If you have had regular periods in the past, and suddenly stop: you may have amenorrhea. Amenorrhea simply means: without menses. There is a broad definition of amenorrhea, and it can be difficult to determine if you have it. Although amenorrhea is not a disease and is typically not harmful, you should still talk to your doctor if you never get your period. There are two types of amenorrhea:
There are two types of amenorrhea: primary and secondary. Primary amenorrhea is when a young woman has not had her first period by 16. Secondary amenorrhea is when a woman who has otherwise had normal menstrual cycles, stops getting her period for three or more months.
Besides not having a period before the age of 16 or not having a period for three months after having a regular menstrual cycle, you might experience symptoms including:
Amenorrhea may also be caused by taking certain birth controls. While some birth control helps women control their periods, other women may find their period stops. Even after stopping contraceptives, you may find it takes some time before your period becomes regular.
Certain medications may also cause amenorrhea. These include:
Sometimes lifestyle factors can cause amenorrhea. Having an excessively low body weight can interrupt many hormonal functions in your body, potentially stopping ovulation. Women who have an eating disorder, such as bulimia or anorexia often stop having periods. Excessive exercise may also contribute to amenorrhea. Women who participate in activities or sports that require rigorous training may find their menstrual cycle is interrupted. This is often due to having a low level of body fat and high energy expenditure. Stress can alter the function of your hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is an area of your brain that controls the hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle.
Amenorrhea typically does not cause any complications. Amenorrhea can, however, cause infertility in some women since if you don’t ovulate and have menstrual periods, you can’t become pregnant.
Amenorrhea is typically not life-threatening, but if you are not having regular periods, you should consider seeing your doctor for follow up. It is important to maintain regular visits for your annual exam.