Secondary Amenorrhea

Definition - What does Secondary Amenorrhea mean?

Secondary amenorrhea occurs when a woman who has previously experienced regular menstrual periods stops menstruating for a period of six months or longer. Common causes of secondary amenorrhea include normal health conditions, such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, or menopause. However, secondary amenorrhea may indicate underlying health concerns that may prohibit a woman from becoming pregnant.

FertilitySmarts explains Secondary Amenorrhea

Aside from natural causes, there are several common reasons a woman may experience secondary amenorrhea:

  • Birth control pills
  • Hormone injections
  • Obesity
  • Extensive exercise
  • Low body fat
  • Extreme stress or emotional duress
  • Extreme weight loss or gain

Less common reasons include:

  • Brain tumors, specifically in the pituitary gland
  • Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy
  • Medications for schizophrenia or psychosis
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Reduced ovarian function

In order to diagnose secondary amenorrhea, pelvic exams, pregnancy tests, and blood tests will be conducted. Once pregnancy has been ruled out, exams will test the hormone levels in a woman’s body. Additionally, scans of the head and brain may be completed, along with uterine biopsy, genetic testing, and ultrasound exams of the pelvis and abdomen.

Treatment for secondary amenorrhea is based on the diagnosed condition.

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