Secondary amenorrhea - Overview
Amenorrhea - secondary; No periods - secondary; Absent periods - secondary; Absent menses - secondary; Absence of periods - secondary
Definition of Secondary amenorrhea:
Secondary amenorrhea occurs when a woman who has been having normal menstrual cycles stops getting her periods for 6 or more months.
Amenorrhea is when a woman does not get her monthly menstrual cycle, or period.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or in menopause are not considered to have secondary amenorrhea.
Women who are taking birth control pills or receive hormone shots such as Depo-Provera may not have any monthly bleeding. When they stop taking these hormones, their periods may not return for more than 6 months.
You are more likely to have amenorrhea if you:
- Are obese
- Exercise excessively and for long periods of time
- Have less than 15% - 17% body fat
- Have severe anxiety or emotional distress
- Lose a lot of weight suddenly (for example, with a strict diet or after gastric bypass surgery)
Other causes include:
The following drugs may also cause missed periods:
- Chemotherapy drugs for cancer
Also, procedures such as a dilation and curettage (D and C) can lead to scar tissue formation that may cause a woman to stop menstruating. This is called Asherman syndrome. Scarring may also be caused by some severe pelvic infections.
- Reviewed last on: 6/16/2010
- Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Lobo RA. Abnormal uterine bleeding: Ovulatory and anovulatory dysfunctional uterine bleeding, management of acute and chronic excessive bleeding. In: Katz VL, Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 37.
Master-Hunter T, Heiman DL. Amenorrhea: evaluation and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2006;73(8):1374-1382.
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