What Is Amenorrhea?
Amenorrhea pertains to the absence of menstruation. It is a medical condition that occurs after the individual experiences menstruation and can happen at any point during the reproductive years. Most women with amenorrhea do not necessarily suffer from any underlying disease or medical disorder although this condition may lead those who are sexually active to believe they are pregnant. On the other hand, women who have abstained from any sexual relations for a considerable period of time may find the absence of a menstrual period alarming.
The main symptom of the condition is the absence of menstruation. When a woman fails to begin menstruating by age sixteen, the amenorrhea is considered primary, while the inability to menstruate for a minimum of three months is considered secondary amenorrhea. However, there are some cases where the absence of menstruation is not the only symptom. Other symptoms, though less likely, include hair loss, headaches, excessive facial hair growth, and a milky white mammary discharge.
The causes of amenorrhea can vary from simple lifestyle factors to more serious medical conditions. Primary amenorrhea may be a symptom of pituitary disease, a problem in the hypothalamus, missing reproductive organs, hormonal imbalance, or structural abnormalities in the reproductive system. On the other hand, secondary amenorrhea may be caused by contraceptives, breast feeding, or simply pregnancy.
In cases where the woman is not pregnant, amenorrhea is usually a side effect of eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia. This is because low body weight can affect the balance of hormones in the body, which in turn may stop the menstrual cycle.
The other possible reasons for amenorrhea may include stress, chronic illness, excessive physical exertion, pituitary tumor, thyroid problems, chromosomal problems, uterine scarring, medication, and early onset menopause.
Diagnosing women with amenorrhea is not difficult because of the clear absence of menstruation. Major causes such as pregnancy, eating disorders, contraceptive-related issues, and medication have been ruled out by the doctors. Tests will need to be performed in order to learn the hormonal imbalance and, subsequently, the treatment needed for the patient. Because there are several causes that need to be ruled out, diagnostics in discovering the cause for amenorrhea may take some time and quite an amount of testing.
Some patients are fortunate to have their amenorrhea clear up on its own for no conceivable reason. This may be attributed to situations where the onset is caused by stress or medication. However, in other cases, the amenorrhea is not easily rid of and treatment will largely depend on the cause of the condition.
There are several tests that may be performed on the patient, depending on the jurisdiction of the doctor and the patient’s needs. The more common procedures include blood tests, imaging tests to locate tumors, introduction of hormones to encourage bleeding, and a few minimally invasive surgical means to check the status of the internal organs.
When the cause is determined, treatment may proceed. For cases caused by stress, eating disorders, and excessive exercise, treatment is focused on the cause. For cases caused by more complicated conditions like deformities or abnormalities in the structure of the vagina, surgical operations have to be performed to correct the abnormality.
Lastly, cases that involve problems with the thyroid and pituitary gland, as well as hormonal problems, are usually treated through medication prescribed by a physician.
Amenorrhea is considered a symptom, not a disease. So while healthy women may be alarmed by their failure to menstruate on time, they must remember that the issue is usually the cause of amenorrhea and not the condition itself. Because of this, amenorrhea is not considered as a health issue on its own. Checkups and visits to a gynecologist must be done in order to ascertain the health and status of a patient.
For cases that pinpoint eating disorders as the cause, amenorrhea is the first and most significant sign that a woman is no longer healthy. The body and the function of its internal organs should be supported by an adequate amount of weight and nutrients, and women who are severely underweight put themselves at risk when their weight affects this. Patients who suffer from bulimia and anorexia require immediate treatment and considerable medical care in order to ensure that their bodies reach an optimum of level of health.
It is understandable for some women to be relieved with not having to deal with the monthly onset of menstruation. But a woman’s menstrual period is a significant sign of her well-being; therefore, women should take great care in ensuring the regularity and health of their menstrual cycle.