What Is Amenorrhea?

Amenorrhea is a medical condition in which women stop menstruating. A woman gets diagnosed with amenorrhea if the person misses three consecutive periods. Amenorrhea is not to be confused with other health conditions such as pregnancy or menopause. A woman must go one full year without a period to be considered menopausal.

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How does amenorrhea differ from PCOS?

PCOS stands for polycystic ovary syndrome. Women with PCOS have excessive amounts of the male hormone androgen. This hormone disrupts the menstrual cycle and often causes irregular periods. The ovaries also develop cysts that interfere with the menstrual cycle. PCOS differs from amenorrhea because PCOS does not stop the period. Women with PCOS still get a period, albeit a shorter or longer one. With amenorrhea, women don’t get a period at all.

Causes of the conditions

Amenorrhea is caused by external factors such as an eating disorder, low body weight, or stress. However, hormone imbalances can also be a major cause of amenorrhea. The hormone imbalances caused by PCOS may be associated with amenorrhea. Amenorrhea can also be caused by thyroid malfunction or a pituitary tumor.

How do doctors identify amenorrhea and PCOS?

Doctors conduct tests to determine if a patient has amenorrhea or PCOS. Tests will look for elevated levels of androgens in a woman to determine if the woman has PCOS. Doctors will also conduct physical examinations for amenorrhea. Physical issues such as an abnormal vagina, lack of reproductive organs, or uterine scarring can also cause amenorrhea. Once the disease has been identified, doctors develop a treatment plan for patients. The plan may include lifestyle changes, medication, or surgery.

Treatment options

Usually, doctors will prescribe hormone therapy to regulate the body’s hormones. Hormone therapy works by infusing the system with estrogen and progesterone to treat PCOS. To treat amenorrhea, doctors have to treat the external cause of amenorrhea such as stress or an eating disorder. If the amenorrhea is hormone-related, then doctors will prescribe hormone therapy to the patient. Ultimately, the doctor must decide the correct course of action for people struggling with PCOS or amenorrhea.

Visiting a healthcare provider

Patients that notice irregularities in the menstrual cycle should consult a physician. Only a qualified healthcare provider can diagnose a patient with amenorrhea or PCOS. For any questions regarding either condition, consult a healthcare provider specializing in women’s health. This provider will be able to perform the appropriate tests and suggest treatment options.

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