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:
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.
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://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/amenorrhea.html. Updated August 2010. Accessed August 13, 2012.
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 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
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.