by Diana Kohnle
Menstruation, or a menstrual period, refers to the monthly process in which the uterus sheds blood and tissue in preparation for pregnancy.
Not having or missing a menstrual period is called amenorrhea. This condition is divided into two types:
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The most common cause of secondary amenorrhea is pregnancy. If nonpregnant women, 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:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done.
Tests may include:
Other tests that may be ordered include:
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
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Amenorrhea. Family Doctor.org website. Available at: http://familydocto... . Updated August 2010. Accessed August 13, 2012.
Current evaluation of amenorrhea. American Society for Reproductive Medicine website. Available at: http://www.asrm.or... . Accessed August 13, 2012.
Secondary amenorrhea. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ . Updated February 3, 2012. Accessed August 13, 2012.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013