Amenorrhea is the clinical term that refers to the absence of menstrual periods. There are two types of amenorrhea: primary and secondary. Primary amenorrhea is the body’s failure to produce a menstrual period by the age of 16. Secondary amenorrhea is the absence of a regular menstrual period in a woman who has previously had normal menstrual cycles. Amenorrhea treatment can include reducing stress, oral contraceptives, and herbal remedies.
In girls who are suffering from primary amenorrhea, the body is not producing enough hormones to start the reproductive cycle. Primary amenorrhea occurs more frequently in girls who are underweight or heavily athletic. Secondary amenorrhea is diagnosed when the woman has gone three calendar months without her menses and is not pregnant or menopausal. Generally, secondary amenorrhea occurs in about 2 to 5 percent of the population.
The most common cause of secondary amenorrhea in women of childbearing age is pregnancy and breastfeeding. A woman’s cycle will usually return to normal after the birth of the child or after she ceases breastfeeding. Secondary amenorrhea can also signal the onset of menopause. Some causes of secondary amenorrhea can be related to lifestyle. These causes include high levels of stress, intense exercise, depression, extreme weight loss or gain, heavy smoking, and poor nutrition.
Other causes of secondary amenorrhea are typically due to underlying medical problems, such as poor thyroid function, brain tumors, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, and recent chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Secondary amenorrhea may also indicate hormonal problems, such as a prolactin imbalance. One of the most recognized causes of secondary amenorrhea is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Amenorrhea can also be a strong indicator of premature menopause in women under 40.
Amenorrhea is not a condition in itself; rather, it is a symptom of an underlying situation. Secondary amenorrhea treatment is contingent upon the cause of the problem. Treating the root cause of amenorrhea usually causes the reproductive system to return to its normal function.
Generally, for amenorrhea caused by stress, sudden weight loss or gain, or rapid exercise, the most common amenorrhea treatment is behavioral in nature. Sufferers can usually correct the problem and restore the body’s normal function by utilizing stress relief techniques, decreasing the level or frequency of exercise, and maintaining a healthy diet. In extreme cases, a hormone replacement therapy or estrogen supplement is sometimes prescribed. Premenstrual girls who have not started their menses due to lack of body fat are often put on high-fat, high-calorie diets.
For sufferers of PCOS, thyroid imbalance, or hormonal imbalances, oral contraceptives may be used to treat the problem. Removal of the errant brain tumors, uterine fibroids, or cysts will usually return the body to its natural rhythm and restart the menstrual cycle. Injections of the hormone progesterone may also be prescribed to treat ovarian cysts and restore the balance of hormones in the body. Estrogen or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may also be a beneficial amenorrhea treatment in pre-menopausal women.
Many women opt for herbal and natural remedies to cure instances of amenorrhea. Since the absence of menstrual periods can also make conception difficult or even impossible, many of the same natural treatments for infertility are used by women suffering from amenorrhea. Treatments such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, and homeopathy are popular among women searching for a natural approach to the absence of menstruation. Black cohosh, kelp, chaste tree, and oat straw are herbs commonly used by those seeking herbal remedies.