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Home » Health » Amenorrhea – Types, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Amenorrhea – Types, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Absent menstruation is medically known as Amenorrhea, it is not a disease and it doesn’t mean you are not fertile; it is just a symptom of an underlying health problem that needs attention.

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It is caused by a number of factors like genetics and natural causes like pregnancy and menopause, nutritional and lifestyle factors like exercise and body weight, reproductive problems, and improper levels of hormones in the body.

Amenorrhea is characterized by the absence of menstrual bleeding; it is diagnosed as amenorrhea when a girl has not had her first menstrual period by the age of 16 or when a woman has not seen her period for three to six months.

This condition can be resolved once the underlying cause is known, that is why it is important to have a doctor check you so as to know and treat the underlying cause. There are two types of amenorrhea and they depend on whether the menstruation has not occurred before at a certain age or it occurred but has now stopped.

Types of Amenorrhea

  1. Primary Amenorrhea

This type occurs in teenage girls who have reached or passed the age of 16 and have not still had their first period. It is normal for girls to start menstruating between the ages of 9 and 18 but the average age is 12.

  1. Secondary Amenorrhea

This type occurs in women who have been menstruating before but suddenly stopped seeing their period for three to six months. This type is more common than primary amenorrhea. Both types of amenorrhea can be treated effectively once the underlying cause is known.

Symptoms of Amenorrhea

The absence of menstruation is the main symptom of amenorrhea, but other signs can follow, and the common ones are:

Causes of Amenorrhea

Natural causes: These include cases like menopause, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.

Nutritional deficiencies: Nutritional deficiencies and malnutrition affect the functions of the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, which in turn, affects the levels of your hormones and cause amenorrhea.

Lifestyle factors: Excessive exercise and stress can cause any type of amenorrhea, also, excessive body fat or too little body fat can also delay or stop menstruation completely.

Low body weight: A low body weight can also affect the functions of your pituitary gland and hypothalamus, thereby disrupting the levels of your hormone. This can lead to functional hypothalamic amenorrhea.

Hormonal Imbalances: Impaired levels of hormones in the body can cause absence of menstruation. Abnormal levels of hormones in the body can be triggered by the thyroid gland, the pituitary gland, or tumors.

Stress: Stress disrupts the levels of hormones in your body and to a type of amenorrhea called functional hypothalamic amenorrhea, women with this type of amenorrhea experience higher rates of anxiety, moodiness, and depression.

Genetics: Genetics or chromosomal disorders like sawyer syndrome and turner syndrome can cause no menstruation or late menstruation.

Excessive exercise: This is the third cause of functional hypothalamic amenorrhea. Exercise moderately and do it at your own pace. Don’t inflict harm on your body in the name of strenuous and excessive exercises.

Medications: Some drugs can cause amenorrhea in some women. Some examples of such drugs are antidepressants, antipsychotics, high blood pressure drugs, chemotherapy drugs, and allergy medications can cause menstrual disorders in women including amenorrhea.

Even stopping birth control pills suddenly can lead to absent menstruation for several months before the cycle adjusts and return to normal.

Eating disorders: Eating disorders like bulimia, anorexia and the rest can lead to nutritional deficiencies or low body weight, which in turn, will cause absent menstruation.

Problems with reproductive organs: Structural problems of the female reproductive organs and other problems related to physical defects can cause delayed or absent menstruation.

Obesity: Obesity and excessive weight gain can disrupt the normal levels of hormones in your body and cause temporal amenorrhea.

Post-delivery problems: Such as birth defects, infections that occurred shortly after birth or in the womb, or tumors can cause absent menstruation.

In very cases, amenorrhea can be a symptom of Asherman’s syndrome, this occurs when the uterus is scarred after surgery and this can prevent menstruation from happening.

Some medical conditions: There are quite a few numbers of medical conditions that are responsible for no menstruation in women and some of them are:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): This is a hormonal disorder that can cause amenorrhea. This condition causes hyperandrogenemia which is characterized by very high levels of male hormones in the woman’s body. This can affect your menstrual cycle and cause absent menstruation.

