What Is Amenorrhea?

If your doctor says you have “amenorrhea,” it means that you aren’t getting your periods, although you’ve been through puberty, aren’t pregnant, and haven’t gone through menopause.

It’s not about having irregular periods. If you have amenorrhea, you never get your period. Although it’s not a disease, you should tell your doctor about it, because it might be a symptom of a medical condition that can be treated.

Types

There are two types of amenorrhea:

Primary amenorrhea. This is when a young woman has not had her first period by the age of 16.

Secondary amenorrhea. This is when a woman who has had normal menstrual cycles stops getting her monthly period for 3 or more months.

Causes

Many things could cause amenorrhea.

Possible causes of primary amenorrhea (when a woman never gets her first period) include:

  • Failure of the ovaries
  • Problems in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) or the pituitary gland (a gland in the brain that makes the hormones involved in menstruation)
  • Problems with reproductive organs

In many cases, doctors don’t know why a girl never gets her first period.

Common causes of secondary amenorrhea (when a woman who has had normal periods stops getting them) include:

Other causes of secondary amenorrhea include:

A woman who has had her uterus or ovaries removed will also stop menstruating.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on March 09, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

Hormone Health Network: "Amenorrhea."

National Institute of Child Health & Human Development: "Amenorrhea."

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