Menstruation, or a menstrual period, refers to the monthly process in which the uterus sheds blood and tissue to prepare for pregnancy.
Not having or missing a menstrual period is called amenorrhea. This condition is divided into two types:
The most common cause of secondary amenorrhea is pregnancy. In nonpregnant women, it may be due to a variety of factors.
Factors that may increase the risk of amenorrhea include:
The main symptom for primary amenorrhea is the absence of a menstrual period in a female by age 16 or older. The main symptom for secondary amenorrhea is three or more missed periods in a row in a woman who has previously had menstrual periods.
Call your doctor if you:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
Treatment will depend on what is causing amennorhea. Examples include:
Amenorrhea may or may not be preventable, depending on the cause. Follow these general guidelines to prevent amenorrhea:
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Amenorrhea. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 7, 2014. Accessed August 8, 2014.
Amenorrhea. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/amenorrhea.html. Updated February 2014. Accessed August 8, 2014.
Current evaluation of amenorrhea. American Society for Reproductive Medicine website. Available at:
http://www.asrm.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/News_and_Publications/Practice_Guidelines/Educational_Bulletins/Current_evaluation(1).pdf. Accessed August 8, 2014.
Last reviewed August 2014 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.