Today in women's health 101 we are going to dive into amenorrhea.
Amenorrhea is the lack of a menstrual period, also known as menses, during the reproductive years of a person born with female genitalia. Amenorrhea is not always abnormal. The number one cause of amenorrhea is pregnancy. There are two primary forms of amenorrhea, primary and secondary.
Primary amenorrhea is when a person born with female genitals fails to begin having a menstrual period by the time they reach reproductive age. Reproductive age typically starts with puberty. Primary amenorrhea can occur either with or without the development of secondary sex characteristics, such as breasts or pubic hair. Most people will develop secondary sex characteristics by the age of 13. The failure of someone to develop secondary sex characteristics by age 13 is a reason to see a healthcare provider for assessment why. Causes for primary amenorrhea can include:
Problems with anatomy, such as the lack of a uterus or ovaries - 10% of cases
Polycystic ovarian disease - the most common cause
Secondary amenorrhea is menstruation stopping for at least six months after previously regular menses. In addition to pregnancy, secondary amenorrhea can occur with:
Physical changes to the cervix or uterus
If someone is experiencing unexpected amenorrhea, they should always follow up with their healthcare provider to determine the cause.