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What Is Amenorrhea?

Amenorrhea symptoms

Amenorrhea is when you aren’t getting your periods even though you’ve been through puberty, aren’t pregnant, and haven’t gone through menopause.

It’s not about having irregular periods. If you have amenorrhea, you never get your period. Although it’s not a disease, you should tell your doctor about it because it might be a symptom of a medical condition that can be treated.

Amenorrhea Types

There are two types of amenorrhea:

Primary amenorrhea. This is when young women have not had their first period by the age of 15.

Secondary amenorrhea. This is when you have had normal menstrual cycles, but they stop for 3 or more months.

Amenorrhea Symptoms

Besides not having your period, there are some other symptoms you may have, depending on the cause of your amenorrhea:

  • Pain in your pelvic area
  • Changes in your vision
  • Headaches
  • Acne
  • Hair loss
  • More hair growth on your face
  • A milky discharge from your nipples
  • No breast development (in primary amenorrhea)

Causes of Amenorrhea

Many things could cause amenorrhea.

  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding
  • Stopping the use of birth control
  • Menopause
  • Some birth control methods, such as Depo-Provera or certain types of intrauterine devices (IUDs)

Other causes of secondary amenorrhea include:

  • Stress
  • Poor nutrition
  • Depression

Certain prescription drugs, including antidepressants, antipsychotics, blood pressure medicines, and allergy medications

  • Extreme weight loss
  • Over-exercising
  • Ongoing illness
  • Sudden weight gain or being very overweight (obesity)
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Thyroid gland disorders
  • Tumors on the ovaries or brain (rare)
  • Chemo and radiation treatments for cancer
  • Uterine scarring

If you’ve had your uterus or ovaries removed, you will also stop menstruating.

When to see a doctor

Consult your doctor if you’ve missed at least three menstrual periods in a row, or if you’ve never had a menstrual period and you’re age 15 or older.

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