Amenorrhea is defined as the absence of menstruation. It also refers to a condition where a woman misses one or more menstrual periods. The condition is broken down into primary and secondary amenorrhea. Primary amenorrhea signifies no menstrual periods by age 16. Secondary amenorrhea refers to a situation where a woman was previously menstruating, but then ceased menstrual periods. If you are a healthy sexually active female, missing a period would most likely be due to pregnancy.
There are many other explanations for the onset of amenorrhea besides pregnancy. Amenorrhea does not usually result from a serious condition. If you do not know why your period has stopped, it can be distressing. You will need to consult your doctor to get to the root of the problem.
Hypothyroidism Quick Facts
Hypothyroidism is a condition that describes an underactive thyroid gland. This condition develops when the thyroid gland is not producing enough of certain important hormones. Women of the age group of 50 and over are more likely to develop hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism disrupts the optimal balance of chemical reactions within the body. It is difficult to detect in the early stages, but as time passes, the untreated condition can lead to several health problems including joint pain, excessive weight gain, infertility and even heart disease.
In some cases, hypothyroidism has been the underlying cause for at least one type of amenorrhea. Once you’re doctor is able to identify the underlying cause, treatment of this cause should restore the normal menstrual cycle.
A clear sign of amenorrhea is lack of menstrual periods:
- Primary amenorrhea: no menstrual period by age 16.
- Secondary amenorrhea: no periods for 3 to 6 months or even longer after previously menstruating.
There are other symptoms of amenorrhea that can manifest depending on its cause. In addition to lack of periods, the symptoms can include nipple discharge, headaches, changes in vision, or even more than usual hair growth on the face and torso. This hair growth symptom is also called hirsutism.
When To Pay Your Doctor A Visit
For primary or secondary amenorrhea, you should consult your physician if you find yourself experiencing any of then following:
- no menstrual period by age 16.
- have had no periods for 3 to 6 months or longer.
You will most like pay a visit to your primary care physician or a gynecologist. To prepare in advance you should make lists of important information you want to ask the doctor since time will be limited.
- A detailed description of all your symptoms is useful information for your doctor including when they began. Tracking the irregularities of your periods on a calendar will help greatly.
- List all medications you take. You should include the dosage amounts as well. Don’t forget any supplements or non-prescription drugs.
- Include specific questions regarding available treatment options.
Questions Your Doctor May Ask
Your doctor may also have several questions to ask in order to determine best treatment options. Prepare for these in advance of your appointment. You may even find it helpful to write down your answer so that you don’t forget any details.
Some questions your doctor may ask:
- How often do you have menstrual periods?
- Have you experienced a complete stop of periods?
- How long have you had symptoms?
- Are you currently sexually active?
- Is there a possibility that you may be pregnant?
- Have you had any surgery on your abdominal or pelvic area?
- Have you ever sustained a head injury or any other type trauma to your central nervous system?
- Do you have any family members who have had amenorrhea?
- Have you undergone a great deal of stress since symptoms began?
- Has there been any unexplained fluctuation in weight (weight gain or weight loss)?
- How often do you exercise and how intense is your workout routine?
- What medications or supplements are you currently taking?
During your appointment, do not hesitate to ask the doctor to clear up anything you do not understand. Knowing why any tests or treatments are recommended is important.