Amenorrhoea (BE) or amenorrhea (AmE) is the absence of a menstrual period in a woman of reproductive age. Physiologic states of amenorrhoea are seen during pregnancy and lactation (breastfeeding). Outside of the reproductive years there is absence of menses during childhood and after menopause. more...
Etymology and definition
The term is derived from Greek: a = negative, men = month, rhoia = flow. Derived adjectives are amenorrhoeal and amenorrheic. The opposite is the normal menstrual period.
There are two types of amenorrhoea, primary and secondary amenorrhoea. Primary amenorrhoea is the absence of menstruation in a woman by the age of 16. Also, as pubertal changes precede the first period, menarche, women who have no sign of thelarche or pubarche and thus are without evidence of iniation of puberty by the age of 14 have primary amenorrhoea. (Reference: Speroff L et al, Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 1999)
Secondary amenorrhoea is where an established menstruation has ceased for about six months or the time of three menstrual cycles.
Amenorrhoea is a symptom with many potential causes. Primary amenorrhoea may be caused by developmental problems such as the congenital absence of the uterus, or failure of the ovary to receive or maintain egg cells. Also, delay in pubertal development will lead to primary amenorrhoea. Secondary amenorrhoea is often caused by hormonal disturbances from the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland or from premature menopause, or intrauterine scar formation.
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