Absent Periods

(Absent Menses; Amenorrhea)

Pronounced: ay-men-or-EE-uh

Definition

Amenorrhea is when a woman does not have a menstrual period or they have stopped. It is also called absent periods.

Menstrual Flow

Menstrual Flow
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Hormones often cause this problem. They start changes in the body that result in a period. They may be lowered by:

  • Poor habits, such as lack of nutrition, too much physical activity, too much weight loss, or a lot of stress
  • Health problems, such as polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Delayed puberty
  • Birth defects

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in high level athletes, such as long distance runners. Faulty genes may also raise the risk in some women.

Symptoms

Primary amenorrhea is when the first period has not happened in a young woman who is 15 years of age or older. Secondary is when a woman with regular periods has not had a period in 3 months in a row or a woman with irregular periods has not had a period in 6 months in a row.

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. You will also be asked about your history of periods. A physical exam will be done. This is enough to make the diagnosis.

More testing will need to be done to find the cause of the amenorrhea.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause. It may be treated by things like:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising less often
  • Managing health problems
  • Lowering stress
  • Correcting birth defects with surgery

Prevention

Female athletes can lower the risk by staying at a healthy weight by eating foods that support their level of training.

RESOURCES:

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
http://www.acog.org
Women's Health—Department of Health and Human Services
http://www.womenshealth.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
https://sogc.org

References:

Amenorrhea. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/amenorrhea . Updated January 16, 2018. Accessed January 17, 2020.
Amenorrhea. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated May 24, 2017. Accessed January 17, 2020.
Azurah AG, Zainuddin AA, et al. Diagnostic pitfalls in the evaluation and management of amenorrhea in adolescents. J Reprod Med. 2013 Jul-Aug;58(708):324-36.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 1/17/2020

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.