• Amenorrhea – An Introduction

    Amenorrhea is the medical term for something many women have experienced throughout their lifetimes: the absence of the regular menstrual cycle. To be sure, women?s relationships with their monthly cycles can sometimes be complicated and nuanced. Some women may view an interruption with anxiety, while other women might feel relief.

    These reactions are not mutually exclusive. Treating amenorrhea, then, depends on the context of the condition, its root causes, and the goals of the patient. 

    What is Amenorrhea?

    Amenorrhea occurs when you miss a regular menstrual cycle. This can happen for a wide variety of reasons. In fact, it?s not at all uncommon for women to miss a month here or there throughout their lives. You should generally consider consulting with a doctor or midwife when:

    Other accompanying symptoms to note might include:

    Associated symptoms can help your doctor or midwife determine the underlying cause and risks–if any–associated with your amenorrhea.

    What Causes Amenorrhea?

    The single most common cause of amenorrhea is pregnancy. Women who are pregnant will stop menstruating for the duration of the pregnancy, and nursing can extend the effect. In fact, nursing women can go months, and in some cases, years without experiencing a period. 

    But pregnancy is not the only possible cause of amenorrhea. Other possible causes include:

    None of these causes for amenorrhea are mutually exclusive. In some cases, multiple factors may contribute to the depression and interruption of your menstrual cycle. 

    Are There Types of Amenorrhea?

    If you have noticed the disappearance of your period, you might be feeling a little worried and disconcerted, even if you are also relieved that you don?t have to experience the physical symptoms of your period.

    In most cases, your OBGYN will determine whether your amenorrhea falls into one of two different categories:

    The cause of your amenorrhea may be crystal clear; but for some, it?s more opaque. Some cases of amenorrhea have been known to result in increased risk for infertility and osteoporosis, especially when left untreated. So if you have had amenorrhea for more than three months, it?s important to let your doctor know so they can determine the cause and any appropriate treatment.

    Are There Treatments for Amenorrhea?

    Your OBGYN can run a few different tests to confirm a diagnosis of amenorrhea and attempt to confirm the root cause. Some of these tests can measure your hormone levels, while others may examine the physical condition of your pelvic region. As a first step, patients who suffer from amenorrhea are usually given a pregnancy test in order to eliminate the most common possible cause.

    Once causes have been confirmed or eliminated, your OBGYN will recommend a treatment plan. This plan may consist of:

    Finding the right treatment for amenorrhea depends on identifying the root cause or the multiple causes behind the interruption in your period. 

    Do You Have to Treat Amenorrhea?

    For some women, the depression of their menstrual cycle will represent a welcome change. They may not want their period to come back. But that?s a decision that should be made with the most medical context possible. You?ll need to know that the underlying condition causing your amenorrhea won?t necessarily cause more harm over the long run. 

    That said, many women look at their monthly period as a symbol of their femininity. That?s why you want an OBGYN who looks at your menstrual cycle as more than a medical curiosity, but as part of who you are.

    In many ways, amenorrhea is a natural part of life. But if you want to know more about treatment options, if you have concerns, or if you want to learn more about the gynecological services we offer, contact our OBGYN offices in Wilmette or Glenview to make an appointment with our team.