop as a result of this.

Breastfeeding. Frequent nursing of the baby inhibits the release of hormones that cause the body to begin the monthly preparation for a new pregnancy. Periods usually resume in 6 months.

Menopause. With age women’s egg supply declines and during menopause ovaries stop producing eggs at all. Therefore menstruation does not happen.

Contraceptives. Some women who receive contraceptives may also not have their periods. It may take some time for a woman’s body to develop regular menstruation after stopping taking birth control pills as well as injected or implanted contraceptives.

Medications. The use of antidepressants, antipsychotics, antihistamines, antihypertensive drugs and cancer chemotherapy can cause menstruation to stop.

Hormonal imbalance. This may be due to polycystic ovary syndrome, thyroid problems, such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, or pituitary tumor. All these factors can interfere with the hormonal regulation of menstrual cycle.

Lifestyle factors. Excessive exercise, mental stress, extremely low body weight and eating disorders may interrupt menstrual cycle temporarily altering hypothalamus functioning. Regular menstruation generally resumes with lifestyle changes.

Premature menopause. In some women the ovarian supply of eggs may diminish before they reach the age of 40, causing a premature menopause. It is not reversible in the same way as for genuine menopause when the hormones settle.

Structural problems. Uterine scarring that may occur after Cesarean section or treatment of uterine fibroids, when scar tissue builds up in the uterus lining preventing its normal shedding.

Once amenorrhea is not caused by pregnancy or menopausal transition, it is appropriate to seek medical attention to rule out serious conditions that have led to the problem.

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