Amenorrhea (Absence of Periods) : Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Dr K. Hari Chandana MBBS, MS 

As you know, women experience menstrual periods every month regularly. But, have you ever wondered what it’s like to have no periods at all? . Periods are something that women hate to have but are scared not to have at the same time and yes, you must be concerned if you don’t get periods & this condition in medical terms is known as amenorrhea which is also referred to as absent periods.

What exactly is amenorrhea?

The term “amenorrhea” literally means “the absence of periods”–which is observed in a woman during her reproductive years i.e., after the age of puberty and before the age of menopause. This condition is naturally seen in pre-puberty girls and after menopause.

There are other natural reasons why you don’t get periods at all- such as during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, you can be certain what you are going through is not natural if you don’t get periods for more than 6 months, without any of these natural causes.

Amenorrhea is generally seen in 1.5- 3% of women during their reproductive years. Whereas, less than 1% of women are affected by this issue


What is a Menstrual Cycle?

Menstruation, also called periods, occurs when the lining of your uterus sheds and breaks down into blood which leaves your body through the vagina. These periods last around 2- 7 days and the average length of the menstrual cycle is around 28-29 days which may differ from person to person. Most women experience their first menstruation between the ages of 9- 15.

There are some complex hormones in your body which control your menstrual cycle and every month, these hormones are released in a particular order to prepare the uterus and the rest of the body for pregnancy. So, if everything is going smoothly and you are not pregnant, the uterus sheds its lining. This shedding will lead to menstruation. Once your period starts, the cycle begins again.

But for some reason, if the hormonal system doesn’t work properly, it may lead to amenorrhea( absence of periods).

Types of amenorrhea

There are mainly two types of amenorrhea:

1.Primary amenorrhea
2.Secondary amenorrhea

Primary amenorrhea:

Secondary amenorrhea:

Athletic amenorrhea:

What Causes Amenorrhea?

There is no doubt that periods are the most inconvenient and irritating, but the truth is that it’s not normal for women to have no periods at all. Because a woman’s body is designed to have menstrual cycles every month except when they are pregnant and if you are not having periods, that means there is something wrong with your body.

There are various reasons why you are not having periods and you must find out what exactly is causing your amenorrhea.

Different types of amenorrhea have different causes. Some occur due to natural reasons, while others might be due to a medical condition.

Natural causes of amenorrhea( absence of periods) include:

Amenorrhea_ Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis , Treatment

Causes of primary amenorrhea include:

In these types of cases, menstruation may not be possible as the reproductive development will not follow the usual manner.

Causes of secondary amenorrhea include:

Other conditions which can cause secondary amenorrhea include:

What are the signs & symptoms of amenorrhea(absence of periods)?

The main symptom is lack of menstruation but there are other symptoms depending on the causes.

How do you diagnose amenorrhea?

Amenorrhea is not a diagnosed condition, it is a symptom of other conditions. So, this needs to be investigated and treated as early as possible.

Primary amenorrhea:

If you haven’t started your periods by the age of 16, the physician may ask about your family history and carry out a few tests to assess the level of your hormones:

A physical examination will also be carried out.

Secondary amenorrhea:

The diagnosis for secondary amenorrhea will focus on the underlying cause of the issue.

First, the physician may ask you a few questions regarding your:

Then they recommend a few tests which may include:

Radiological or imaging tests include:

How is amenorrhea treated?

Since there are many causes of amenorrhea( absence of periods), the treatment will be according to the underlying cause of amenorrhea.

Some treatments include restarting your periods through birth control pills and other types of hormonal therapies.

Your treatment will depend on the cause of amenorrhea and these treatment options for secondary amenorrhea include:

Do I need to get surgery for amenorrhea?

It’s rare to get surgery for amenorrhea but your physician may recommend it if you have the following:

When should I see a doctor?

Contact your doctor if you miss your periods for 3 months and if you:

Bottom line:
Amenorrhea isn’t life-threatening. It is treatable in most cases. Lifestyle changes & getting treated for amenorrhea(absence of periods) will help you to get your periods back so you can get pregnant. 

Always keep track of your periods, follow a healthy diet, and medications you are taking and if you’ve missed several periods in a row consult your doctor to find out what’s causing it. If you wish to become pregnant, your physician will guide you about fertility options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Amenorrhoea is treatable in most cases and the treatments will help you to get your periods back. It might take a few months for your periods to come back, but they will in most cases.

There are many treatment options if you wish to get pregnant which include: medications which can stimulate ovulation, correct hormonal imbalances and in a few cases surgery will be necessary.

There are also lifestyle changes which can reverse your amenorrhoea. But, if you are suffering from amenorrhoea and wish to be pregnant, speak with your doctor as they can help determine the cause and discuss the treatment options and help your family grow.

It’s normal to miss one or two periods in your lifetime like:

      1. When you start getting your periods
      2. During pregnancy
      3. While breastfeeding
      4. In the lead-up to Menopause

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