When a woman misses a menstrual period during her reproductive age but does not get pregnant then it is known as the condition of Amenorrhea. Physiologically it is commonly observed during breastfeeding and pregnancy. Brief information about this female health problem is provided here under to help you in understanding it more precisely
Types of amenorrhea
Amenorrhea occurs due to missing or not having menstrual period even without the possibilities of pregnancy but it has been divided into two types-primary and secondary. When menstruation does not start to an adolescent female even up to the age of 16 years then it is termed as primary amenorrhea. Normally 12 years is considered as the average age of menstruation which can begin anytime between the age of 9-18 years. But when a woman, who previously experienced menstruation, has missed it for 3 or more months then this condition is known as secondary amenorrhea.
Causes of amenorrhea
The condition of Amenorrhea can experienced due to a number of reasons. Normally it is experienced during pregnancy or breastfeeding as the part of life but in certain cases some serious health condition can also be the reason if its occurrence.
Causes of primary amenorrhea
Primary amenorrhea can be caused due to three main reasons:
Genetic or chromosomal abnormalities that stop the normal functioning of the ovaries can disrupt or delay the menstrual period.
Certain physical problems like problem in reproductive organs and Pituitary or Hypothalamic problems in the brain can also prevent the starting of menstrual periods.
Eating disorder, excessive exercise, psychological or physical stress or the combination of all these conditions can also disturb or delay the in-time menstruation during adolescence.
Causes of secondary amenorrhea
Secondary amenorrhea can be caused due to a number of reasons including:
Natural reasons: Pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause are some of the natural reasons that can cause secondary amenorrhea.
Therapies and medications: It can be caused due to the use of certain medications including contraceptive injections, intrauterine devices and birth control pills. Menstrual cycle can restart regularly after few days of stopping such medications.
Certain blood pressure medications and antidepressants which can increase your hormone levels can prevent the menstrual cycle or ovulation.
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy for the cancers related to your bone marrow, lymph nodes and blood as well as breast can damage the eggs and cells that produce estrogens in the ovaries which in turn can also cause secondary amenorrhea.
Sometimes during the dilation and curettage procedure a scar tissue develops in the uterus lining which prevents the shedding of uterine lining during menstrual cycle
Hypothalamic causes: When a gland in the brain known as hypothalamus stops or slows down the release of the hormone responsible to release gonadotropin hormone then this condition occurs as gonadotropin hormone helps in starting menstruation. This condition can normally be experienced due to low percentage of body fat, low body weight, emotional stress, very low intake of fat or calories, deficiency of metabolism and appetite regulating protein-leptin , some medical illness or condition and exhausting exercise to burn more calories than intake.
Gynecological causes: Certain health conditions that can result into secondary amenorrhea may include unbalanced hormonal levels as one of their main reasons. These health conditions may include:
Primary ovarian insufficiency along with Fragile X or FXPOI: In this condition the ovaries of a woman stop working properly around the age of 40, the time of normal menopause. Thos problems can be caused due to certain genetic changes in the chromosome X. Almost 10% of the women with this problem experience amenorrhea.
PCOS or Polycystic ovary syndrome: This condition occurs when the body of a woman androgens abnormally. Certain fluid-filled cysts or sacs grow in the ovaries due to abnormal production of androgens which can obstruct the ovulation of eggs. Most of the women with this problem experience irregular periods or amenorrhea.
Thyroid: The metabolism controlling hormones produced by the thyroid play a great role in menstruation during puberty. The condition of amenorrhea or irregular menstruation is observed when the thyroid is overactive or underactive.
Tumour in Pituitary: Even the noncancerous tumours in the pituitary gland of the brain can hormonally obstruct the regular menstrual cycle as it produces the hormones controlling various functions of your body including reproductive cycle and metabolism.
Thus the women with any of these health conditions can be at risk of amenorrhea.