Understanding amenorrhea

Amenorrhea is the absence of menstruation in women who are of a reproductive age.

The condition affects many women and there are a number of causes. Amenorrhea occurs naturally when a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding (lactational amenorrhea). In some women, however, amenorrhoea is a result of infertility.

Watch this funny and highly educational medical lecture to fully understand amenorrhea.

What are the causes for amenorrhea?

Amenorrhea is classified into

  • Primary amenorrhea. This means that a woman has never had a period before. This can be caused by Kallman Syndrome, Transverse Vaginal Septum or a Imperforate Hymen.
  • Secondary amenorrhea. This means that a woman used to have periods, but now does not get them any more. Natural causes are pregnancy, breastfeeding, or menopause. More serious causes are stress, anorexia, starving, too much exercise as well as taking the contraceptive pill. More serious causes can be premature ovarian failure, but also cancers and hypothyroidism, not having a uterus in the first place, Cervical Stenosis as well as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). All of these causes are explained in detail in the above video.

What are the effects of amenorrhea?

Amenorrhea is rarely life threatening. However it can have a number of side effects, one of which is infertility due to anovulatory. This means that the ovaries do not release an egg for fertilisation to occur. It is not possible for women who are anovulatory to become pregnant. Amenorrhea can also sometimes indicate a further underlying problem in the reproductive system.

When should I see a doctor?

You should see your doctor whenever you are worried about your menstrual cycle, especially if you have missed three periods in a row. Women should also make sure that they see their doctor if they are aged 16 or over and they have not yet had their period.
If a doctor decides that medication is a suitable option, there are a number of possibilities. Medications such as Depo-Provea, Prometrium, Camila, Aygestin, Orthro Micronor, Errin, Jolivette, Endometrin, Crinone, Nora-Be, and Progest are few options. They should all be prescribed by a doctor.

Relax and rest

Are there any natural ways to treat amenorrhea?

There are natural therapies available which can help patients with amenorrhea, including supplements, diet and exercise. Many of these natural remedies can be done in the comfort of your own home. Weight is an important factor in fertility and certain fertility yoga positions which exercise the pelvic region are helpful.

Diet is an extremely important factor in female fertility1. Therefore it makes sense that eating healthily can help women with amenorrhea. Some women have found eating only organically raised meats, dairy, and vegetables useful. However, the most important thing is to make sure that you have a balanced diet, and that you are consuming the appropriate number of calories.

Thyroid gland therapy is an option for women who do not have an underlying medical condition. However for all of these remedies, it is essential you discuss them with your gynecologist first.

A range of supplements have been shown to be helpful in amenorrhea, including vitamin E, borage, and evening primrose. Natural progesterone cream, Chase Tree (Vitex), Tribulus, Omega-3 EFA, Royal Jelly, Dang Gui and Maca are also thought to help restore a normal hormonal balance.

Summary

Amenorrhea affects millions of women worldwide. Without proper diagnosis and treatment it can prevent some women from ever being able to conceive a child.

Fortunately there are options for treatment including natural remedies and medication. The treatment needed depends on the underlying cause of the condition.

Although amenorrhea does occur naturally at some points in a woman’s life, it is important that you see a doctor when it occurs during reproductive age and it is not associated with pregnancy or breastfeeding. With proper treatment, women living with amenorrhea should be able to regain natural hormonal balance.

Bibliography

  1. “ESHRE Capri Workshop Group. Nutrition and reproduction in women. Hum Reprod Update. 2006; 12 (3): 193-207”
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