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Amenorrhea or absence of menstruation is a symptom of an underlying disorder than a condition in and of itself.

Amenorrhea can be primary or secondary:

  • Primary amenorrhea is failure or absence of menses to occur by any of the following:
    • 16 years old or 2 years after the onset of puberty
    • About 14 years old who have not gone through puberty (e.g. growth spurt, development of secondary sexual characteristics)
  • Secondary amenorrhea is the cessation of menses after it have begun; evaluation is usually done if menses are absent for more than 6 months.

It may or may not be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on the cause. Such symptoms may include the following:

  • Acne
  • Hirsutism (excess body hair)
  • Voice deepening
  • Headaches
  • Visual disturbances
  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Decrease in sex drive
Risk Factors

Many of the risk factors generally limit or stop the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone that may lead to amenorrhea or delay in menstrual period.

  • Pregnancy. The most common cause of amenorrhea in women of reproductive age.
  • Stress, excessive exercise or eating disorders. Stress hormones are produced which stop or limit the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone
  • Being overweight or underweight
  • When the body produces low levels of estrogen
  • Perimenopause or menopause
  • Medication changes
  • Breastfeeding
  • Use or abuse of drugs (e.g. contraceptives, antidepressants, antipsychotics)
  • Other illness (a sudden, short or even a longer illness)
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
  • Eat a properly balanced diet which includes foods rich in vitamins, minerals and protein
  • Exercise moderately to maintain ideal body weight (e.g. jogging, walking)
  • If absence of menstruation is caused by stress, finding ways to deal with stress may help (e.g. shopping, going out of town or taking vacations etc).
  • Avoid cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Increase intake of foods rich in iron (e.g. liver, red meat, egg yolks, etc.). Iron is an important component of hemoglobin which is the substance found in red blood cells that carries or transport oxygen throughout the body


It will depend on the underlying cause, as well as the health status and goals of the individual (e.g. tumor, hyperthyroidism, ovarian failure, polycystic ovary syndrome). Consult your doctor.

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