It comes along with unpleasant symptoms like:

  • Acne
  • Excessive weight gain
  • Difficulty conceiving
  • Excessive growth of hair
  • Irregular periods
  • Pituitary gland problems: The pituitary gland is responsible for releasing hormones that control menstruation, problems affecting this important organ can cause amenorrhea and some of them are:
  • A tumor in the pituitary gland
  • An inflammatory condition of the pituitary gland called sarcoidosis
  • Premature death of cells in the pituitary gland after pregnancy, this is called postpartum necrosis.
  • Radiation therapy can affect the cells of your pituitary gland and cause amenorrhea.
  • Premature ovarian failure: This happens when the ovaries of a woman stops working completely before the age of 40.
  • Genital tracts defects: These are structural problems in the physical makeup of a woman that makes it difficult for menstrual blood to exit the vagina.

An example of this is imperforate hymen which is characterized by a hymen with no opening, the seals the vagina and makes it impossible for blood to flow out during menstruation.

  • Turner syndrome: This is a genetic disorder characterized by underdeveloped ovaries which in turn, causes absent menstruation.

When to see a Doctor about Amenorrhea?

A teenage girl who hasn’t seen her period at the age of 16 should see a doctor immediately, also, a teenage girl at the age of 14 who hasn’t seen any sign of puberty yet like growth of breast, appearance of pubic hair, and the onset of menstruation should also see a doctor.

Teenage girls and women who have started menstruation but suddenly missed 3 or more periods consecutively should also see a doctor immediately. Your doctor will ask you series of questions and carry out lots of tests on you just to know the underlying cause and treat it. A physical exam and pregnancy tests will also be carried out on you.

If pregnancy is ruled out, more blood tests will be carried out to check the levels of important hormones that can affect your period, these include hormones like follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and prolactin. The results of these tests will help your doctor know or rule out the cause of no menstruation.

Other tests that can be carried out include an ultrasound imaging test which create detailed pictures of your internal organs using high frequency sound waves. This will help your doctor to view various organs in your body like your uterus and ovaries and check for abnormalities or growths.

CT scan is another type of imaging test that can be used, in this method, computers and rotating X-rays machines are used in creating cross-sectional images of your body. this will help your doctor check for tumors and masses in your organs, glands, and tissues.

Medical Treatment for Amenorrhea

The treatment for amenorrhea depends on the underlying cause. Supplements or synthetic hormones are used in treating hormonal imbalances which help in normalizing the levels of hormones in your body.

Surgical procedures can be used in cases of problems with reproductive organs such as uterine lesions, scar tissues, and ovarian cysts that are responsible for absent menstruation.

You might also be advised to make important lifestyle changes especially in your weight, nutrition, and exercise routine if that is what is responsible for your situation.

Ensure you stick to the doctor’s advice and treatment plan, don’t miss your follow-up appointments and if your condition does not improve with medical treatment and lifestyle changes, contact your doctor again or you see a professional naturopath.

Powerful Natural Remedies for Amenorrhea

Reduce stress

Stress is a leading cause of amenorrhea, you should look for ways to combat stress such as relaxation, meditation, prayers, light exercise, sleep, reading and writing, massage, acupuncture, or the use of essential oil through aromatherapy or massage.

You can also make use of adaptogenic herbs, these unique herbs relieve stress, promote normal levels of hormones in the body, and protect your body from the adverse side effects of stress.

Examples of adaptogenic herbs are holy basil, Ashwagandha, ginger, maca root, and others. They also boost your immune system and combat different types of stress. They treat adrenal fatigue and thyroid problems and also improve the overall health of your body.

Avoid excessive exercise, excessive intake of coffee and other types of stimulants, and remember to have quality sleep. Rest and sleep are very important criteria for having a healthy level of hormones in your body.

Eat Healthily

Improve your diet by eating a variety of nutrient-dense food regularly, this will help regulate the functions of your reproductive organs and keep the levels of your hormones in check.

You also need a balanced level of short, medium, and long chain fatty acids, these are what your body uses in making hormones, you can get them from coconut oil, olive oil, nuts and seeds, wild-caught fish like salmon, grass-fed butter, and avocados.

