Menstruation, or a menstrual period, refers to the monthly process in which the uterus sheds blood and tissue because pregnancy did not occur.
Not having or missing a menstrual period is called amenorrhea. This condition is divided into 2 types:
The most common cause of secondary amenorrhea is pregnancy. In non-pregnant 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 3 or more missed periods in a row in a woman who has previously had menstrual periods.
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 December 10, 2014. Accessed October 7, 2015.
Amenorrhea. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/amenorrhea.html. Updated February 2014. Accessed October 7, 2015.
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. Published 2008. Accessed October 7, 2015.
Last reviewed September 2015 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.