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.
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.
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:
- Stopping the use of birth control
- Some birth control methods, such as Depo-Provera or certain types of intrauterine devices (IUDs)
Other causes of secondary amenorrhea include:
- Poor nutrition
- Certain prescription drugs
- Extreme weight loss
- Ongoing illness
- Sudden weight gain or being very overweight (obesity)
- Hormonal imbalance due to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Thyroid gland disorders
- Tumors on the ovaries or brain (rare)
A woman who has had her uterus or ovaries removed will also stop menstruating.