Increase your intake of probiotics because they help your body synthesize certain vitamins which help regulate the levels of some hormones like insulin. Rich sources of probiotics are bone broth, goat milk, goat milk yogurt, fermented vegetables, Kombucha, and kefir.

Avoid Environmental Toxins

You should avoid conventional body care products if you have amenorrhea. This is because they contain a high amount of chemicals that can disrupt the levels of hormones in your body.

These include DEA, sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, etc. these chemicals alter the production of estrogen in your body and even cause thyroid and adrenal problems.

Check the labels of your cosmetics and skin care products carefully before buying or using them. Also, use glass and stainless kitchen utensils in place of Teflon or plastics because they contain hormone disruptors, BPAs, and other dangerous chemicals.

Vitamins

Vitamins are important in a woman’s body because they also help to promote a healthy menstrual cycle. One of these is the B vitamins, they help in maintaining proper levels of hormones in the body.

Rich sources of B vitamins are watercress, holy basil, parsley, nettles, collard greens, spirulina, seaweed, kale, and Swiss chard.

Vitamin C boosts fertility in women and corrects abnormal levels of hormones in the body. It also aids the proper absorption of iron from foods which helps in preventing heavy blood loss due to heavy menstruation. Rich sources of vitamin C are red bell peppers, hibiscus flower tea, strawberries, oranges, lemons, and limes.

Ginger

This powerful root herb relieves cramps and regulate menstrual cycle and flow. It is an effective way to treat amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, and irregular periods naturally. Boil ginger root in water and drink it when warm. You can add honey or lemon juice for taste.

Figs

This is a powerful natural remedy for amenorrhea and also the most delicious, eat a handful of figs daily or boil figs in water and drink this decoction on a daily basis. This will help to make your menstrual cycle regular.

Saffron

This herb is a powerful antioxidant, it flushes toxins out of your body and reduces stress, a major cause of secondary amenorrhea. Boil a pinch of saffron in water and let it cool down before drinking it all through the day. It will clean your body and soothe your body from the inside out thereby relieving stress. This, in turn, will regularize your period.

Sleep

Sleep improves your overall health and has a lot of positive impact on your reproductive organs and system. Regular long hours of night sleep will help you get your period back and make it stable.

You can use an essential oil to induce sleep, or mediation. Sleep also balances the levels of hormones in your body thus preventing and treating hormonal imbalance.

Unripe papaya

This helps the contraction of the muscle fibers in the uterus. This, in turn, will regulate period flow and make it regular. Consuming green papaya regularly for few months will ensure you have a regular and healthy menstrual cycle. Don’t take this during your periods.

Wild yam

Wild yam is believed to be a natural source of progesterone, it was once used to make progesterone in the lab, but some scientists argue that the body cannot use progesterone from wild yam. You can give it a try or discuss with your naturopath if this remedy will work for you.

Cinnamon

For years, this spice has been used traditionally to cure amenorrhea, combine it with honey and take it in form of tea. It balances hormones and helps in relieving the symptoms of amenorrhea and menstrual pains.

Vervain and Lady’s mantle

These are powerful herbs and they shouldn’t be taken without the supervision of a medical doctor or a naturopath. They stimulate menstrual flow. Your doctor will monitor your liver functions if you are taking lady’s mantle.

Yarrow

This herb warms the uterus and acts as a pelvic decongestant. You can take it in form of tea or get the capsules from a reputable health store.

Cumin

Soak tablespoons of cumin overnight in a glass of water and drink this every morning on an empty stomach to have regular period. It also has a lot of benefits and will improve your overall health.

Dong Quai

This herb helps decongest the pelvic area, it also warms the pelvic region and builds up the blood. You can get the capsules or powders from good health stores.

Tomato Juice

In Ayurveda medicine, tomato juice is a powerful remedy for amenorrhea, take it daily to see excellent results.

Fennel seeds

These seeds are very rich in a powerful compound called Emmenagogue, this compound boosts menstruation and fights menstrual disorders. It makes your menstrual cycle regular and relieves cramps and pains with its powerful antispasmodic properties.

