Amenorrhea - Health Center


By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST


Amenorrhea: Basic Information

Amenorrhea, which is otherwise commonly known as missed periods, is a condition which widely affects women all over the world. This condition is marked by absence of menstruation by women who have missed more than three periods in a row.

Pregnancy is one of the major causes of Amenorrhea. However, some of the other major reasons which can be associated with this condition could be problems with the reproductive organs or irregularity in the hormone levels. Treatment options are readily available for Amenorrhea. 

Causes of Amenorrhea:

There are many reasons behind the occurrence of Amenorrhea. Some of these are as follows:

  1. Natural causes: During the course of a woman’s life, some of the major causes behind Amenorrhea could be the onset of pregnancy, breast feeding or reaching menopause.
  2. Contraceptives: Women who are reliant on birth control pills experience missed periods frequently. After they have stopped using oral contraceptives, it usually takes some time for the menstruation to resume back to the normal cycle. Implanted contraceptives too could be one of the leading reasons for Amenorrhea.
  3. Medications: Some of the medications, such as the ones used during Cancer chemotherapy, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications as well as allergy medications can be the leading cause of Amenorrhea.
  4. Lifestyle Factors: certain lifestyle factors such as excessive weight gain and stress have been accounted as the leading causes of Amenorrhea. Stress is known to block the functioning of the hypothalamus thus, leading to a hormonal imbalance. As a result of this, the ovulation and menstruation tend to be blocked temporarily.
  5. Hormonal Imbalance: Different hormonal problems such as a malfunctioning thyroid, pituitary tumours and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) are known to cause a fluctuation in the levels of the hormones and therefore, are known to cause missed periods.
  6. Uterine Scarring: Asherman’s syndrome is a condition which causes a build up of scar tissue inside the lining of the uterus. This condition can cause the tissue from building up inside the uterus and therefore, can cause missed periods.
  7. Structural Abnormality of the vagina: Often, due to an obstruction inside the vagina menstrual bleeding in women is quite common. This could be one of the major reasons for Amenorrhea. 

Signs and Symptoms of Amenorrhea:

Lack or absence of menstrual periods is one of the leading symptoms of Amenorrhea. However, depending on the cause of the same, some of the other signs and symptoms are as follows:

  •       Milky discharge from the nipples
  •       Increased hair loss
  •       Consistent headaches
  •       Change in the vision
  •       Excessive amount of facial hair
  •       Pelvic pain
  •       Acne outburst

It is recommended to contact your doctor if you have missed more than three periods in a row but you are not pregnant. 

Tests and Diagnosis of Amenorrhea:

Usually, a pelvic exam is performed in order to check the patient for the presence of any problems with the reproductive organs. The doctor also tends to check the breasts and the reproductive organs in order to observe signs of changes. In some cases, hormonal changes could be the main culprit behind the condition. Therefore, several tests are performed in order to diagnose the condition definitely. Some of the major tests are as follows:

Lab Tests:

  1. Pregnancy Test: Since pregnancy is one of the major reasons for Amenorrhea, the affected person is tested for pregnancy in order to rule out that condition.
  2. Thyroid Function Test: This is done in order to check the levels of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) in the bloodstream of the affected person and in order to determine the proper functioning of the gland.
  3. Ovary Function Test: In this, the person is measured for the levels of FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) in the bloodstream to make sure that the ovaries are in a perfect and healthy condition.
  4. Prolactin Test: This test is done in order to check the levels of Prolactin in the bloodstream as lower levels of the hormones are indicative of Pituitary Gland tumour.

A hormone challenge test is often done in which hormonal medication is prescribed to the patient to be taken for 7-10 days in order to induce menstrual bleeding. The results from this test can be used to detect if the missing periods were due to lower levels of estrogens or not.

Imaging Tests

Depending on the condition of the patient, sometimes imaging tests are prescribed. Some of the major ones are as follows:

  1. Ultrasound: In this, sound waves are used in order to project the images of the internal organs. Ultrasound can pin point any abnormalities in the reproductive organs of the affected person.
  2. CT Scans: These are done using x rays, which are projected from different directions in order to generate a cross, dimensional view of the internal body structures. A CT scan is done in order to check the conditions of the kidneys, ovaries and the uterus.
  3. MRI: An MRI is done with the help of the radio waves which combine the strong magnetic waves in order to produce images of the soft tissues inside the body. This test determines the presence of a pituitary tumour, if any.

Treatment of Amenorrhea:

The treatment of Amenorrhea is greatly dependent on the causative factor of the disease. However, in most of the cases, contraceptives and hormone therapies are prescribed in order to trigger back the restart of the menstrual cycle in women.

Amenorrhea, which is caused due to thyroid or pituitary gland disorders, can be treated successfully with the help of medications. In case a tumour is the causative factor of the disease or a blockage within the reproductive organs is causing the problem, then surgery can be recommended for the treatment of the same. 

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