Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What is amenorrhea?

Next up in the discussion, amenorrhea. What is it, and just exactly how do you say it?

Amenorrhea (said: a-men-o-REE-uh) is the absence of menstruation. According to Williams Gynecology 2nd Edition, there are a couple of different situations for which amenorrhea can be diagnosed. The first two are in the case of young girls who haven't started to menstruate by a) 14 years of age and are showing no other sides of puberty; or b) 16 years of age with other signs of puberty visible. Obviously this isn't my case. The third definition is for females who had previously been menstruating, but missed menses for 3 cycles in a row, or 6 months.

The most common cause of amenorrhea is pregnancy, but again, this isn't my case.

If you look through the links you'll find a variety of reason for why amenorrhea occurs. Included among them are use of oral contraceptives, discontinuation of oral contraceptives, sudden weight loss, low body fat percent, and extreme amounts of exercise. Related, there is condition called Female Athlete Triad syndrome, where female athletes involved in sports that emphasize low weight (i.e. gymnastics, figure skating, diving, long distance running, etc) can experience a combination of: eat disorders, amenorrhea and decreased bone mineral density (for more information on this condition, see Female Athlete Triad Coalition Website).

Other causes of amenorrhea include: other medication use (chemo drugs, antipsychotics and antidepressants), hormonal imbalances (especially the thyroid, but also the pituitary gland), and structural abnormalities with the reproductive organs themselves.

Here is a link to the Mayo Clinic pages on amenorrhea (click through the tabs for more information):

Here is to the UptoDate page on amenorrhea (this may require a password or subscription):

Here is the MedlinePlus page on amenorrhea:

Here is the Wikipedia page on amenorrhea:


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