Soak two tablespoons of fennel seeds in a glass of water overnight, strain it and drink in the morning. Do this daily or you take fennel tea. This will help correct this problem.

Chasteberry

This herb balances the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body thus preventing hormonal imbalance, a leading cause of amenorrhea. It keeps your menstrual cycle on course.

Sesame seeds

This heat-producing herb helps to regulate your period and prevent abnormalities. Eat sesame seeds twice daily with hot water or you fry them and consume. Do these 2 or 3 times daily.

Fenugreek

This herb is considered by many naturopaths to be a one-stop solution for a lot of menstrual problems including amenorrhea. It revives absent menstruation, it improves the production of heat, relives the symptoms of menopause like hot flashes, and also improve a woman’s reproductive system.

Parsley Juice

Parsley improves your menstrual cycle and prevents problems, take it in the form of juice because this is the most effective form. Get some fresh parsley leaves, rinse and crush, add it to a blender, pour water and blend until it gets smooth. Drink this once daily, for a regular and problem-free menstruation.

Sweet fennel

This herb has a strong stimulating effect on your menstrual cycle, it treats a lot of menstrual disorders including amenorrhea and PMS and it maintains an optimum amount of fluid in your body.

Apple cider vinegar

This powerful liquid can stop menstrual problems caused by abnormal levels of blood sugar and hormonal problems like disturbed levels of insulin in the body. Mix two tablespoons of ACV in a glass of warm water and take it daily before meals to help regularize your period effectively.

Dill weed

Take dill on a regular basis to treat amenorrhea and irregular period. For centuries, women have depended on this powerful herb to treat menstrual and fertility problems and to also enhance the flow of milk during breastfeeding.

Buttermilk

This help correct hormonal imbalance and helps with the secretion of hormones. It is also rich in vital nutrients which can help prevent nutritional deficiencies, a major cause of absent period.

Blue cohosh

In many traditional healing systems, this herb is used as a uterine and menstrual stimulant. The powerful bioactive component found in this herb is Calulopsonin and it stimulates the flow of blood in the pelvic region to combat amenorrhea effectively and other gynecological problems.

Carrots

This is one of the simplest and most effective way to regularize your period, have carrot juice or soup regularly and include carrots in your diet daily.

Lemon balm

This herb is mentioned in historical documents for the treatment of amenorrhea and other menstrual disorders. It promotes a regular menstrual cycle and relieves menstrual cramps, pains, and other symptoms of menstruation. It also treats the symptoms of amenorrhea such as headaches and migraines.

Turmeric

Turmeric is one of the most powerful herbs on the planet, it fights menstrual problems and disorders, and improves fertility. Mix turmeric root powder in lukewarm milk and consume it every night.

False unicorn

This herb is a powerful traditional remedy for a lot of gynecological problems including amenorrhea. It is also used in curing female infertility and there are a handful of researches backing this claim. This herb has powerful compounds that cure infertility.

Fiber

Fiber eliminates excess hormones from your body, thereby fighting hormonal imbalance. It also regulates the levels of sugar in your blood, reduce the risks of fertility problems like PCOS, and even immunological problems. It promotes healthy weight and healthy levels of hormones in the body. Rich sources of fiber are green vegetables, beans, and fresh fruits.

Angelica Sinensis

The root of this powerful herb is used traditionally to treat amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea. It also has powerful positive effects on a lot of gynecological problems.

Zinc

This vital mineral promotes healthy levels of critical hormones in the body, these hormones include testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. Zinc makes these hormones stable all through your menstrual cycle.

Your body also needs zinc to produce eggs that are mature enough for fertilization. Natural sources of zinc are oysters, sesame seeds, tahini or sesame seed butter, raw pumpkin seed, etc.

References;

  1. http://pituitary.mgh.harvard.edu/amenorrhea.htm#Causes
  2. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/women’s-health-issues/menstrual-disorders-and-abnormal-vaginal-bleeding/absence-of-menstrual-periods
  3. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Periods-absent/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  4. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/amenorrhea/DS00581
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This article is for informational/educational purposes only. Healthtian does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, read more.

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