What you need to know about Amenorrhea
Amenorrhea refers to the absence of or seizing of the menstrual flow due to several factors such as health conditions, birth control use, and most commonly, pregnancy.
There are two types of amenorrhea.
1. Primary amenorrhea: This refers to the absence of a menstrual period in a girl who has/is exhibiting puberty but hasn’t gotten a period by the age of 15. Hormones, problems with the reproductive organs are usually the main cause of primary amenorrhea.
2. Secondary amenorrhea: This occurs in women who have had menstrual flows previously, which later stops for three to four months consecutively. The most common cause of secondary amenorrhea is pregnancy, though other factors can cause a woman’s period to seize.
The causes of amenorrhea differ from each other. The causes of primary amenorrhea are different from the factors that cause secondary amenorrhea.
The most common causes of primary amenorrhea include:
1. Genetic conditions: A few genetic conditions like Turner Syndrome can cause amenorrhea. Turner syndrome occurs only in female humans and it is when one of the X chromosomes is missing or partially missing. It also causes a delay in puberty, amongst some other disabilities. Other conditions which can cause amenorrhea are AIS (androgen insensitivity syndrome) which causes an overproduction of testosterone.
2. Disorders of the reproductive organs namely the ovaries and/or uterus.
The causes of secondary amenorrhea are more extensive. The most common reason is pregnancy, but other causes include:
- Birth Control
- Physical and Mental Stress
- Gynaecological or Reproductive (Organ) Disorder
- Chronic Illness
- Extreme Weight Changes
The treatment plans for amenorrhea largely depends on what type it is (primary or secondary) and also the cause.
For primary amenorrhea, surgery may be needed to repair reproductive organs and/or genetic conditions.
In the case of secondary amenorrhea, the reason is first ascertained before a possible solution is prescribed. If amenorrhea is caused by birth control or drastic lifestyle changes like extensive exercise, physical stress or weight loss, doctors may prescribe an alternative contraceptive and suggest lifestyle changes.
For both primary or secondary amenorrhea, the first point of call should be a visit to the doctor or gynaecologist to determine what could be wrong. Self-medication is not advised.
Further Studies on Amenorrhea in Nigerian Women
There have been independent studies of women in Nigeria living with amenorrhea.
For instance, a study on amenorrhea in women, which was carried in 2017 at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching (UDUTH), Sokoto, Nigeria, borders on the physical symptoms and emotional effects experienced by persons living with this condition.
However, this research is limited to a few women in Northern Nigeria who speak English and Hausa, and may not apply to other women or other genders experiencing amenorrhea in the country.
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